Immigration Rights Advocate Is Disappointed In Obama

Arizona public defender Isabel Garcia has fought for immigrant rights and justice on both sides of the US-Mexico border for more than thirty years, and she says Obama's early choices are "bad news" for immigrants.

Especially troubling, says Garcia in an interview with In These Times, is Obama's selection of former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security. She says,

Napolitano may have been a moderate on other issues, but she certainly was not on immigration. She made her name on the backs of Mexican immigrants.

As governor, she signed the anti-smuggling statute that prosecutes immigrants for being their own smuggler. She signed a law equating people utilizing fictitious Social Security numbers-which has been done since the 1930s-to aggravated identity theft. She made it a crime to drive without an Arizona license and, therefore, they can take your car away. She is the one who has demanded tougher employer sanctions. Her language and rhetoric and her hype and fear are irresponsible.

Garcia also speaks out against the effect of American trade policies on Mexican workers, the militarization of Mexican society as a result of the war on drugs, and the subcontracting of border security to companies like Correctional Corporation of America, which has been accused of corruption and violence. She hopes Obama will support the Dream Act, which would allow undocumented students to gain temporary residency in the US, but she says, "for those of us who strongly supported Obama, we knew the reality. We knew that we, at the border, were still going to have an uphill fight because Obama has no clue. He doesn't know."

An Inconvenient Woman [In These Times]