Monday, July 24, 2017

A Deportation at M.I.T., and New Risks for the Undocumented

Immigration is one area where the President can deliver, to a substantial extent, on his incendiary words, without Congress. …And the more Trump fails at other parts of his agenda, and the more he doubles down on a strategy of pleasing his core supporters, the more unconscionable cases, like that of Francisco Rodriguez, there will be.

By Steve Coll, New Yorker
July 20, 2017
On Tuesday, the Boston Globe published a letter from Francisco Rodriguez, who had written it from a jail in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, where he has been held for the past week. Rodriguez, who is forty-three, has lived in this country for a decade. For the past five years, he has worked as a custodian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he belongs to a labor union. He pays taxes and runs a carpet-cleaning business on the side. He is married, with two children, and his wife is pregnant with a third. Prior to his current incarceration, he wrote, he had never been arrested for any crime.

Rodriguez is from El Salvador, where he worked at an engineering firm, but he left the country in 2006, fearing for his life, after gangsters murdered one of his colleagues. He reached Boston without documentation and applied for asylum but was denied. His appeals ended in 2011, and he became subject to deportation. Each year since, however, officials at the Department of Homeland Security have granted him a stay against removal, after he has met with them to insure that he has remained a resident in good standing. This spring, however, following the election of Donald Trump, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who are part of D.H.S., sent a different message: Rodriguez needed to buy himself a ticket to El Salvador and volunteer to surrender for deportation. An invitation that had been a routine check-in in previous years suddenly became an order to leave the country. “I was told that if I did what ice said, I would not have to be in jail,” Rodriguez wrote in his letter. “I believed them. I came when they told me and did what they said, but they took me. I do not understand why I am here.”[...]

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