By now, you probably know that all hell is breaking loose in Irving. And not only is the Mexican Consulate in Dallas taking action, begging Mexicans to stay out of the suburb, but so are a host of local activists, including two-time mayoral candidate and former state Rep. Domingo Garcia.
Tomorrow morning at 10, during the monthly Chorizo and Menudo breakfast held by Garcia and other activists at El Ranchito on West Jefferson Boulevard in Oak Cliff, the focus will be on the suburb that’s become the latest immigration battleground. “There will be people from Irving there to give an update,” activist Alberto Ruiz tells Unfair Park today. “We’ll talk about how to know your rights.”
Amid the high number of recent deportations in Irving -- many the result of traffic stops or people driving without proper documents -- Garcia and Ruiz believe the police may be using racial profiling or stopping people without probable cause. Those are assertions Mayor Herbert Gears has repeatedly denied.
Garcia says he plans in the coming days to demand an injunction halting the national Criminal Alien Program that allows police to hand illegal immigrants over to federal authorities.
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“We gotta get our evidence together,” Garcia says. “We’ve had six or seven people -- legal U.S. residents or citizens -- who have come forward and said they’ve been asked for their immigration status.”
Since the city’s police began turning illegal immigrants in to federal authorities 15 months ago, the suburb has been shaken by protests, arrests, deportations and tense meetings between city officials and immigrant and civil rights advocates. Parents are even withdrawing their children from school, fearing they’ll be plucked out of the classroom and deported (the superintendent says 90 kids have been pulled in the past week). Two sixtysomething Irving residents were arrested late last month for attacking people protesting the new police actions. And this week, after warning Mexican nationals not to drive through Irving, the Mexican Consulate began discussing proposals for an anti-defamation league modeled after the one began to protect Jews.
The new enforcement push, which has resulted in some 300 deportations per month in Irving, comes during the toughest nationwide crackdown on illegal immigrants in decades. The tougher rules come after Congress’s failure to pass landmark immigration reforms that would have included tougher enforcement, created a guest-worker program and established a path to legalization for millions of undocumented immigrants who have been working in the U.S. for years. Since the feds couldn't take care of the issue, local governments and private individuals are taking on the problem of illegal immigration all by their lonesomes.
“I think that certain sectors of the Republican political stucture are trying to appease the base by showing that immigrants are being deported and there’s an attempt to enforce the law,” Garcia tells Unfair Park. But the problem, advocates say, is that authorities are enforcing laws that are tout of touch with the country’s economic reality, which includes an unskilled labor shortage and millions of working immigrants who for years have been welcomed to fill the void. You can hear all about it tomorrow while you fill your stomach with chorizo. --Megan Feldman