As Family Separations Continue, Immigrant Advocates, Nancy Pelosi and Others Press for Immigration Enforcement Reform
Washington, DC – The human toll of our failed immigration system and unrelenting deportations mounts every single day. As the holiday season approaches, the Obama Administration is on track to break yet another deportation record. The tragic case of Ardany Rosales Lemus illustrates the price of inaction that is paid by American families every day and why it is so important to change course legislatively and administratively.
The immigration reform movement is relentlessly pressuring House Republicans to act on immigration reform legislation, while simultaneously holding Democrats’ feet to the fire for continuing to carry out senseless deportations. Today, in fact, local activists are staging protests in both the DC and LA areas to try to prevent additional deportations.
Earlier this month, 29 House Democrats issued a letter to President Obama calling for a suspension to deportations and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to include “all those who would be potential citizens under immigration reform.” This morning, the DRM Action Coalition broke the news that, in an unaired interview with Telemundo, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also sees problems with the way the Administration is implementing its own prosecutorial discretion policies. Said Pelosi (per transcript posted on DRM Action Coalition website):
«If your only violation is you overstayed or came in in a certain way, that’s no reason to split a family. And we have seen the personal stories. And we presented them to the administration. So I think I’m hopeful that with the documentation that we are providing to counter what others may be saying about who’s being deported, that we will see action from the president … we know what we see. And that– you know, we say the plural of anecdote is not data. They think they see a different set of data. But our anecdotes are– are illustrative. There– there are so many examples. And for years, we have been after the administration not to h– to have this– disparity of discretion that is used. It’s wrong.”
Pelosi is right. A father of two U.S.-citizen children, Ardany should not have been a deportation priority. He originally came to the U.S. in 2005 from Guatemala to escape persecution and violence due to his work as counseling young people to avoid gangs. After unsuccessfully applying for asylum, Ardany was detained last December after a minor traffic violation and held in detention for almost a year (during which time he missed his scheduled wedding and the birth of his baby girl). Despite thousands of petitions and an all-night vigil to try to stop his deportation, ICE deported Ardany last week. A statement made it clear that the agency chose not to exercise prosecutorial discretion in his case, but did not explain why.
Ardany’s case is, unfortunately, not an isolated example. In November, an Illinois father of two named Brigido was deported, despite a high-volume campaign of petitions, phone calls, and media attention on his behalf. Brigido’s wife, Maria Perez, delivered a heartbreaking reflection about the deportation and its impact on their family as part of a pointed message to President Obama (transcript here).
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “It is outrageous that the Republicans continue to block reform in the House and outrageous that the Administration continues deporting so many good people with roots and family members in this country. Every day people like Brigido and Ardany, who could qualify for citizenship once Congress finally passes reform, are being ripped away from their families, jobs and homes. It is It’s good to see that Minority Leader Pelosi and other House Democrats speak up about this moral crisis. Now we need House Republicans to move on legislation, the White House to move administratively and Democrats in the House and Senate to keep pressing for both. Every day they delay, 1,100 American families face the tragic consequences.”