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Over the weekend, The New York Times’ Julia Preston reported on the Obama administration’s new deportation policy. And, her article echoed concerns we’ve been hearing:
A new Obama administration policy to avoid deportations of illegal immigrants who are not criminals has been applied very unevenly across the country and has led to vast confusion both in immigrant communities and among agents charged with carrying it out.
Since June, when the policy was unveiled, frustrated lawyers and advocates have seen a steady march of deportations of immigrants with no criminal record and with extensive roots in the United States, who seemed to fit the administration’s profile of those who should be allowed to remain.
But at the same time, in other cases, immigrants on the brink of expulsion saw their deportations halted at the last minute, sometimes after public protests. In some instances, immigration prosecutors acted, with no prodding from advocates, to abandon deportations of immigrants with strong ties to this country whose only violation was their illegal status.
The full article is worth a read. The conclusion struck a chord with us:
Still, uncertainty about the policy among agents appeared more widespread than outright rejection did. That was the experience of Shamir Ali, a 24-year-old student born in Bangladesh, who was detained Oct. 19 when the police raided a Miami car rental agency where he worked, looking for someone else. Mr. Ali seemed to fit within the discretion guidelines: he had no criminal record and had been brought by his parents to the United States when he was 7. But immigration agents denied his first requests to be spared from deportation.
Then student groups staged protests on Mr. Ali’s behalf in eight cities. On Oct. 28, agents freed Mr. Ali on an order of supervision, also allowing him to apply for a work permit. For Mr. Ali, like Mr. Bartsch, that permit would be life-changing, since it would allow him to obtain a driver’s license and to enroll at resident rates in a state college.
Mr. Ali said he felt deeply grateful to the immigration agency. But he wondered: “If I didn’t have all that support, what would have happened to me?”
We often get involved in END (Education Not Deportation) cases for this very reason. What would happen without it?
Over the weekend, 450 DREAMers from around the country attended United We DREAM’s Annual Congress in Dallas. On Saturday morning, they staged a protest outside of a nearby ICE office. You can see photos from the protest here. And, watch this amazing speech by DREAMer Nicole Anonuevo, delivered during the “open mic”: