Immigration Demonstrators Walk Out, Make Headlines

by ARLnow.com August 26, 2011 at 3:43 pm 4,448 63 Comments

From the Associated Press to the New York Times to Iran’s Press TV, Wednesday night’s public forum on the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program, held at George Mason University’s Founders Hall in Virginia Square, generated plenty of headlines.

The forum was organized as a listening session by a volunteer task force charged with recommending changes to Secure Communities, which Arlington tried and failed to opt out of last year.

After a raucous hour of impassioned speeches, about 150 pro-immigrant demonstrators marched and chanted their way out of the building, declaring the forum an “absolute sham” and demanding that the task force resign. The walkout — and many of the speeches and chants that preceded it — was choreographed by the group CASA de Maryland, which has been speaking out against Secure Communities since its inception.

Armed with signs and slogans, group members helped to pack the auditorium at GMU to its 300 person capacity. Numerous speakers — including ministers, monks, attorneys, activists and County Board member Walter Tejada — told of Secure Communities’ alleged impacts, from the deportation of teenagers to the threatened deportation of accident victims. While it’s supposed to help track down undocumented perpetrators of serious crimes, Secure Communities is not working as the Obama Administration intended, immigrant advocates argued.

The demonstrators’ pivotal moment came when two undocumented mothers, facing deportation proceedings, confronted Marc Rapp, who had been inconspicuously sitting in the audience, observing the proceedings. Rapp, the Department of Homeland Security official in charge of overseeing the Secure Communities program, was told through an interpreter that one of the women, Maria Bolanos, was picked up after she called police during a fight with her domestic partner. She decried Secure Communities and asked to be reunited with her children, as Rapp listened quietly.

Shortly thereafter the CASA protesters filed out of the room, shouting “end it, don’t mend it.” After a noisy demonstration outside the building, they marched down Fairfax Drive and into nearby St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church.

Back inside at GMU, the discussion continued. Several people spoke in favor of Secure Communities. With the protesters out of the building, there were fewer hisses and boos as they spoke of the need to make sure the country’s laws are followed.

“If you’re going to be an illegal immigrant in this country, the least you can do is not do crime and not get arrested,” said Columbia Pike resident John Antonelli. Other speakers suggested the 9/11 terror attacks could have been prevented by stricter immigration enforcement.

Ofelia Calderon, an immigration attorney who works in Virginia Square, “thanked” members of the task force for the extra business she’s been getting because of Secure Communities.

“You’re making me a lot of money,” she said. “Secure Communities is picking up everybody,” including immigrants charged with traffic tickets or being drunk in public, she said.

“I don’t see how Secure Communities is securing Arlington,” she said. “[It] isn’t working in the way you say it’s working.”

Others said that Secure Communities is making the country less safe by discouraging immigrants to provide information to the police.

Wednesday’s event was the last of four planned forums across the country. Task force members said that the forums in Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago attracted similar anti-Secure Communities fervor. The task force is expected to generate a report on its findings for the Department of Homeland Security next month.

  • Somebody check Tejada’s papers.

    • @ Funny DB who can’t see anyone having a different opinion than he/she.

    • Bluemontsince1961


  • Rick

    Sounds like a mature group of people. I still can’t get past the idea that people who violate federal law have some sort of rights. It’s not a good situation for the children and they didn’t do anything wrong but come on.

    • Funny

      That was the justification for the Bush tortures. Just because they are not ‘Mericans doesn’t mean they don’t have rights. Sorry you value human rights so poorly.

      • Gregggggg

        Wait – you’re Steve86, right?

      • Somebody get the straight jacket.

      • SMDL

        It’s really sad that you value our country and it’s laws so poorly. Yes, it’s all Bushes fault. I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you a quarter now go buy a clue.

  • ¿Qué parte de “ilegal” no comprenden ellos? (In the language of the “dominant culture”: “What part of ‘illegal’ don’t they understand?”)

    • Funny

      Did you translate that on babelfish? Because you obviously don’t understand how Spanish works.

