Dear Donald –
I want to talk about Guadalupe.
I’m not sure if you know who she is. To be honest, not many people did before last week. She’s lived and worked in this country for the last two decades. She’s raised her childrren here. Since 2008, when she was arrested during an illegal raid, she’s faithfully gone to her local Immigrations and Customs Enforcement office every few weeks to check on the status of her case. Until yesterday, when she was deported.
You see, Guadalupe came to this country illegally in 1996, when she was only 15 – a few months too old to qualify for protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Under the Obama Administration, she was a low priority undocumented immigrant. She had no criminal record before 2008, and her crime then, uncovered after an unconstitutional raid by Joe Arpaio, was using falsified documents to obtain employment. She pled guilty to the crime, and unfailingly checked in with ICE. She wasn’t trying to hide. She was following the rules. She has two children – 14 and 16 – who are both American citizens.
A few weeks ago, you changed the rules of the game. Your executive order turned the priority list for deportations upside down, making everyone who had committed a crime, been charged with a crime, or could be charged with a crime eligible for immediate deportation. Since all undocumented immigrants could, in heirs, be charged with a crime, they all became immediately eligible for deportation.
Friends and family told Guadalupe not to go to her normal check-in at the ICE office. They told her to go into hiding. Guadalupe refused, and went in like she always did. She was put in handcuffs and locked up.
While her son and daughter are attending a school every day that pledges allegiance to the flag , Guadalupe is getting sent back to a country she hasn’t known in more than 20 years.
This is what the deportation force looks like. It doesn’t come with tanks rolling down the street. It doesn’t come with jack boots. It comes quietly and puts a taxpaying mother of two on a plane, leaving her children behind.
Guadalupe is what America’s immigration system looks like. She is the face of this problem. She deserves better. We all do.