AKIN affirms that immigrants of all countries are welcome and vital members of our communities.
Yesterday, the President cast doubt on this by referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries as “shithole countries,” and by expressing his preference for immigrants from Norway. As abhorrent as these comments are, they are just the latest in this administration’s stream of remarks premised on the idea of white racial supremacy.
We cannot allow the President’s racist comments to distract attention from the actual immigration policies that result from this line of thinking. The termination of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and TPS (Temporary Protected Status), combined with the President’s push to end family-based migration and to criminalize immigrant residents, produces real harm in our communities.
Elected officials who pursue immigration policies in keeping with this administration are complicit in facilitating a racist agenda that tears families and communities apart, and harms our democracy. Many of our representatives – including Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “JJ” Jones, other local elected officials, and some members of the Tennessee General Assembly and the US Congress – fail to stand up for more just and reasonable approaches.
We call upon our local, state, and federal officials to do all in their power to support equitable immigration policies. In the short run, officials should terminate the Knox County 287(g) program and address the crisis facing DACA recipients and those stripped of TPS. In the long run, we need immigration reform that addresses the root causes of migration and ensures the security and dignity of all people.
AKIN held its Annual Meeting on July 8, 2016, and it was a successful evening that boosted our spirits.
In planning for the event, we assumed it would be a small affair. After all, on June 23 we had mounted a major push, strongly urging all members and supporters to turn out for actions called by Knoxville’s immigrant-led grassroots group, the Comité Popular.
June 23 was a watershed — and severely disappointing — moment for the immigrant community, because it was the day the US Supreme Court announced its split decision in the case of United States v. Texas. That result allowed a provisional injunction against Obama’s 2014 “deferred action” programs to stand, thereby postponing a final decision until after the President will have left office, and leaving in limbo hundreds of thousands of people across the country who had hoped for temporary relief under that program. (Click here to read AKIN’s statement on the ruling.)
So our expectations for turn-out were low, but in fact we garnered quite a respectable showing from both immigrant and non-immigrant communities, despite a lightning-laced storm that hit Knoxville that evening.
This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
Check out this cover story on Knoxville’s Juan Quevedo from the Spring 2015 issue of the Tennessee College of Law alumni magazine. Quevedo went public about his experiences as a way of helping to change the climate for unauthorized immigrants in the US. From the article:
“I have fallen deeply in love, not with a human being, but with the law. Not with walking the dog or gazing at the stars or watching the sunset, but with seeking equal justice, organizing for civil rights, and advocating for genuine representation of the low-income and undocumented immigrant community.” – Juan Quevedo
Common Myths about Immigrants and Immigration in Tennessee
Myth #1: Undocumented immigrants are criminals.
In fact, unlawful presence in the United States is a civil violation of federal law, not a crime. Therefore, undocumented immigration status does not make someone a criminal. While some public figures claim that immigrants are filling our jails, many of those same individuals support legislation that turns everyday activities into crimes—like driving to work or renting an apartment. According to U.S. Census data, immigrants have the lowest rates of imprisonment for criminal convictions in American society (Migration Policy Institute). The incarceration rate of the US born (3.51) is four times the rate of the foreign-born (.086). Between 1990 and 2004, the number of foreign-born in Tennessee increased by 267%; but in the last ten years, the overall crime rate has actually decreased, and the rate of violent crime decreased by more than 5% (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation).