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As with war, Obama has been disappointing on civil liberties issues, such as

  • DNA fingerprinting of all arrestees, whether convicted or not, in spite of known racial profiling for arrests
  • the extension of the Patriot Act,
  • extraordinary renditions,
  • military tribunals,
  • detentions without charges,
  • not  charging Yoo and Bybee, the legal architects of torture,
  • not  closing Guantanamo, and
  • failure to intervene in the cases of Mumia and Lynne Stewart.

Similarly, Obama has been disappointing on immigration issues, such as

  • family separations,
  • widespread ICE raids,
  • mass firings,
  • police checkpoints,
  • Increased immigrant detention and deportations, and
  • a network of secret detention facilities violating basic rights and needs.
  • Meanwhile a flawed immigration reform bill is being introduced that promises to arouse more controversy this summer.

Some examples:

  • Obama appoints Gov. of highly anti-immigrant state, Arizona, as Homeland Security chief, who has started combing through local jails nationwide, placing deportation holds on anyone suspected of being undocumented. (Progressive, 02-03-2010)
  • On any given day, more than 32,000 immigrants are in detention under President Obama (Latino Evangelical Blog, 03-10-2010) in a secretive web of over 350 private, federal, state and local jails and prisons,

One of the most horrifying images we have of nineteenth century US slavery was families split apart on the auction block. 

We tend to shudder at this image and tell ourselves that was a different time, but as this story shows, families are still being split apart, as part of a new form of slavery. 

Today, the exploitation of immigrant labor is enforced by the terror of ICE raids and family separation rather than iron shackles, but it is slavery all the same.

In the mid-1800s, John Brown led a raid in Harper’s Ferry to seize arms with the hope of sparking widespread slave insurrections. 

Soon afterward, war erupted to settle the issue. 

Brown, like others, could not turn his eyes away from the realities of chattel slavery. 

How would he react to this story of a family split apart by US immigration policy? 

How should we react?

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