This story demonstrates so many reasons why comprehensive immigration reform is urgently needed. This injured veterans wife was brought here as a young child. She has been here 15 years. During their endeavor to legalize her status, it was uncovered that she had deportation orders against her due to her fathers attempt to adjust the entire families status.
Jack Barrios, 25, knows a thing or two about war. He is an Iraq war veteran, who suffered brain damage and back and joint injuries while defending his homeland. At home in Los Angeles with his wife and two small children, Barrios is now on the front lines of a new battle.
His wife, who didn’t want her name to be revealed, emigrated from Guatemala, and has lived in the United States for 15 years. When the couple sought to legalize her status, they learned she had an outstanding deportation order from a court in Nebraska – where she never lived. Her father once applied for asylum when she was a minor and included her name on the application. Her name remained on the record after her father moved to Nebraska. Said Jack Barrios: “It’s not right that those of us who serve our country can get separated from our families when we come home.
Federal law enforcement and counter-terrorism efforts have been bogged down in the attrition war. In 2003, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau launched an aggressive campaign to root out fugitive aliens who could be a threat to national security and community safety. Agents were to go after the worst of the worst – transnational street gangsters, child sex offenders, and aliens with prior convictions for violent crimes.
But in 2006, agency put ordinary immigrants in its crosshairs. That’s when officials jacked up each SWAT team’s annual arrest quota from 125 to 1,000, and dropped its initial directive that 75 percent of those arrested had to be guilty of something other than a routine immigration violation.
Yet, that’s exactly who the scattershot raids of homes and workplaces have netted — ordinary people whose only misdeed was to have entered or remained in the United States illegally. In the program’s five years, nearly three-quarters of the nearly 97,000 immigrants arrested had no criminal records. Fully 40 percent of those arrested in 2007 didn’t even have outstanding deportation orders. Meanwhile, the budget for the operations rocketed from $9 million to $218 million in five years, faster than that of any other Department of Homeland Security immigration enforcement program.
Immigration hawks dragged the Department of Justice (DoJ) into the enforcement war, too. DoJ’s prosecutions of petty immigration violations doubled from 2000 to 2007 and then doubled again in 2008 to more than 70,000 cases, taking money and manpower away from tracking down dangerous felons like weapons smugglers, organized crime syndicates and drug kingpins.
The Obama administration has moved to reverse upside-down enforcement priorities. In a joint White House press conference recently, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and other top officials unveiled plans to redeploy hundreds of ICE, Border Patrol, and other federal agents to the border. Officials said the move was part of a “comprehensive strategy” for border security. “We are suspending other small-scale stuff,” said one Homeland Security official. “We are focusing our priorities.”