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Checking-In Can Now Lead to Checking-Out

April 17, 2017
Plain English Version

Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos is locked in a van. She is on her way to being deported.
(Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP)

Immigrants in the U.S. who do not have the proper papers know they are at risk. It is the risk they took when they crossed the border or overstayed a visa.

There are actions people take to blend in with the community and find work. For example, some buy social security numbers. What happens if you get caught?

Guadalupe García de Rayos found out. In 2008, officials caught her using a fake social security number. Charges have been pending against her ever since. But she had a work authorization. She has lived in America for 21 years. Every year she checked in with the officials. Every year they said, “See you next year.” Not this year. This February she was deported. Just like that.

President Obama had his priority for removal. It was people who had committed serious crimes. In January 2017, Donald Trump became president. He said anyone here without papers with “charges pending” against them is subject to removal.

Charges pending means you have to check-in with a deportation officer. Now lawyers are warning clients that such a check-in may mean they will not see their families again. That is unless they see them from the other side of the border fence.

Trump, the candidate, said he would make America unsafe for the undocumented. He has done that. One deportation official said, “I am sorry. I am getting pressure because my title is deportation officer. My job is to deport people.”

There is the law. There is the way agencies go about their business. In this case, there is no one standard. No immigrant knows what will happen when he goes to check-in with a deportation officer.

There also is the human side. A 43-year-old undocumented man had lived in the United States for almost twenty years. He and his American wife were raising their four children in St. Joseph County, Indiana. He owned a beloved local business called Eddie’s Steak Shed. He was deported.

The mayor of the town said, “Here we have someone who is trying to do the right thing. This man has kids who are totally American and part of this community. They no longer have their father. It feels like a defeat for our community.”

There is a limit to the number of deportation officers. They have limited resources. There are criminals out there. The government sent owner of Eddie’s Steak Shed to Mexico. Is this the best way for deportation officers to spend their time?

Source: The New York Times April 11, 2017

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