Washington, DC – The haphazard and egregious deportations of immigrants and family separations is a consistent trend for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As the Administration prepares to make history with its record setting two-millionth deportation in a few weeks, a new story from Esther Yu-Hsi Lee of Think Progress highlights how ICE policies encourage local police to target immigrants and Latinos for extremely minor offenses. Whereas for some people having a missing screw on a license plate would not even merit a mention, for immigrants it can easily become the entry point to deportation.
As Lee writes, “February 5, 2013 started out like any other day for Noe Parra Manrique. It was 7 a.m. and the 30-year-old single father had just dropped off his five-year-old daughter, Anita, with the babysitter. Manrique had given Anita a kiss, a hug, and was back on the road to head into work at a construction site. Soon, a police officer, parked on the side of the road, turned the siren on, and flagged him down. ‘Why am I being pulled over?’ Manrique recalled through his translator when we spoke on the phone earlier this month. ‘You’re missing a screw in your license plate,’ the police officer responded. The police officer asked about the contents of Manrique’s truck. ‘It’s all construction stuff,’ Manrique said. The officer found out that Manrique had been driving without a license. Manrique was arrested and taken into the Ocean City Police Station in Maryland where they found out that he was also undocumented.”
Manrique has already appeared before an immigration judge twice and his next (and potentially final) appearance is currently set for March. Each time, he’s petitioned for relief under a 2011 memo from former ICE Director John Morton, which lays out numerous factors that the agency is supposed to weigh before making the decision to deport someone. He would also likely be a candidate for a green card and eventual citizenship under the immigration bill passed by the Senate.
Stopping immigrants for exceedingly minor traffic offenses has become a trend for local enforcement agents that is facilitated and enabled by Obama Administration’s immigration policies. Just a few weeks ago, Ricardo Ramos, an Ohio father of three, was placed into deportation proceedings after local police officers discovered he was driving without a license and turned him over to ICE.
As Lee writes, “Manrique and Ramos are not the only immigrants who have seen the inside of a detention center for a traffic violation. In the 2011 fiscal year, at least 14,331 people were deported over a traffic violation category that includes ‘speeding, reckless driving, driving without a taillight, and driving without a license.’ And as of 2012 in Manrique’s state, only about 25 percent of immigrants deported in Maryland committed serious offenses.”
Read Lee’s “Immigrant Faces Deportation Over Missing License Plate Screw” on Think Progress HERE.
Read more about the community efforts to stop Ramos’ deportation HERE.