WASHINGTON- Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has written to United States President Barack Obama urging him to stop the deportation of Caribbean immigrants.
In a joint letter with Arizona Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva, Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York, appealed to Obama to “respond to the crisis of deportation in the undocumented community” in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.
“As your administration nears an astounding two million deportations, we write again to reiterate our initial request and inquire into additional steps the White House can take to provide relief to the millions of ‘Americans in Waiting’ , who live and work among us,” the letter noted.
The lawmakers said there was “a great urgency to secure avenues for humanitarian relief for the millions of families that are currently suffering under the fear of detention and deportation and being subject to widespread violations of labor and civil rights.
“Embracing administrative solutions to provide categorical relief from deportation is critical to alleviate suffering today,” they said, telling Obama that as a first step in providing relief and paving the way forward on the path towards reform, he should suspend deportation of all immigrants.
Clarke told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the continued deportation of Caribbean immigrants who lack legal status has separated many families across the nation.
“This policy must end,” she stressed, adding that, with the US Congress currently debating immigration reform, “the practice of continued deportation risks the very men and women who will have the ability to apply for permanent legal status and citizenship under a new system of immigration.
“The current policy of deportation undermines the goals and principles of immigration reform.”
The two lawmakers had sent a similar letter to President Obama on December 5. It was co-signed by 26 of their colleagues, asking the White House to halt deportations of Caribbean and other immigrants, which, they claimed, have been “occurring at a record pace” since Obama took office.
The congressional representatives said there was consensus in Congress that the current immigration system was “inhumane and unacceptable in addition to being wasteful and ineffective.
“If we act according to our principles, the first step toward a reform must be to provide humanitarian relief. Every day that goes by is another day that 1,000 people are taken away from their families and another day that we failed in our commitment to immigrant families,” they added.
Grijalva, who represents the 7th Congressional District in Arizona, said “waking up each morning wondering whether you’ll be separated from your family is not any kind of way to live your life in the United States.
“We need a realistic policy,” he said, adding that he looks forward to discussing options with his Congressional colleagues and allies this week.