We are in the thick of a national debate about immigration. Most people on both sides of the dispute think our borders should be secure. I will take border security to be an uncontroversial topic of this debate. The most contentious issue has to with immigrants who were brought to the US as children.
Entrenched ideologies and unchecked emotions rule the debate. Immigrants are treated as faceless abstractions as a result of this intransigence. This blog series seeks to humanize immigrants and offer facts that are relevant to the discussion.
Jorge Garcia was brought to US in 1989 when he was only ten years old. Garcia married his wife Cindy in 2002. Garcia was ordered to leave the US in June of 2006. Garcia was not an immigrant who was hiding in the shadows. He filed an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals in 2008. The case was sent to the lower courts and Garcia was allowed to voluntarily deport. ICE didn’t forget about Garcia’s case. Garcia secured attorneys in an effort to become a legal resident. ICE decided to exercise prosecutorial discretion in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
ICE decided against deporting Garcia, meanwhile his American roots grew deeper. Garcia has two children. His family photo is at the top of this bolg. Unfortunately, ICE decided to deport Garcia this year. Garcia’s family is now geographically fragmented.
I don’t see the moral rationale for Garcia’s deportation. This case is all the more morally dubious when we learn that Garcia’s deportation proceedings were triggered by his attempt to get legal status in 2005. Cindy Garcia said her husband checked in with ICE officials on a regular basis.
Garcia’s case is not unique. Deportations like these increased under Donald Trump.
Garcia’s story now has a national profile. What about those lesser known cases of deportation with similar circumstances?
Human Rights Watch published a 109-page report, “The Deported: Immigrants Uprooted from the Country They Call Home,” on its website on December 5, 2017. In it, they detail the lives of many immigrants who were deported. Here is a sample of the people featured in the report:
• Linda C., a 29-year-old mother of three US citizen children who came to the US when she was 4 years old, deported after a traffic stop;
• Manuel G., a father with US citizen children and a local leader in Alcoholics Anonymous, deported after 29 years in the US after he was stopped by police for making a wide U-turn;
• Sergio H., a US military veteran, lawful permanent resident, and owner of an auto body shop, deported after convictions related to drug dependency
How should we adjudicate these cases? What moral principles govern these complex cases? We will answer these questions in subsequent posts.