Ripping apart a family and other immigration news – June 1, 2017

judge's gavel weissparz

A federal judge wrote a strong concurring opinion, saying that the Hawaii federal district court had no choice but to allow the immediate deportation of a man of good moral character who has lived and built a business in this country for 28 years, since he was 15 years old. He and his U.S. citizen wife have raised three U.S. citizen children.  Now he is being deported, and will not be allowed to return for ten years.

“All Magana Ortiz asked for in requesting a stay was to remain in this country, his home of almost three decades, while pursuing such routes to legal status. It was fully within the government’s power to once more grant his reasonable request. Instead, it has ordered him deported immediately.

“In doing so, the government forces us to participate in ripping apart a family.”

J. Reinhardt: “The government forces us to participate in ripping apart a family” (Immigration Prof blog, 5/30/17)

‘Even the good hombres are not safe:” Federal judge slams Trump deportations (Los Angeles Times, 5/30/17)

The opinion, in full: 

“We are compelled to deny Mr. Magana Ortiz’s request for a stay of removal because we do not have the authority to grant it. We are not, however, compelled to find the government’s action in this case fair or just.

“The government’s insistence on expelling a good man from the country in which he has lived for the past 28 years deprives his children of their right to be with their father, his wife of her right to be with her husband, and our country of a productive and responsible member of our community. Magana Ortiz, who first entered the United States at 15, is now 43 years old, and during his almost three decades here has raised a family and built a successful life. All of his children, ages 12, 14, and 20, were born in this country and are American citizens, as is his wife.  His eldest daughter currently attends the University of Hawaii, and he is paying for her education.

“Since coming to the United States, Magana Ortiz has become a respected businessman in Hawaii and well established in the coffee farming industry. He has worked with the United States Department of Agriculture in researching the pests afflicting Hawaii’s coffee crop, and agreed to let the government use his farm, without charge, to conduct a five-year study. In his time in this country Magana Ortiz has built a house, started his own company, and paid his taxes. Although he apparently has two convictions for driving under the influence, the latest of them occurred fourteen years ago, and he has no history of any other crimes. Indeed, even the government conceded during the immigration proceedings that there was no question as to Magana Ortiz’s good moral character.

“After his immigration case concluded with a decision to remove Magana Ortiz because of his 1989 illegal entry into the United States, he filed for a stay of removal in September 2014. That stay was granted, allowing him to remain with his family and pursue available routes to legal status. On November 2, 2016, Magana Ortiz filed for an additional stay of removal. Without any explanation, the government on March 21, 2017 reversed its position, and ordered him to report for removal the next month. A subsequent application for a stay was similarly denied, and on May 10, 2017, Magana Ortiz went to the district court, where he filed an emergency request for a stay of removal for a period of nine months. That request was denied, and on May 17, 2017, he appealed to this court to intervene.

“Magana Ortiz now asks us to stay his imminent removal. Because we are without authority to do so, he will be returned to Mexico, after having spent 28 years successfully building a life and family in this country. He will also be subject to a ten-year bar against his return, likely forcing him to spend a decade deprived of his wife, children, and community.

“This was not the necessary result. Magana Ortiz is currently attempting to obtain legal status on the basis of his wife’s and children’s citizenship, a process that is well underway. It has been over a year since his wife, Brenda, submitted her application to have Magana Ortiz deemed her immediate relative. This August, his eldest daughter, Victoria, will turn 21, and will also be able to file an application for her father. All Magana Ortiz asked for in requesting a stay was to remain in this country, his home of almost three decades, while pursuing such routes to legal status. It was fully within the government’s power to once more grant his reasonable request. Instead, it has ordered him deported immediately.

“In doing so, the government forces us to participate in ripping apart a family. Three United States citizen children will now have to choose between their father and their country. If they leave their homeland with their father, the children would be forced to move to a nation with which they have no connection. All three children were born in the United States; none has ever lived in Mexico or learned Spanish. Moving with their father would uproot their lives, interrupt their educations, and deprive them of the opportunities afforded by growing up in this country. If they remain in the United States, however, the children would not only lose a parent, but might also be deprived of their home, their opportunity for higher education, and their financial support.  Subjecting vulnerable children to a choice between expulsion to a foreign land or losing the care and support of their father is not how this nation should treat its citizens.

President Trump has claimed that his immigration policies would target the “bad hombres.” The government’s decision to remove Magana Ortiz shows that even the “good hombres” are not safe. Magana Ortiz is by all accounts a pillar of his community and a devoted father and husband. It is difficult to see how the government’s decision to expel him is consistent with the President’s promise of an immigration system with “a lot of heart.” I find no such compassion in the government’s choice to deport Magana Ortiz.”

ICE officials eat breakfast, compliment chef, then arrest 3 workers at Michigan restaurant (Chicago Tribune, 5/30/17)

“ICE spokeswoman Rachael Yong Yow said in a statement the agency uses various techniques during enforcement but couldn’t comment on whether agents ate at the restaurant.”

Texas immigration lockdowns holding some families too long (AP via WRCB TV, 5/31/17) Hakimi attempted suicide. Her family is one of many held long beyond the three days permitted for detention of children.

“Afghan asylum seeker Samira Hakimi and her family members – three of them young children – have spent six months inside a Texas immigration lockdown, even though state lawmakers adjourned this week without passing legislation to circumvent federal rules on housing minors at such facilities….

