Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Congressman Gutiérrez Has Falling Out With NIYA Over Immigration Reform Tactics

Marco Pacheco being arrested at U.S. Senator Bob Menéndez office. Photos: Facebook

Marcela Espinoza

Photo: Facebook

Congressman Gutiérrez will no longer work with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance and the DREAMActivist dot org.

By H. Nelson Goodson
November 5, 2013

Washington, D.C. - On Monday, the Office of Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) announced that Gutiérrez will no longer work with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) and their affiliated advocates at DREAMActivist dot org. The latest decision by Gutiérrez shows a deep division and a difference of strategy to deal with immigration reform between immigrant rights groups.
Douglas Rivlin, spokesman and Director of Communication for Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez says, that on Monday, representatives of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA), DREAMActivist dot org, and the DREAM 30 sat-in at the office of Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) in Washington, D.C.  One activist, Marcela Espinoza, 28, from Illinois, who was recently released from detention in El Paso, Texas at the request of Congressman Gutiérrez, was removed from the office of Congressman Gutiérrez for refusing to leave until the Congressman spoke personally with President Obama and secured the release of other detainees.  Espinoza was arrested for unlawful entry by Capitol Police and two other activists left the office voluntarily.  
Rivlin in a news release says, that Congressman Gutiérrez met privately with the parents of some of the young people in detention in El Paso last week in Washington; a meeting that was frank, emotional, and confidential.  But that meeting was also recorded surreptitiously by NIYA, without the knowledge of the parents, the Congressman or his staff.  It is unfortunate that the actions of the advocates in this case are preventing this office from being able to work with parents and family who are understandably and rightly concerned for the safety of their son or daughter.
The illicit tape recording of a confidential conversation was the latest chapter in a long and difficult relationship with NIYA and its leaders.  The NIYA leaders have expressed their strong opposition to immigration reform and don't believe a bill will pass this year. They have also expressed disturbing racism, and have put young people in harm's way, according to Gutiérrez.  In talking with the families, the Congressman and his staff believe that the parents and families were being manipulated by NIYA and its leaders and were not well informed about the law and the legal process.
Gutiérrez is warning parents that these actions can hurt the chances that young people will be able to return to the United States or live legally in the United States.  Only one in ten asylum cases like these are approved and a deportation or removal could put future legal status in doubt.  Congressman Gutiérrez continues to fight for the ability of DREAMers and their parents to remain in the U.S. or to enter legally, if they have been removed or left the United States.
The Congressman's staff had been working with the Department of Homeland Security and the attorney for the detainees to help secure their release.  The Congressman's staff has also communicated directly with a number of the parents, siblings and supporters of the detainees in the past several weeks, according to Rivlin.
Also arrested was Marco Pacheco, of Texas, who refused to leave the office of Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) and another DREAMer Brandol Pahuamba was arrested later in day at the office of U.S. Senator Bob Menéndez (D-NJ). Both Pacheco and Pahuamba were arrested for unlawful entry, according to police.
The DREAMers wanted legislators to intervene in the deportation process of eight members of their group known as the DREAM 30.  Eight DREAMers are awaiting deportation and 21 have been freed pending the outcome of their legal status.  Rocio Hernández Pérez, 23, has been deported after leaving the U.S. and then attempting to reenter the country with more than 30 DREAMers at the Laredo International border crossing from Mexico. The DREAM 30 had applied for asylum, but were arrested and sent to an El Paso, Texas ICE processing center.
NIYA released the following statement in response to Gutiérrez accusing them of manipulating undocumented families. NIYA states that they haven't worked with Gutiérrez months before September 2012, "Since the launch of the #BringThemHome campaign, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, especially Rep. Cuellar and Rep. Gutiérrez have stuck to one talking point: the families of the #Dream30 are being manipulated by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance. We have always found this analysis to be horribly off and, at its core, very dehumanizing. Rep. Gutiérrez wants YOU to believe that if a “Mexican” finds his or her way to his Capitol office to ask for something, then he or she must be being manipulated. The only place a “Mexican” must know is in the back of someone’s kitchen or office, doing back-breaking work. We find Rep. Gutiérrez’s statements to be absolutely dis-empowering and a disservice to the real power of the undocumented community."
"As the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, we are the only national network that is led entirely by undocumented youth. The decisions as to what we work on and the direction in which we go are completely in line with the needs of the undocumented community. That is the reason why we have already, purposefully infiltrated several detention centers and have had members willingly return to Mexico in an effort to bring home other exiled DREAMers. As NIYA, we ultimately lay our faith in our own community, and believe that an empowered community is more powerful than other organizations at accomplishing its goals.
"Given Rep. Gutiérrez’s recent posturing, it is all the more evident to us that to those like him, an empowered community that dares to make an ask of him is a very dangerous thing. In the role that Mr. Gutiérrez has carved out for the “Mexican,” they are only expected to get involved in politics when he is on one of his many national church tours. Their only role is to fill his pews, provide tears for the cameras so that he, as the “Moses of the Latinos” can once again “tell us” how bad deportations are. But once they begin forming their own political opinions and demanding more than just the scraps from the table, can only mean they are being manipulated," NIYA stated. 

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