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Moms Facing Deportation Ask for a Mother's Day Reprieve PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia, Sun Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 10 May 2012 02:24

ALEX GARCIA/SFVS

Maria Leonor takes care of her son, Israel, 13, who has cerebral palsy. The Mexican national has a deportation order after her application for adjustment status was denied by immigration authorities based on a previous detention trying to cross the border illegally.

Two mothers facing separation from their US-born children pleaded with immigration authorities this week to grant them a Mother's Day wish and stop their deportation.

"I just hope they give me an opportunity to reopen my case because I've never had the chance to fight for my case," said Carmen, a 44-year-old Peruvian living in San Bernardino, and mother of Brian, 14 and Angelo, 9, who has been ordered to leave the country by June 1.

Maria is also facing a deportation.

The mother of four, including 13-year-old son Israel who suffers from cerebral palsy and needs 24-hour care, was detained while crossing the border in 1997. She was held at an immigration jail for two years and, upon her release, crossed the border illegally.

Both women asked that their last names not be used.

Carmen came to the United States 22 years ago. Like others, she was a victim of a notario, who applied under an immigration process she was not entitled to. Her application was denied and she was issued a deportation order.

In January 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents showed up at Carmen's home and she ran to hide at a neighbor's house. She was detained and spent eight months under immigration incarceration.

She was only released after experiencing high levels of anemia that put her health at risk.

She was let go with an ankle monitor and now has been order to leave by June 1.

"I'm sorry for what I did. I did it because I was afraid," said the woman, flanked by her two sons.

"I want them (Immigration) to give her a chance. When ICE came to her house she was afraid. Over there (Peru), we don't have anything," said older son, Brian.

In 2001, Maria, who lives in Los Angeles married a U.S. permanent resident. But due to her previous detention, her permanent residency application was denied in 2010. Since then, she also has a deportation order.

Jessica Dominguez, an immigration attorney who represents both women, said they are not criminals and should qualify under the new immigration directives issued in 2010 where ICE said it was committed to prosecuting those immigrants who posed a threat to the country.

"Tell me, how do these women pose a threat to the country?" said Dominguez, who is asking authorities to grant both women the chance to reopen their case.

Like these women, thousands of others are hoping for a Mother's Day miracle amidst immigration uncertainty.

According to an ICE report released in March, 46,486 parents of US-born citizens were deported from the United States during the first half of 2011. In contrast, the New York Times reports that in the decade between 1998 and 2007, nearly 100,000 such parents were deported. An estimated four million US-born children have a least one parent who is an unauthorized immigrant.

In a 2006 report to Congress, ICE clarified that "our priority mission — and our greatest challenge — is to prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States," adding that "the mission of ICE is to protect America and uphold public safety by targeting the people, money and materials that support terrorist and criminal activities."

In August of 2011, ICE Director John Morton and the White House announced deportation prioritization guidelines (Prosecutorial Discretion or PD) to apply when ICE rules on a case. "Thus far, ICE has complied miserably with the guidelines and out of a possible 53,000 reviews being conducted in Los Angeles alone, fewer than 220 people have received PD," according to the Coalition for Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

A statement from ICE said the agency does everything possible to screen cases on individual basis.

"As outlined in the agency's June 2010 Civil Enforcement Priorities memo, ICE will typically not detain individuals who are the primary caretakers of children, unless the individual is legally subjected to mandatory detention based on the severity of their criminal or immigration history," the statement said.

"ICE uses prosecutorial discretion to release individuals in ICE custody for humanitarian reasons such as being the sole caregiver of minors and when we are aware that the detention of a non-criminal alien would result in any child (U.S. citizen or not) being left without a appropriate parental caregiver. ICE takes great care to evaluate cases that warrant humanitarian release.

"For parents who are ordered removed, it is their decision whether or not to relocate their children with them. If parents choose to take their U.S. citizen children with them, ICE assists in every way possible including helping to obtain passports or when possible, allow for voluntary departure."

Legislators Get Earful From Mothers

On Thursday, May 10, the day much of Latin America honors mothers, CHIRLA delivered a strong Mother's Day message to state politicians.

Moms and domestic worker delegations visited several legislators' offices in Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco to support the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. The proposal would guarantee work breaks and overtime pay for those workers.

"California's approximately 200,000 domestic workers do the work that makes other work possible and ensure a thriving economy. They perform the fundamental duties of the home, including childcare, house cleaning and cooking, as well as caring for people with disabilities, the sick and the elderly. More often than not, domestic workers are women, minorities, and immigrants," CHIRLA said, in a statement.

At each office, domestic workers carried flowers and balloons and pushed toy baby strollers with baby inside for delivery of a (italics) Cuéntame (italics end) video, which honors the legacy of domestic work and invites public support of the California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights still being discussed in the state legislature.

Hermandad Mexicana de Panorama City, an agency that helps with immigration processes and also advocates in favor of undocumented immigrants, is offering free fill out of citizen applications for all mothers during the entire month of May. This Saturday, May 12, the agency will have a free session with representatives from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (USCIS) who will respond all questions regarding the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.

Hermandad Mexicana is located at 7915 Van Nuys Blvd., in Panorama City. For more details, call (818) 989-3019.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 10 May 2012 02:33