That Train Never Stops: Low-Level Offenders Still Deported From The U.S.
June 27, 2016 (Fault Lines) — Don’t let anyone tell us otherwise. The Obama administration is not only doing a very fine job of rounding up and kicking “aliens” out of the U.S., but those booted from the country include people who have been convicted of, or have pled out* to, a minor crime. The New York Times has the story:
In November 2014 when Mr. Obama first announced the protection programs, he also set new priorities for enforcement. Since then, immigration authorities say, their focus is on removing convicted criminals and foreigners who pose national security threats. But the administration’s priorities also include deporting migrants from Central America, including children, who came in an influx since 2014. And immigrants who committed minor offenses — or none at all — are often swept up in the operations.
After Thursday’s Supreme Court decision, the president’s protections are gone, but the enforcement plan remains in effect. It is part of a particularly edgy moment for immigrants and their supporters framed by the Supreme Court ruling, Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign and Britain’s surprise vote, influenced in part by anti-immigrant sentiments, to leave the European Union. (Emphasis added.)
Despite its growly limited resources given the number of people without papers, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, is using its power to chase down and deport illegals who have no serious convictions on their record. It’s as if ICE was a hunter in the wild who used rounds to shoot off pigeons.
For a moment, let’s put aside the fact that these people — and their families — don’t’ deserve to be kicked out of this country for having pled out to a minor transgression. Let’s put our collective self-interest first, and only worry about the skin on our backs. Fair enough.
But the fact that ICE is using its resources to kick these people out means that others who actually pose a threat are less likely to be apprehended and deported. In order to kick Pepe out, who had a DUI conviction** from 2001, you will need: ICE agents to pick him up; an ICE transitional center jail to warehouse him; and his name needs to be put in a court’s docket so that a government-funded prosecutor can convince a judge to banish him from the country. In other words, it’s not that easy and requires the use of resources.
But most importantly, those are resources that won’t be used to deport those with multiple felony convictions who are a real threat to society. That is time, effort, and money ICE used on Pepe that could have been put to better use on that ese from south Central who did 10 years for carjacking. These kinds of enforcement decisions put people in danger, and it all comes clear once it starts to hit home.
It hit home for Jose Cervantes Amaral from Wisconsin, when ICE showed up at the factory where he worked:
In 2006, Mr. Cervantes said in an interview by telephone on Friday, he was caught up in an immigration raid at a factory near his workplace. Local police who assisted in the raid arrested him, finding — mistakenly, he says — that he was working with documents under a false name.
Mr. Cervantes, a construction worker, pleaded guilty to a minor identity theft offense. A decade later, after he and his wife raised two daughters in Genoa City, Wis., immigration agents came to his door to deport him.
“The shock for my wife was very strong,” Mr. Cervantes said. She has been in treatment at local hospitals for kidney cancer, he said. “If we have to go back to Mexico, I won’t have her for long.”
No matter how destitute Cervantes is, he will need to retain a private immigration attorney because defendants respondents in immigration court are not entitled to one because removal proceedings are considered “civil” and not “punitive” in nature, where not even substantive due process or the Ex Post Facto clause of the U.S. Constitution are applied. He is on his own when faced with the might of the U.S. government. At least David had a rock when he took on Goliath.
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked on President Obama’s plan to shield some (about 5 million of the 11 million without papers) of those facing deportation under the guise of Deferred Action, or DACA. But even if someone is granted Deferred Action, it simply means that he will not be placed in deportation, for now at least. It simple means the Executive Branch lets that person linger in immigration limbo, as it confers him no rights to permanent residency and there’s no guarantee that it won’t change its mind tomorrow and send ICE agents to his door. Because it can.
Got no papers and a minor conviction on your record? You better watch your back, ese.
*In the context of our immigration laws, it matters not whether one was convicted by a jury of her peers, or simply pled no contest. It is still considered a conviction for immigration purposes. Many lives have been ruined as a result of lawyers’ people’s misconception in this regard.
**As of November of 2014, those with misdemeanor DUI convictions are an enforcement priority, as per ICE’s Director.