Immigration attorneys have a lot of anger at Republicans for their attacks on immigration reform. But they haven’t shied away from going after President Barack Obama and his administration for policies they say have been harsh to immigrants who came to the country illegally. More than a dozen members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association have demanded that White House official Cecilia Muñoz be disinvited as a featured speaker for the group’s conference, Fox News Latino reported Friday.
The lawyers say Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, has been an apologist for the Obama administration’s record number of deportations, along with a decision to ship thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America back to their homelands. They also say Muñoz has repeatedly defended the Obama policies, which have angered some immigrant advocates.
But Muñoz will not be removed as the keynote speaker at next week's conference outside Washington, said Crystal Williams, the executive director of AILA. “What matters is that she holds senior office in the White House, and thus can stand in front of a room of immigration lawyers and speak for the White House,” Williams wrote in a response to a letter from the irate attorneys. “And the White House must be held accountable for what it has done.”
AILA members Bryan Johnson and Ala Amoachi authored a letter to Williams that denounced Muñoz for shaping the Obama administration’s policies on deportations. On the other hand, Williams has had a hand in crafting Obama’s executive actions on immigration, which would defer deportations and extend work permits to millions of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children and to parents of children born in the U.S.
"[Muñoz is] one of the principal architects of shocking, widespread and ongoing human rights violations against vulnerable children fleeing Central America,” read the letter that was signed by 17 other attorneys. “As such, she should not be elevated or rewarded with the most prominent speech at AILA’s annual conference."
Muñoz, the letter continued, "is directly responsible for causing children to suffer severe and prolonged physical and mental harm in detention centers in Artesia, New Mexico; Leesport, Pennsylvania; Karnes City, Texas; and Dilley, Texas."
In her response, Williams disputed that giving Muñoz a platform at the conference would harm their cause. “So, no, we will not be disinviting Ms. Muñoz,” Williams wrote. “We will have her come and speak to our conference. We will behave professionally, but we will also challenge her to account for the administration’s actions. Our mission as an organization requires no less.”