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Waiting for a Miracle

by Patty Kupfer 03-06-2014
While the battle for immigration reform continues, more than 1,000 people are deported every day.

JUANA TOBAR SAYS she is waiting for a miracle from God. She’s the mother of four wonderful children and a grandmother of two young girls. Her husband, Carlos, a U.S. citizen, calls her the “glue of their family” and his soul mate. Juana has lived in North Carolina for more than 20 years and serves as an usher in her church, but in the coming weeks the Obama administration will be deciding whether or not to deport her back to Guatemala.

Juana’s case is not unusual. According to its own statistics, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has deported approximately 400,000 immigrants per year since President Obama took office in 2009. In March, he’s set to reach the dubious marker of 2 million deportations, more than any other president. Many of us who work with immigrant communities are left asking: Why would a president—especially one who enthusiastically supports immigration reform that would give the undocumented a chance to stay in the country and earn citizenship—so aggressively deport the same immigrants who could be legalized through reform?

Our best guess is that when Obama entered office, his administration made a calculation that if they showed they were serious about enforcement, lawmakers would be more likely to come to the table and negotiate. That goodwill never materialized. Now, five years later, ICE is feeling increasing heat from immigrant advocates.

One of the key discrepancies between ICE and its critics is the question of who is being deported. In 2011, the administration issued a memo vowing to focus deportations on “convicted criminals,” a scary label until you realize how DHS defines the term. Immigrants commit crimes at much lower rates than the native born, so there are only so many serious criminals to find and deport. Thus, ICE has come to define “criminal” loosely, covering both violent felons and people who get a traffic ticket. A substantial number of those who are deported don’t count as “criminals” even under that definition. And many are the parents of U.S. citizens. In the first six months of 2011, for example, ICE deported nearly 50,000 parents of U.S. citizens—people like Juana Tobar.

Growing Pains

by Patty Kupfer 09-01-2008
Keeping fair trade fair.

Treating the Sojourner

by Patty Kupfer 06-01-2008
Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible, by M. Daniel Carroll Rodas. Baker Academic.

Video: Immigration Raids and Church Response

by Patty Kupfer 05-20-2008

Please check out this moving video shot and edited by our own on-the-ground correspondent, Sojourners Web assistant Matt Hildreth. Matt researched, made calls, and then stopped through Postville, Iowa, last Friday and got some great footage. It features Sister Mary of St. Bridget's, who has been ministering to immigrant families affected by the raid.

Our allies have been spreading this video around among activists all over the country and they're thrilled to have some interviews with [...]

Churches a Haven after Immigration Raids

by Patty Kupfer 05-13-2008

There was a raid at a meat-packing plant in Postville, Iowa, yesterday, in which about 300 people were detained. Please keep them in your prayers. The Des Moines Register ran a

WSJ: That 'Insulting' Pope

by Patty Kupfer 04-22-2008

Thank God for The Wall Street Journal editorial board. Now that's a phrase I never imagined uttering. Then again, who would have thought they'd be the institution to jump so eloquently to the defense of the pope from the likes of Lou Dobbs and Tom Tancredo?

During his visit last week, Pope Benedict XVI gave a consistent and prophetic call to U.S. Catholics:

Shifting the Shouting Match on Immigration

by Patty Kupfer 12-18-2007

There's no denying it. Immigration has become, and will continue to be, a hot-button issue in the presidential season. The question that remains is