  • Lou

    Get legal. Problem solved.

    • Z

      While I agree with you in theory, it is often a years-long, arduous journey to finally become a legal citizen. I know an extremely upstanding young man from Africa who is on an extended Visa and wants to become a citizen but is having a lot of difficulty navigating the bureaucratic process.

      • Shawn K

        On extended visa = here legally. Here undocumented, with no visa = here illegally. Your friend is not at issue and is welcome!

      • Andrew

        Becoming a citizen here is not easy. Nor would it be easy if I, an american citizen wanted to become a citizen in another country.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      Exactly, Lou.

  • Pablo Hector Oritz-Diego

    Hopefully we all can come together and end discrimination

    • We can shackle all the illegal folks in jail with the pregnant inmates while they await deportation.

    • Andrew

      I hope this is sarcasm. What discrimination? Discrimination against people who are breaking the law by committing crimes or by being in this country illegally?

    • SMDL

      Hey Pablo, It’s not discrimination. It’s the law of the land. Stop making things up.

  • Andrew

    From the article: “Secure Communities is picking up everybody,” including immigrants charged with traffic tickets or being drunk in public, she said.

    Secure Communities does not go out and arrest people. Secure Communities is an initiative that identifies people who are in this country illegally that have committed a crime. There are no Secure Communities officers that go out looking for people to arrest so they can deport them. If someone is arrested, (e.g., for DWI or domestic disturbance) they get fingerprinted at the local police station and if their fingerprints match the federal database for someone who is here illegally, ICE gets called and then ICE officers come and collect them.

    Yes, people are being removed for minor offenses. But so are murderers and rapists.


    Didn’t you know, only citizens have to follow laws…

  • Danville Mayor

    I was there and I spoke in favor of Secure Communities. I hate that Walter Tejada stands up and says he speaks for all of Arlington… because he certainly does not include me in his group of followers.

    One of the speakers (a minister) talked openly about a woman who came here illegally, eventually received her citizenship, and then paid smugglers to bring her son over from Mexico. The son was caught, and she is complaining that he is being deported. Quite frankly, she should be in prison herself, and her son sent home.

    The “protest” was a joke. If I was running the meeting, I would have given them one warning, and then evicted them. And I would have checked the ID’s of everyone entering the meeting. If you are not a US citizen, then you have no right to protest.

    • GCH_Now

      “… And I would have checked the ID’s of everyone entering the meeting. If you are not a US citizen, then you have no right to protest.”

      Guilty until proven innocent? I did not realize that peaceful protests are now criminal activities. Are your papers in order?

      This is the fundamental flaw with most DHS programs and those who would sacrifice freedom for the false safety of a security state.


        The US Constitution applies to non-US citizens?

        Do tell friend, who was your Civics teacher.

        • smoke_jaguar4

          Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 1886. Google it.


            Your evidence that ICE is carrying this out in a prejudicial manner?

            Maybe anyone on this thread would like to enlighten us all as to who decides which laws to enforce and which not to enforce…

            I know I’d sure like to know so that the next time I get speeding ticket, tax bill, late fee, etc I can go to this Grand Poobah and put in a request.

          • smoke_jaguar4

            Your original question was if the constitution applies to non-citizens. Yick Wo demonstrates that the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment applies to non-citizens (in this case, Chinese immigrants).

            Perhaps you should tell us who was your reading comprehension teacher?

            The case law has been fairly consistent; non-citizens receive the same constitutional protections citizens receive. A more relevant 1st Amendment case is Bridge v. Wixon, 1945.

    • Funny

      God, you people really don’t understand. Do you think they come here because they want to deal with people like you? They come here to feed their families. You just don’t understand. Try some empathy. I’m sure you have never broken the law.

      • Shawn K

        You really don’t understand. They don’t have the legal right to be here. They broke immigration laws by coming here. Breaking the law is illegal. They are acting illegally. By staying here they continue to break the law, thereby acting illegally and subjecting themselves to justifiable arrest, punishment and deportation for breaking the law.

