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Rep. Luis Gutierrez Challenges ICE to Use Its Discretion, Let South Carolina Father Stay

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sanchez familyThe Obama administration’s newest guidelines for prosecutorial discretion are seven months old—yet cases which should be dismissed are still coming up every day.  A couple of weeks ago we wrote about Daniela Palaez, the Florida valedictorian in danger of imminent deportation.  Today we’re writing about Gabino Sanchez, a 27-year-old father of two who has been in the US since he was 14.

Staunch immigration reform activist Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) traveled to North Carolina this week to help draw attention to Sanchez’ too-common story.  From the Charlotte Observer:  

Speaking to a rally outside Charlotte’s Immigration Court building, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez called on federal authorities Tuesday to drop the deportation case of a South Carolina father of two – both of them U.S. citizens – who has multiple misdemeanor convictions for driving without a license.

“This case should never have been brought forward,” the Illinois Democrat said to a mostly Latino crowd. “Getting rid … of gang members and drug dealers – we will assist you. But Gabino is the father of two American citizen children. He is not a criminal.”

Gabino is Gabino Sanchez, 27, a construction and landscape worker from rural Ridgeland, S.C., who stood next to the congressman with his wife and children. He arrived at the rally holding a handwritten sign that read “Who Would Jesus Support?” 

His supporters held signs that read “Stop the Deportations/Keep Our Families Together” and “Born in the USA!!! Don’t take my Daddy away!!” 

In such a story, it is often the US-born, US-citizen children dependent on their immigrant parents who pay the heaviest price.  Last month, the Applied Research Center released a report revealing that 5,100 children currently live in foster care because their parents have been deported—and 15,000 more may face a similar fate in the next five years.  As the Charlotte Observer story continues:

In the first six months of 2011, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported more than 46,000 immigrants who have children who are U.S. citizens because they were born here.

To help Charlotte-area families in such straits, the local Latin American Coalition plans to soon launch a Family Preservation Commission, Executive Director Jess George told the rally.

She later said the commission will include business and political leaders as well as representatives from social service agencies and faith-based groups – all of whom “can attest to the devastating consequences of tearing apart American families due to a broken immigration system.”

The biggest victims, she said, are U.S.-born children forced into foster care because their undocumented immigrant parents are either detained or deported.

“They (children) come home and their parents are already in deportation proceedings,” George said.

Again, these are people who aren’t even supposed to be deported under current prosecutorial discretion guidelines.  Some slow response time can be expected from a bureaucracy like ICE.  But it’s been seven months, and families are being split apart.