Stay Informed

Oct 15, 2015 #Fight4Families

This October, AFSC Chicago staff used posters from the Humanize Not Militarize exhibition as protest signs at a recent action protesting the potential separation of two local families due to deportation. The rally and press conference, organized by Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD), called upon staff at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s Chicago office to take steps to prevent the detention and deportation of Manuel Roman and Maria Oneida and her family.

As we consider the impacts of militarism in our communities, we must pay attention to national borders as a significant site of militaristic government funding and control that reduces the quality of people’s lives. Facets of ‘border protection’ such as immigrant detention, deportations, and armed border patrol, result in the separation of families and increased vulnerability to violence without addressing the economic injustices that cause people to immigrate. A politics that affirms every person as valuable and deserving of compassion calls us to oppose border policing that hurts people and their families.

In an era of successful globalization, it increasingly becomes easy to move goods and money across the world, but harder for actual people to cross borders. Of course, globalization depends on increasing the consequences and hurdles of immigration for those who would typically be forced into low-wage labor for multinational corporations; after all, it isn’t as profitable to move a factory overseas where wages are lower if potential workers are permitted to move to escape exploitation.

Deportations are often imagined as mundane procedures whose primary goal is to send people back “home,” where they “belong” instead of permitting them to continue life in the United States. The reality is that people in positions to be deported have already made the United States their home, and deportations force them into potentially violent and dehumanizing situations.

Nationally, the American Friends Service Committee has much ongoing work around immigrant rights and specifically deportation resistance. Today, families face the threat of deportation not only in border communities, but across the United States and in many central areas seemingly far from national boundaries. AFSC offices in Denver, Colorado, Des Moines, Iowa,  Miami, Florida, Portland, Oregon, and Newark, New Jersey, among others, are working to reduce the impact of the U.S.’s detention and deportation pipeline that funnels people out of their communities and into immigrant detention centers and deportation proceedings.

Today, an immigrant detention “bed quota” requires ICE to hold a minimum of 34,000 people in detention centers each day. This bed quota is enforced in for-profit detention centers that have “guaranteed minimums” in their contracts, creating a profitable enterprise out of family separation and imprisonment. Detention centers, meant to require compliance with immigration proceedings, are an expensive and inhumane mechanism that incarcerates people unnecessarily. The Detention Watch Network provides many educational and advocacy materials for those wishing to learn more about the quota-based government contracts that require ICE to lock away immigrants in detention centers. If you’d like to write a letter to your legislator in support of the Deutch-Foster amendment to end the bed quota, head to AFSC's campaign page for a sample message and a zip code tool to help you identify your representative.

—Jane Foreman, Humanize Not Militarize intern