        Does that

        • Shawn K

          . . . help?

          • Funny

            No, I really do understand, and care. It’s called empathy and common sense. You seem to have neither. Wake up! You just don’t understand. What do you work behind a desk obstructing honest citizens like myself from earning a living. I’m sure your people came here completely legally… Probably on the Mayflower you self righteous SOB.

        • smoke_jaguar4

          So what about the businesses that hire illegal labor? Aren’t they breaking the law as well? What should they get? For every person deported, their employer should at least pay a fine equal to the cost (processing, manpower, facilities, transportation, etc…). Repeat offenders should be jailed
          The problem with the current illegal immigration enforcement is that it focuses almost exclusively on the supply and not on the demand. When business owners start paying the true price for their actions will we see a meaningful change.

        • Bluemontsince1961

          I agree, Shawn K.

  • Skeptical

    Even if these people felt that the task force was window dressing, they shot themselves in the foot by being disruptive and walking out of the meeting. If you think something is broken, stay and participate in fixing it — don’t throw an immature temper tantrum. Where in h-e-chopsticks is it written that social justice equals bending over backwards to ignore crimes committed by people who are not citizens or legal immigrants and therefore cannot have their records traced?

    I completely understand why someone would not wish to live in rural Mexico or Salvador if they thought they had a chance at living in Arlington, but what better reason is there to avoid committing a criminal offense or even being disruptive?

    If people think the immigration laws should be changed, that’s fine too, gin up some support and work to change them if you can make your case, but don’t expect the community where you live to opt out of the laws.

    • Funny

      If the law is immoral you have an obligation to oppose it. See MLK memorial speeches, formerly scheduled for Sun.

      • Shawn K

        If you are here illegally it is illegal to oppose it. Because, you see, it is illegal for you to be here to oppose it. Because by being here without following lawful procedures you are breaking the law, which is illegal.

  • Hmm

    ICE should have been waiting outside with an empty bus.

    • sizzlecity

      I totally agree – how are these people demanding anything when the first thing they did upon entering this country is break the law – simply amazing doesn’t begin to explain…can we please start booting the illegals!!!

      • smoke_jaguar4

        Assuming all the demonstrators were non-citizens?

        • Frank

          Assuming none of them were?

      • Funny

        [This comment has been deleted]

        • Lee-n-Glebe

          Your Vocabulary seems rather limited.

        • pot calling the kettle black

        • Shirley

          we should deport anyone who only wields ad hominem comments

  • roquer

    I’d say Secure Communities is doing a fine job. We’re getting not only serious criminals, but folks having tickets and DWI, and Reckless Driving. The rest of us have to pay for the these people any other time, now they can pay for being here illegally and being found out.
    As far as not giving info to the cops, if the cops are investigating a crime, and people aren’t giving ID info then they get to go to jail, again, removing illegals. I don’t see the problem.

  • JimPB

    Countries have the right to regulate immigration and to deport those who are here illegally.

    There are opportunities here for a better life, but there are real risks for illegal immigrants.

    Illegal immigration has thrived in part because it has been to the advantage of businesses (cheaper labor, no rights, discard if raise issues or suffer work-related injuries) and of individuals (cheaper house cleaning and nanny help). The recently published book Tomato land includes a description of the exploitation (high rents for vastly overcrowded, dismal housing and high food charges for dismal offerings), heavy exposure to pesticides and insecticides (clothing saturated repeatedly with toxic sprays) and de facto enslavement of immigrants for toiling in the Florida tomato fields. That’s just the most recent of a series of abuses of illegal immigrants by businesses and individuals.

    The problem gets sticky when there are children born in the U.S. (thereby citizens) or who were brought here at a young age and our essentially Americans. Deporting illegal immigrant parent(s) of children who are not yet adults and functioning independently is not an action with which I am comfortable. Children need their parents. Deporting children who were brought here at a young age and raised here as Americans is also something with which I am not comfortable.

    Careful consideration and calm discussion is needed.

  • Steve

    Uh, why Is CASA de Maryland protesting in VIRGINIA???

