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Pictured: DC-based advocacy group Voces de la Frontera protest at DHS Secretary home.
Voces de la Frontera, a DC-based advocacy group gathered in protest outside Secretary Mayorkas' home. Photo: Courtesy of VDLF

A DC-based immigration advocacy group has a message Alejandro Mayorkas: “Do your job”

A crowd gathered in protest outside the Secretary of Homeland Security’s home.

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In the early morning of July 25, a Washington D.C.-based advocacy group Voces de la Frontera gathered in protest outside the home of the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, expressing frustration with the administration’s policy surrounding immigration. 

"We are forced to do this because Biden and Mayorkas have not fulfilled their promise to end this racist and xenophobic program. As an administration that is supposedly standing up against white supremacy and racism, they must prove it by ending the 287g program that legalizes racial profiling,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director at Voces de la Frontera. 

Hundreds of activists organized to express their frustrations by way of Constitutionally-protected free speech to denounce the administration’s position in lieu of immigration reform or lack thereof. 

Peaceful protesters chanted “Mayorkas, escucha. Estamos en la lucha,” or “Mayorkas, listen. We are fighting,” while holding a sign that read “End Police-Ice Terror.” Camera footage showed the Secretary’s security detail shoving protesters back, saying: “This is private property, buddy.”

Why it matters

During the 2020 elections, then-candidate Kamala Harris met with Voces de la Frontera in a closed-door meeting, presumably to discuss campaign matters related to immigration, followed by a prompt endorsement from the organization. 

In a written statement, Neumann-Ortiz expressed confidence in the Biden administration’s “clear policies” for immigration reform, labor protections, and access to COVID testing. Today, Neumann’s words are a sharp contrast. 

“Now is more urgent than ever considering that the U.S. Supreme Court has recently removed enforcement priorities and all 11 million [undocumented immigrants] — including children — are in danger of deportation and separation from their families. Mayorkas, as a immigrant, son of Holocaust survivors and a Latino, should stand against any policy that that forces families to live in fear. If this is a free country, prove it, end 287g now!” she wrote. 

The big picture

On July 22, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) struck down Biden’s executive order on immigration to override what his administration called a “misguided” approach to deportation measures by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement units. 

Under the Trump administration, ICE agents had little to no guidance when identifying illegal immigrants, resulting in the deportation of immigrants with no criminal record, many of whom were the sole breadwinners in their households. 

Trump’s broad approach had damaging effects on the deported families, often leaving them impoverished and emotionally traumatized by the experience. The Center for Migration Studies found that Biden’s policy was in line with past administrations and resulted in record-low deportations. 

However, Texas and Louisiana challenged the executive order, alleging it was not in line with the current law. After U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton, appointed by Trump, granted a restraining order on Biden’s moratorium, the U.S. Fifth District was inclined to agree, vacating Biden’s priority-based deportation measures and leaving the agency with no guidance. 

The Shadow Docket

Following Tipton’s restraining order on Biden’s executive order, the administration appealed to SCOTUS, which evaluated the case as part of the shadow dockets, a method of deliberation where judges don’t reveal their opinions to the public. 

In a tight 5-4 margin, SCOTUS struck down the executive order, pending further merit hearings on the matter in December. 

Immigrants still work

Meanwhile, ICE agents resumed their no-guidance operations to identify and deport immigrants, many of who participate in the U.S. economy. 

"Not only is the administration neglecting the basic dignity and humanity of immigrants across the country, the entire milk industry in Wisconsin depends on immigrant labor," a community member noted.

Will Democrats recover their base?

SCOTUS’ ruling comes as the most recent setback for the Democratic party, after a streak of crucial platform losses, such as Roe v. Wade.

"You tell us you will work for us and our rights to get our families who can vote to vote for you. And then when they say immigration is too controversial, you do nothing. Three months from now, [Democratic candidates] will make more promises. But we will not believe you until you deliver on the promises you made two years ago,” said Jesse Thornton, another organizer. 

As the march subsided for the day, protesters gathered in a nearby park to discuss immigration reform and how it impacted community individuals. 

In a statement to AL DÍA, they assured the campaign would continue until a response was heard. 

"The next move is for Secretary Mayorkas and President Biden.” 

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