In recent years, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) has elevated their efforts to deport as many undocumented immigrants as possible.This agency of the federal government has been able to do so by switching their tactics. Moving away from the most common work place raids of previous years, people are now being funneled through the criminal justice system. This has empowered local police and sheriff’s departments to focus their energy on identifying and detaining undocumented people.
Take Francisco’s case for example. On February 2012, he was stopped by a police officer and asked to show his driver’s license as proof of identification. The officer arrested Francisco after he was unable to provide a “proper” identification or proof of car insurance. He is now in deportation proceedings. Despite being low priority under the Morton memo, Francisco has become a high priority for us. As someone who is undocumented, I understand the risk we take when we drive to get around in order to complete everyday errands. Or in my case a college student trying to make my way to campus everyday. Ironically, when I see a police officer driving along side me I don’t feel safe, but vulnerable to having a similar scenario like that of Francisco’s.
Francisco is originally from Guatemala and came to the Unites States in 2007. Francisco like many immigrants who arrive here, look to seek opportunities that will position them where they hope their struggle will only be a memory and no longer their day to day reality. He has been living in Florida for five years and has built his life in this country. Returning back to Guatemala is no option for Francisco, as his county is currently overwhelm with violence.
According to the memo issued by Jon Morton, Francisco’s case is considered a low priority and should be granted favorable prosecutorial discretion. If deported, Francisco will be separated from his friends and community in Florida.
This is just one example of hundreds if not thousands of cases wherein minor traffic violations cause individuals to experience the nightmare of being inside detention centers. Francisco’s life does not have to be uncertain, we as a community can help Francisco and the many who are in similar situations. People should not be treated as less than human simply for trying to make a living and when they contribute to the vital life of a nation built on immigration.