  • steve

    All of you against these, PLEASE send in a larger check of taxes to teh government to pay for the services they use up. It’s really, really selfish for you to expect OTHERS to pay for the things you want, especially when it involves BREAKING THE DAMN LAW.

    • Richard Cranium

      Can you define “these” please?

      After that, please define “is” and finally “antidisestablishmentarianiasm.”


  • Shirley

    Why don”t we treat them the way their respective countries would treat them should they be in the country illegally? That seems fair.
    So what does Mexico do with it’s illegals? Do they get automatic amnesty?

  • Mark

    How about we match Mexico’s immigration laws. I think that seems fair.

  • Newtdog73

    “While it’s supposed to help track down undocumented perpetrators of serious crimes, Secure Communities is not working as the Obama Administration intended, immigrant advocates argued”.

    I guess you can add this to the list of things that aren’t working under the “O” administration.

  • novasteve

    The funniest thing I’m seeing, is that to pick up sandbags to protect your home from flooding, you need photo ID to prove you are a resident.. Happening in DC, Alexandria, etc.. Police are even stopping people checking IDs to make sure. But if you did that for voting, liberals would be shrieking about how it is racism.

  • jack

    The sign they are carrying has nothing to do with reality. The reason that illegal immigrants (who are not minors) are not appreciated (not hated) is because they broke the law coming into the US. Any demand for entitlement after breaking the law is just dumbfounding. Yes, basic protection….no entitlement.

  • Brittanicus

    What is President Obama next obnoxious assault on America, relating to illegal Immigration?

    Congress may be on vacation, but the American worker should be in full crisis mode! After an atrocious fight under the rotunda about the debt ceiling, the majority of Congressional leaders left Capitol Hill thinking their work for the summer would be over. But after that, the Obama Administration announced the postponement of practically ALL deportations of non-violent illegal aliens already ordered by U.S. immigration courts.

    Think this is bad? Well it gets even worse!

    Not merely will the President let these 300,000 illegal aliens disregard their deportation orders, he is beginning to give these illegal aliens work visas to compete with U.S. workers! That’s right! These 300,000 (and possibly more!) illegal aliens will not be returning to their home countries, even though a U.S. judge had ordered them to leave. Instead, they will be handed a free pass and perhaps a work visa to compete with 22 million Americans who cannot find full time work. The quickest and surest way to discourage President Obama’s minions from carrying out this plan is public outrage. By Channeling public feeling into constructive political action is what we do. If anyone can keep pressure on Obama, it’s NumbersUSA. HELP US!!! Go to the “American Patrol “website and see the news that Democrats and the left don’t want you to see?

    According to “American Patrol” Web site, almost one million illegal immigrants cross into the U.S annually. Illegally aliens flow easily through Arizona, while the Obama government claims it has build more than 300 miles of fencing on the 400-mile Arizona-Mexico border. A large part is ineffective, being vehicle barriers or discounted fencing. A map and photographs of the Arizona border fence is available here. Glenn Spenser of American Patrol asked, “How far have we sunk as a nation when a small border state in the midst of a recession has to ask for donations to protect itself against an invasion that is sponsored in part by the President of the United States?” He explained that Arizona is collecting donations to build a fence along its border with Mexico, which is outrageous.

    One of the distressing things about this is that Obama frequently stated in recent months that he would NOT force any type of immigration rule on his own “without the consent or passage by Congress.” This new policy proves Mr. Obama’s previous law-abiding propaganda to be deceptive at best. He was unable to jostle an illegal alien amnesty through Congress, so he just structured a temporary one by fiat. This is an attack on the Rule of Law and our Constitution. Don’t you agree?

