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Immigration: Rep. Luis Gutierrez in South Carolina to block deportations

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Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is in Charleston, South Carolina to try to block the deportations of three residents who are examples--according to Gutierrez--of the type of illegal residents who should be allowed to stay in the U.S. under new Obama administration guidelines.

Gutierrez--who is pushing a national effort to reduce deportations--is taking up the cause of one Gabino Sanchez, going with him to meet with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Charlestown on Wednesday. Gutierrez is also trying to throw a spotlight on a new South Carolina law in effect next year that could lead to more deporatations.

From a Gutierrez statement: "Rep. Gutierrez went to South Carolina personally because Mr. Sanchez' case is precisely the type of case that should be administratively closed under new deportation guidelines that target serious criminals as a priority for deportation. After the meeting with ICE officials and the Congressman, Mr. Sanchez was released on his own recognizance and joined his family. To ensure that administrative closure is granted for Mr. Sanchez, Rep. Gutierrez made plans to follow-up with the ICE general counsel in Atlanta who can grant administrative closure to Mr. Sanchez at or before his March 13, 2012 court date.

"I came because successfully appealing for the closure of Mr. Sanchez' case shows people how to fight on other cases in South Carolina and nationally where deporting a father and working man is not in the best interest of our country," Rep. Gutierrez said after the meeting and before flying to Washington for congressional votes. "Cases like this show whether the Obama Administration is serious about using deportation as a tool to remove serious criminals and not as a tool to split up American families. It also shows the people of South Carolina how the federal law supersedes the new local immigration law they passed and just how you fight back against the fear of deportation."

More from Gutierrez: "South Carolina recently passed SB20, a stringent anti-immigrant law aimed at criminalizing illegal presence and making it more likely that contact with local police will result in deportation for immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Although the South Carolina law does not go into effect until January 2012, Mr. Sanchez's case is the type of minor traffic stop the South Carolina law is designed to lead to deportation once the law is implemented.

"You can fight back," Rep. Gutierrez said in reference to state laws like the one passed in South Carolina. "The federal law prioritizes deportation of serious criminals and takes precedence over state laws designed to turn a broken taillight into a deportable offense. But sometimes you have to push the federal government to apply the law the way it is supposed to be applied. You have to be prepared to say 'I have lived here for years; I came here as a child; here are the birth certificates of my U.S. citizen children; here are my tax returns and mortgage statements' in order to get authorities to recognize you as a low priority and move on to a higher priority like a real criminal."

"Today, Gutierrez also brought with him to his meeting with ICE officials information about two additional South Carolina residents who are facing deportation over minor traffic stops. Like Mr. Sanchez, they were both brought to the U.S. at a young age, grew up here, and have contributed to their communities and remained crime free and would likely have benefited had the U.S. Senate passed the federal DREAM Act last December (it having already passed in the House)."

More from Gutierrez release......

"One young man was being held on a federal $10,000 bond by ICE officials in another state and his family could not afford legal counsel or a bond. The young man, 19, had been living in the U.S. for at least six years and immediately after the Congressman's meeting with ICE authorities was being processed for release on his own recognizance without bond from detention in North Carolina.

"I talked to the ICE officials and asked 'What good does it do us to deport a young man who has grown up here?'" Rep. Gutierrez said. "They didn't close the case, but they waived his bond and said he would be released from custody, which happened almost immediately. That at least gives him and his family a chance to be together and the ability to prepare their case for a hearing."

"Rep. Gutierrez led the national effort to push the Obama Administration to reexamine their deportation policies in the wake of a record number, almost 400,000 people, deported by President Obama in the past year. This summer, ICE and the Department of Homeland Security announced new deportation prioritization guidelines that would ensure that a higher percentage of those 400,000 deportees would be serious criminals and not law-abiding immigrants with deep roots and family in the U.S. Fully implementing the new guidelines has been delayed and their application has been erratic, according to studies, but cases such as that of Mr. Sanchez, should result in their deportation cases being administratively closed under the guidelines.

"Mr. Sanchez was likely a target of racial profiling when he was stopped this month by local police who had set up a traffic stop outside a predominantly Hispanic mobile home community. Despite having no prior contact with immigration authorities, ICE placed a hold on him and initiated deportation proceedings. He was released five days after his arrest under an order of supervision and awaits his court date."

Background:

Gutierrez Statement on Record Setting U.S. Deportations (10/18/2011): http://bit.ly/LVG_101811
Gutierrez Immigration Page: http://bit.ly/LVG_Immigration
Gutierrez Bio: http://bit.ly/LVG_Bio

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on November 30, 2011 2:31 PM.

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