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Feet on the Ground, Head in the Sky: Reflections on the #Not1More Deportation Campaign

I never thought my favorite Talking Heads song could describe campaign strategy.

Nevertheless, in addition to compelling me to sing badly, real loud, out loud, there’s this part in ‘This Must be the Place’ that reminds me of the #Not1More Deportation campaign: Feet on the Ground, Head in the Sky…

The #Not1More deportation campaign grows out of several years of day laborer and community organizing to resist the devolution of federal immigration enforcement to local law enforcement agencies.  During that time the campaign demands have evolved with the growth of the deportation machine and the efforts to resist it.  We know them by now: the ‘Secure Communities’ program, 287(g) agreements, Operation Streamline, state laws like Georgia’s HB87, Arizona’s SB1070 and unfortunately, many other policies.  All throughout, the compass of our organizing has been the idea that we are fighting for legalization by resisting criminalization.

This year, parallel to the large scale and heavy lift of a campaign that is for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) in Congress, we launched the #Not1More deportation campaign.  Parallel because we believed that making deportations an issue within the debate would advance reform efforts, not undermine them.  People who have been ensnared in the deportation dragnet are some of the best spokespeople who can explain why change is needed.  We also viewed the campaign as necessary because it could hold ‘champions’ accountable while helping to prevent the right-ward shift we’ve seen happen to countless other bills of this size in Congress (i.e. healthcare, budget).  Finally, it was needed because the passage of CIR was not a guarantee, and our community desperately needs relief.  In the absence of changing laws, we knew that the remaining option that could benefit the largest amount of people was through changing policy in the executive branch, within the Obama Administration. Read more