Monday, January 28, 2008
Divided by deportation. Sometimes Immigration laws end up punishing the good people by unjust and destructive deportations. Where are does Hispanic politicians claimed that it was a light at the end of the tunnel. No. There are no such a light. Everyday looks darker and darker for the Legal and undocumented Immigrants!!!!!.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 273,289 foreign-born residents have been sent back to their native countries for immigration violations in the past year.
Many had been in the United States only a few weeks, but countless others had put down roots, taken out mortgages and raised families by the time the law-- and the recently beefed-up immigration enforcement system-- came back to haunt them.
"I know this is a politically sensitive issue, an emotional issue. But we have to enforce the law, and the law is very clear," said Michael Keegan, an ICE spokesman. "It states simply that if an individual is out of status, having a U.S.-born child does not qualify the parent to gain legal status. Even if they have relatives who are U.S. citizens, the law doesn't bleed over to give them the same rights."
Immigration judges have limited discretion to consider family circumstances and homeland conditions, but if a deportation order has been issued-- no matter how long ago-- and the illegal immigrant has failed to appear for the hearing, that person is considered to have already had a "day in court" and is not eligible for special consideration.
In some cases, an immigrant's past catches up with him at an especially difficult moment. Samir Saleh, an Israeli hairdresser, came to the United States in the 1990s as a tourist and married a young American woman in what was later ruled a case of immigration fraud. He appealed the ruling but eventually divorced, remarried and settled in Cleveland.
Last April, Saleh was deported to Israel for immigration fraud, just as his second wife learned she had terminal cancer. His attorney, Philip Eichorn, said he filed for a temporary visa on humanitarian grounds so they could be together for the holidays, but it was denied last week. His wife, now bald from chemotherapy, made a decision.
She told me, 'I am done with this country. I have a little time left, and I want to spend it with him,' " Eichorn said in a telephone interview Saturday. "They were really in love. You couldn't stage the joy on her face in their wedding photos. She left for Israel yesterday."
For illegal immigrants who commit serious crimes, deportation is both legally automatic and more efficiently enforced than in the past. Immigration officials say they are working with every federal prison and many state and local prisons to ensure such inmates are deported after serving their sentences. In 2007, about 89,000 such people were deported, Keegan said.
Sometimes, however, immigration laws end up punishing people who appear to have led exemplary lives. The case of Esperanza Ramirez, 62, who was deported to Mexico in October, has stunned the network of relatives and friends in San Diego to whom she was a quiet but indomitable role model.
Ramirez, who crossed the Mexican border illegally in 1979, spent the next 27 years working as a hotel maid, avocado packer and office cleaner to put seven children through school. They earned degrees, found good jobs, got married and produced 12 grandchildren.
Along the way, her daughter Norma Chávez said in a telephone interview, the family made attempts to obtain legal immigration status for her. First they obtained a temporary work permit, which was extended repeatedly. Then they applied for legal residency three times, gathering support letters and waiting for hearings. In September, Ramirez was told to report to the U.S. consulate in Juárez, Mexico, for an interview.
"I guess it should have raised a red flag, but we all thought she was going there to pick up her green card," Chávez recounted. "Instead, the consulate told her the application had been denied and that she was barred from returning" to the United States for 10 years. "Just like that, she was gone," she said.
Now Ramirez is living alone in the village the rest of her family left years ago. The children call her often, and she tells them she is doing fine, but Chávez said she was sounding "a little sadder" as the holidays approached. "We always have tamales at Christmas, but she's the only one who knows how to make them," Chávez said. "Now we are trying to figure out how to do it ourselves."
Jeanne Butterfield, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said she has seen many cases of unjust and destructive deportations. She said that although immigration enforcement is "an important priority, our laws are so broken that enforcement ends up targeting the wrong people. Families are being ripped apart, and people are being deported for decades-old conduct that they have since rectified."
For immigrant families with young U.S.-born children, the deportation of a spouse or breadwinner presents especially wrenching difficulties. Miguel Díaz said that his children miss their mother terribly but that there is no way he would send them home to be with her. In Baltimore, they are immersed in science and math, church and sports. In El Salvador, they would be surrounded by poverty, crime and gangs.
"It is no place to raise a family, with so much insecurity. Even without her, they are better off here," said Díaz, who plans to apply for U.S. citizenship so he can sponsor his wife for legal residency, which could take 10 years. "This is very hard, and very unfair, but we will get through it," he vowed. "We are a strong family, and this will make us more united."