Low-Priority Immigrants Still Threatend by Deportation

After Thursday’s Supreme Court decision, The New York Times draws attention to the situation of many immigrants facing deportation; Including the case of Wildin Acosta who was arrested in an operation in late January. Deportation keeps threatening immigrant families across the US.
The arrests caused panic in immigrant communities in Durham. Teachers, lawmakers and community leaders mobilized to protest.

The arrests caused panic in immigrant communities in Durham. Teachers, lawmakers and community leaders mobilized to protest.

The Supreme Court on Thursday effectively ended initiatives by President Obama that would have given protection from deportation to more than four million immigrants in the country illegally, most of them parents of American citizens. Mr. Obama showed his frustration with the decision, saying his goal was to help immigrants who had raised families here and helped the country with their work. The president said immigrants who might have qualified for the programs would still be safe from deportation.

Last year, immigration authorities deported 235,413 people, according to official figures. Of those, 59 percent were convicted criminals, and 98 percent fit within the administration’s priorities, Department of Homeland Security officials said. The top priority includes foreigners who pose a threat to national or border security or to public safety. Other priorities are for people with serious criminal records, but they also include any migrant caught entering the country illegally after Jan. 1, 2014.

Mr. Acosta was among dozens of teenagers as well as mothers and smaller children from Central America who were arrested in an operation by immigration agents over one weekend in late January. Homeland Security Department officials said that because of his recent border crossing, Mr. Acosta was among the highest priorities for deportation.

The arrests caused panic in immigrant communities in Durham. Teachers, lawmakers and community leaders mobilized to protest. Mr. Acosta’s lawyer, Evelyn Smallwood, has forestalled his deportation but has not secured his release.

“He is a good kid, and he is doing everything he can to keep his sanity,” Smallwood said. “The administration has said it is as important to remove Wildin as it is to remove a drug trafficker or a terrorist.”

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“The administration is continuing to deport people who should not be a priority,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera. “They should do much more to prevent the unnecessary breakup of families.”

Some clearly are in the priority group. On Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it had arrested 45 foreigners who had been listed by Interpol as wanted for serious crimes, including three men from El Salvador sought in connection with gang killings. Immigration agents have conducted many roundups of drug traffickers and human smugglers.

At the same time, a 19-year-old migrant from Honduras, Wildin Acosta, was still being held in an immigration detention center in Lumpkin, Ga., five months after he was arrested when he was heading to high school in Durham, N.C.

In 2014, Mr. Acosta crossed the border illegally and turned himself in to border agents, asking for asylum. Since he was 17 at the time and traveling without his parents, he was held under special protections for unaccompanied minors. He was sent to live with his parents, who had settled years before in Durham.

He started going to high school, made friends who helped him learn English and joined a local soccer league. He presented a formal request for asylum in the United States, saying in legal papers that he fled Honduras after two close relatives were murdered.

But he missed a date in immigration court and a judge ordered him deported. Mr. Acosta also turned 19, making him too old, immigration officials said, to be given deference as a minor.

Mr. Acosta was among dozens of teenagers as well as mothers and smaller children from Central America who were arrested in an operation by immigration agents over one weekend in late January. Homeland Security Department officials said that because of his recent border crossing, Mr. Acosta was among the highest priorities for deportation.

The arrests caused panic in immigrant communities in Durham. Teachers, lawmakers and community leaders mobilized to protest. Mr. Acosta’s lawyer, Evelyn Smallwood, has forestalled his deportation but has not secured his release.

“He is a good kid, and he is doing everything he can to keep his sanity,” Smallwood said. “The administration has said it is as important to remove Wildin as it is to remove a drug trafficker or a terrorist.”

Source: www.nytimes.com [/read]

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