“[Amy Fischer, policy director of Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services], who knows at least seven families who have been detained beyond the 20-day mark this year in Karnes, said they were “not given a reason” when the federal government denied paroles, and that they had come from a variety of countries.”

Undocumented grandmother finds sanctuary in North Carolina church (Charlotte Observer, 5/31/17) She is married to a U.S. citizen, has two U.S. citizen children and two who have DACA status.

“Juana Ortega, 38, came to the United States in 1993 from Guatemala seeking asylum, but her attempts to gain asylum ultimately failed. Undocumented, she has been checking in regularly with Immigration and Customs Enforcement since 2011. ICE continually renewed a stay on her removal order allowing her to remain in the United States.

“Last month, Ortega had her first check-in with ICE under the Trump administration. She found out her stay would not be extended, was outfitted with an ankle monitor and told she had until May 31 to the leave the country.”

In a first for Mass., undocumented immigrant seeks sanctuary in Cambridge church (Boston Globe, 5/31/17)

“A woman fleeing US immigration authorities has taken refuge in a Cambridge church with her two children, making them the first family in Massachusetts known to publicly seek “sanctuary” in a house of worship since religious communities started opening their doors to undocumented immigrants in recent months.”

Cambridge Church Protests Undocumented Immigrant From Deportation (CBS Boston, 5/31/17)

Immigration arrests up in Iowa, Midwest (Iowa Public Radio, 5/31/17) Estela and her three-year-old sister are U.S. citizens. Their parents are undocumented.

“One morning on her way to school in Des Moines last month, 15-year-old Estela got a call from her mother. Her father had been arrested while going to work at a construction company.

“My dad was walking towards the office when the cars came in and told him to stop and pointed his guns at him.” …

“What if I lost both of my parents? Maybe I would live with my aunt…” Estela says. “It’s difficult.”

Woman thought headed for Canada found dead in Minnesota (AP via Detroit News, 5/31/17) The woman, who had been living in Delaware, may have been trying to reunite with her daughter in Canada. She is likely one of thousands of asylum seekers leaving the United States for Canada since Trump took office.

“The body of 57-year-old Mavis Otuteye, who authorities believe was a citizen of Ghana in western Africa, was found Friday in a field a half-mile from the Canadian border near the tiny town of Noyes, according to the Kittson County Sheriff’s Office….

“Final autopsy results are pending, but Vig said the preliminary results indicate she died of hypothermia. The officer said part of her body was in a shallow pool of water in a drainage ditch.

“The temperatures that night were in the 40s,” Vig told the Grand Forks, North Dakota, television station. “Just tough weather for her to make that journey.”

OPINION: Every immigrant deserves a lawyer (New York Daily News, 5/31/17) A former immigration judge writes:

“Far and away, the greatest obstacle to administering justice in immigration proceedings is the fact that, unlike in criminal proceedings, people have no right to an attorney.

“Which means that every year, across the country, thousands of immigrants — most of whom are hard-working, taxpaying, contributing members of society — face the prospect a lifetime of exile from their homes, families and livelihoods in the United States without the aid of counsel.

“It is hard to overstate what an obstacle that lack of representation can be for those immigrants. The Department of Homeland Security, the agency representing the government, has attorneys prosecuting every immigration case — which is why they win, almost every time, when the immigrant has no lawyer.”

Republicans look to fulfill Trump’s vow on ‘Kate’s Law’ (The Hill, 5/31/17)

“Republicans are working on legislation to impose a mandatory five-year minimum prison sentence for immigrants who have twice been charged with illegally re-entering the country or have prior aggravated felony convictions. …

“In addition to Kate’s Law, the larger border security bill includes provisions to add 10,000 detention beds each year for the next four years, increase the number of border patrol agents from 21,000 to 26,370 and require U.S. attorneys to prosecute people who are caught within 100 miles of crossing the southern border.”

OPINION: Ice agents are out of control. And they are only getting worse. (The Guardian, 5/31/17)

“… arrests of non-violent immigrants with no criminal record whatsoever has exploded, more than doubling from 4,242 people to 10,845 over the same period from 2016 to 2017.”

Immigrant rights activists worry that green card holders, U.S. citizens could also be targeted under Trump (The Press-Enterprise, 5/31/17)

“Immigrant rights activists worry that President Donald Trump’s hard stance against illegal immigration could increasingly threaten the rights of legal permanent residents and even United States citizens.

“Days after a San Bernardino woman said she was detained by immigration authorities for deportation despite being an American citizen, organizers are urging undocumented immigrants, lawful permanent residents, and U.S. citizens to carry any form of identification at all times and to assert their rights if confronted by immigration authorities.”

Workers detained by ICE on military base denied hearing (Mercury News, 5/31/17) The two men were slated to start work on a construction project, but were arrested when their Social Security numbers did not check out. Both have lived in the United States for more than 10 years.

“ICE officials have placed both men in expedited deportation proceedings without a court hearing — known formally as “reinstatement” — because they each have old removal orders issued more than a decade ago after border agents caught them attempting to illegally cross the border. Neither of them has criminal records, according to their attorney.”

Immigration crackdown hurting U.S. economy, Federal Reserve official says (Arizona Republic, 5/31/17)

“President Trump’s immigration crackdown is already crimping economic growth as undocumented workers fearful of deportation stay home and reduce their spending, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said Wednesday.”


About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet,, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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