    Only Congress and the general public can undo this misconduct now. We have to let loose every weapon in our political arsenal in rolling back this Amnesty. NumbersUSA will send out millions of free faxes and make thousands of telephone calls. We must lobby Congress to keep them up to date! The public also can bombard their Senate and Congressional representatives through the Washington switchboard at 202-224-3121

    The Administration timed its new amnesty policy to take effect during August, when Congress is out of session and the news media was sidetracked or simply ignored this disturbing issue. Sure enough, this is another amnesty that has flown under the radar of most media outlets. Six other small amnesties also were enacted silently while the press looked the other way after the 1986 immigration law. How many of your local newspapers, TV stations, or favorite blogs have reported this story?

    We all know that the open borders, businesses lobbyists, churches, unions have scolded Obama at every turn for increasing deportations (which the American population have asked him for). But just now, when zero-tolerance deportations are starting to have an impact, he turns his back on law enforcement. And in doing so, he is shrugging his shoulder on the American people. The President took an oath to follow the law — not capsize the laws. The American people can stop this by screaming the loudest. Obama will not follow through with this policy if the America person rises up and yells bloody murder.

    This is the time to empty the overcrowded classrooms, full with the children of illegal aliens. Give hospitals breathing space and saving billions of dollars from uninsured illegal immigrants, who knowingly enter by foot, vehicle, aircraft or boat into the United States. Entering illegally is a violation of our national sovereignty and it should be a felony, for anybody who knowingly breaks the rules, including businesses who hire them. Start the Attrition by enforcement programs such as E-Verify, Secure Communities and support Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Utah and States nationwide that have no choice but to restrict illegal immigrants through police laws as their welfare programs are being sucked dry.

    Frightened illegal nationals are bypassing Arizona and loading their possessions, heading for Sanctuary States as California, Nevada, Illinois, Washington State and many counties within particular States. Rick Perry looking to enter the “White House” has an (D-) on illegal immigration as accredited to NumbersUSA, showing no leadership on pressing E-Verify for his state of Texas. Perry seems completely oblivious to illegal alien invaders, with absolute unconcern for the welfare of taxpayers. Just two TEA PARTIERS see illegal immigration as a growing mammoth problem, that being Rep. Michelle Bachmann and Rep. Herman Cain.

    We cannot accommodate any longer those who come here to steal welfare and public services from valid Americans. It is estimated that illegal aliens send home by wire transfer around $40 billion dollars annually, which should be going into state treasuries. Join the TEA PARTY; join the people who are Black, White, Hispanic and every race, religious persuasion and further backgrounds who believe in the “Rule of Law.” Sorry! We don’t accept illegal immigrants.

    MY EARLIER BLOGS: http://brittanicus-enoughisenough.blogspot.com/

    No Copyright. Distribute Freely.

    • There should be a character limit on posting.

      • Richard Cranium

        Seconded. With feeling.

    • Ted Williams


  • Alexandrian

    My parents are immigrants, my wife is an immigrant, and they all came to the US legally and at great sacrifices. Granting illegal immigrants any rights is a slap in the face to every legal resident and naturalized citizen in this country, Period.

    I wasn’t part of the process of my parents’ quest to citizenship, but I was part of the “humiliation” of my wife’s quest: being herded like cattle at the US consulate in her home country for her fiance visa, the medical exams, the questions asked (were you ever a prostitute, were you part of the Nazi regime in Germany, etc…). The exhorbitant fees, the reherding like cattle again at NIS (or whatever they’re called today) offices in Ballston then in Merrifield…

    Is reform needed? Hell yeah. But not in the form of rewarding/pardoning people who lived here illegally and breaking the law in doing so. Changes need to be made in the questions asked (Nazi, really? How the hell can someone born in the late 70s be associated with the Nazis?! Some common sense please!), the way people are treated at consulates/embassies abroad.

    Funny story. A colleague of mine from the Middle East who is technically a Palestinian refugee got citizenship a couple of years ago. He’s now petitioning to bring his parents – who are Palestinian refugees in Lebanon – to the US. Since they were born in what was Palestine (pre-1948), the geniuses at the Department of State send their paperwork to the American Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, instead of Beirut, Lebanon! I mean come on, any dimwhit knows Palestinian refugees are forbidden from setting foot in Israel.

    Yes, reform is definitely needed, but not the kind illegals are asking for.


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