Deporting Grandpa and Continuing Atrocities

Felipe Ortega, grandfather of eight U.S. citizens, was deported on Inauguration Day. After 30 years in the United States, he was picked up by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the day before on a 15-year-old deportation warrant. After being held overnight in jail, he was put in chains, and hauled to the international bridge in El Paso to leave the country, with no hope of return. He left behind his wife, three adult children, eight grandchildren, his home, and his construction business. 

Ortega told Reuters, “I think that what they wanted was to kick me out before Biden signed what he signed.” 


But ICE is continuing full steam ahead with deportations, despite President Biden’s order for a 100-day moratorium on deportations. A Texas federal judge, appointed by Trump, has put a hold on that order. 

Biden also ordered a change in priorities, saying that ICE enforcement should focus on people who are a danger to the community or country. ICE is ignoring that, too.

Rosa was arrested after a January 27 traffic stop, based on two traffic tickets from 2015. ICE deported her two days later.

Rosa survived the 2019 El Paso Walmart shooting. That shooting, which killed 22 people, was a hate crime targeting “Mexicans.”

Despite Rosa’s fear of deportation, she voluntarily helped police and the El Paso District Attorney by giving evidence in that case. She is listed as a witness in the upcoming trial of the shooter. The El Paso District Attorney’s office gave her a certification that she was a crime victim who had helped in the investigation of the shooting. That alone should qualify her for a visa. 

But no. ICE deported her, back to a city she doesn’t even know.

“’I have my whole life [in El Paso]. I got there when I was little — I don’t remember anything about Juarez,’ Rosa, who said she grew up in El Paso and attended high school there, told KTSM in an interview.”

On February 1, ICE deported 102 Haitians, including 17 young children. The Biden administration has not reversed the Trump order that uses public health laws as a pretext for immediate deportation of anyone taken into custody for crossing the border. That order is as bogus as they come:

“We were forced to do it,” one former official who worked on public health told CBS News. “We exhausted all of the options. We delayed. We slow-rolled. We flat out said there’s not a public health justification. We said no. And then we were told, ‘Do it.’ So, at the end of the day, your options are to resign in protest or sign it. And if you resign in protest, the next person is just going to do it anyways.”

ICE also is set to deport 23 Africans on February 2. This deportation is in direct defiance of Biden administration orders

“[T]he expected African flight defies … guidelines laid down by the acting homeland security secretary, David Pekoske, that came into effect on Monday. Pekoske called for deportations to be limited to suspected terrorists, convicted felons deemed a threat to public security, and undocumented people caught on the border after 1 November.”

Seven of the African detainees scheduled for deportation are Cameroonian, and may face the same fate—jail or disappearance—suffered by other Cameroonians deported in November.

The deportations of Haitians and Africans on the first days of Black History Month is especially cruel, says Patrice Lawrence, co-director of UndocuBlack Network

“The audacity to practice such cruelty on the first day of Black History Month, exemplifies the anti-Black sentiment that has always existed within the ranks of ICE officials.  ICE jumped at the opportunity to deport Black immigrants to the Carribean, Central America and Sub-Saharan countries almost immediately after the issuance of the unjust, baseless, and legally unsound TRO on the 100-Day Deportation Moratorium. We know that at the top of the list, individuals from Cameroon, Mauritania, Angola, Congo, Haiti and Jamaica are immediately at risk. 

“However, what is unnerving is the deafening silence emanating from the White House. As the rogue agencies under DHS continue to defy the mandate of the new administration, the Biden-Harris Administration remains silent. As we wake up in fear of the fate of members of our communities every morning, the Biden-Harris Administration remains silent.  As we shudder at the thought that it could be any of us on those dark, early morning flights, bound for harm’s way, the Biden-Harris Administration remains silent.” 

You can call the White House and ask that they speak and act to stop these deportations. They must rescind the phony public health deportation policy. They also can extend Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure to nationals of countries such as Mauritania, and Cameroon, where deportees face significant risk of persecution or death. 

To reach the White House, call 202-456-1111 or send an email using this contact form

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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2 Responses to Deporting Grandpa and Continuing Atrocities

  1. Betty Tisel says:

    Hi Mary! Thanks for your work. Did you see the NYT article about ICE, the whistleblower, etc? Link:


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