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New York Times: Paying the Price of Re-Entry, 16 Years Later

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Today, Alfredo Ramos’ case reached a happy development when he was released and allowed to go home with his family.  Next, Alfredo, his advocates, and his lawyers will try to clear his indictment — handed down last week for nothing more than the fact that he once re-crossed the border to reunite with his family after he’d been deported.

Alfredo is one of the lucky ones.  Prosecutions for immigration violations are still a plurality of federal cases and a previous deportation is so often used as a reason not to enact prosecutorial discretion on a case.  For example, read about Josue Noe Sandoval-Perez’s story at the New York Times today.  Josue, like Alfredo, faced deportation after sixteen years in the US, and was deemed a target for removal because he had previously been deported before.  Also like Alfredo, he was the breadwinner for his family, which included US citizen children.  Unlike Alfredo, Josue was not given a reprieve and was deported in January.

Read his story at the New York Times.  An excerpt follows below:

The cellblock intercom awoke Josue Noe Sandoval-Perez at 1 o’clock on a frigid January morning at a detention center in northwest Missouri: Get your things, get ready to go. Immigration officials were preparing to whisk him away.

A day earlier the government denied an appeal of his deportation order, but no one told his family, nor was he allowed to call.

So while Mr. Sandoval-Perez, 41, an illegal immigrant with a previous deportation on his record, was beginning his journey back to his native Mexico, his family was clinging to hope at a rally in a park here. Holding signs, they argued that he had been in the country for 16 years, had no criminal record, paid taxes and was the primary breadwinner for his children — one an American citizen, the other an immigrant who is here legally.

He was dropped off that night in Matamoros, a violence-ridden Mexican border town. When he called his wife, Josefina Aguilar, from outside a bus station to tell her what happened, gunshots could be heard.

“I was just crying a lot, like my world was over,” Ms. Aguilar, 40, recalled.

Mr. Sandoval-Perez’s case — as described by him, his family and court documents — previews the difficulties President Obama will face in a review he ordered last week, asking the Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, to come up with a more “humane” deportation policy.

Like Mr. Sandoval-Perez, many immigrants here illegally might qualify for protection from deportation if strong ties to family and community and steady work records were taken into account, but they also have past immigration violations that could count heavily against them.

The review comes too late to help Mr. Sandoval-Perez. But his case was among dozens that immigrant advocates presented to the White House last Friday as an example of how Mr. Obama’s enforcement policies had torn apart generally law-abiding families, separating breadwinning parents from children who have known no other country but the United States.

“Josue is a perfect example of a case that they should have exercised prosecutorial discretion on,” said Richard Morales, the detention prevention coordinator at the PICO National Network, an organization of faith-based community groups. “We welcome the news from the president, but we need to see details.”

In an interview at an apartment that he shares with his sister-in-law in Mexico City, Mr. Sandoval-Perez was more pointed about what he wanted from Mr. Obama.

“He has the power to end this discrimination, to change this,” said Mr. Sandoval-Perez, holding a blue plastic folder with all his deportation documents. “Families have to stop being separated.”