Deporting family members

I attended a forum today on US immigration policy which included several personal narratives of the effect on families when US authorities seize a family member and deport him or her. US immigration laws are very mechanical -- compassion and appeals to a sense of fairness are not legal arguments to be allowed to remain in the country. It's a situation which many Salvadoran families with relatives working in the US have to face often.

The forum reminded me of the importance to listen to the stories of immigrants and not just focus on numbers and statistics about the flow of persons across borders. In one such story, published this week on the New America Media website, called How is Deporting My Brother a Solution to Gang Violence?, the son of Salvadoran migrants describes the impact of having his gang member brother deported back to El Salvador:
OAKLAND – Today, my step-brother Frank, 23, was deported back to El Salvador. The thing I remember most about him is seeing him laugh. He would laugh about everything, then hide his face to drown his loud mischievous laugh. Frank is about eight years older then me, but I have always been a little bit better at video games. We could play for hours, Frank and my brothers Carlos and Irvin and I.

Frank was deported after being arrested and incarcerated for armed robbery. He had shot someone, but luckily did not kill him. I was in disbelief when it happened, all I could say was: "Frank isn't that stupid." Meaning I knew he was sort of dumb, for joining a gang, carrying a gun, taking pills and drinking, but I never thought he would actually hurt someone.

Many people like to say that their relatives are innocent and that they are good people inside, well, I won't bore you with the same story. Instead, I will tell you that my brother is guilty. He was affiliated with gangs and deserves time away from society, but he was paying for his time by being locked up. His incarceration really seemed to change him for the better. But, in sending him back to El Salvador, I worry that he'll have to resort back to gang life to survive because he won't have any family or support system.

Read the rest of the story here.


El-Visitador said…
Does the US deport felon non-citizens before felons have completed their sentences, or after?

Are Salvadoreans everywhere aware that we in El Salvador deny the right of residence to foreigners who are convicted felons?
Anonymous said…
Frank broke the law plain and simple. Does he deserve to be deported? yes he does. Why should my tax paying dollars support him? So many immigrants would kill for the chance to come to this country and live here and he swindled it away.

I lay this on Franks parents. I dont care what people say, it is bad parenting that leads to this and both countries pay the price. I also grew up in the barrio in Texas, had friends who had committed some bad crimes and were involved in trafficking. How did I manage? My parents. I was friends with them, but that was as far as it went. My parents didnt raise a dumb ass fool.

Until El Salvador starts pointing the finger st these parents who make it easy for them to leave their children behind and neglect that the stat does not have the responsibility to raise them for them, this will continue.
Anonymous said…
Let me get this right. Frank illegally entered the U.S., was involved in gangs, and during a robbery shot someone. And you're using this guy as the poster child for unfair deportations. Can you actually name any country in the world where he would now be offered citizenship?
Well the writer never explicitly stated whether his brother was undocumented or not. Laws passed in the 1980s and 1990s (in particular the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act) expanded the list of deportable crimes (aggravated offenses and minor offenses). More importantly, these laws make it so that ALL non-citizens (including legal permanent residents) are deportable if they commit one of the crimes on this list.
Anonymous said…
He needs to stay for "his family support system"? I'd say his "support system" SUCKED if it allowed him to DO all those things.

America can be a great place. If you want to live here, you should obey the laws. I wish Russia would give us part of Siberia to send our prisoners to. If you can't be a decent human being, you don't deserve to live in a nice place.