breaking news

Woman arrested in Gardens Petco dognapping

Editorial: Fear, not fairness result of harsh deportation policy


We all saw this coming. The collateral damage from President Donald J. Trump’s stepped up detentions and deportations of undocumented immigrants. The moral buzz saw that it has revved up for local governments.

Stories abound these days of families from Riverside, California, to Riviera Beach being torn apart as loved ones are suddenly rounded up and detained as they wait to be deported. The vast majority of these “criminals” are grabbed for traffic infractions as minor as a parking ticket; or even more ironically, when properly checking in with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

We understand the administration’s zeal to push back the criminal element that also makes its way into our country illegally. But these draconian measures, as evidenced by Palm Beach County’s own most recent experiences with detaining and deporting non-threatening immigrants, need to be re-thought and re-prioritized.

It is a prickly question, to be sure. The fact is that if you enter this country illegally, you break the law. That might make the issue of deportation simple for some — especially immigration hardliners. But as we’ve always known, this issue is far from simple. It can’t be, when many of those being deported are otherwise law-abiding, business-building, family-oriented and even church-going folks.

Folks like Gloriana Gonzalez and Milton Perez Gabriel, who ended up in ICE custody after being detained in Riviera Beach.

RELATED: Non-criminal immigrants increasingly caught in deportation dragnet

In May, Riviera Beach Police responded to a woman who said that her clothes had been stolen from a laundromat. When police arrived, they noticed the woman had a boyfriend, Perez. He was asked about his citizenship and found to be an undocumented Guatemalan laborer with no criminal history. Police called ICE and he was locked up.

Earlier this month, Gonzalez was involved in a fender bender. Police arrived at the scene to discover that Gonzalez, a 43-year-old Venezuelan woman who has a master’s degree, has been living in America — crime-free — after her visa expired. Again, Riviera Beach Police called ICE, who locked Gonzalez in a detention center in Pompano Beach, putting her on a path to deportation.

Even checking in with ICE, as required, is no protection for immigrants with no criminal record.

Victor Chavez and his wife, Matias Carillo, were both issued orders of deportation when they attempted to have their annual work permit issued in March. The Jupiter business owners have a 13-year-old U.S.-born son. A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, whose district covers northern Palm Beach County, said the congressman is looking into their case.

And Francisco Javier Gonzalez, the manager of the Pizza Al Fresco restaurant on Palm Beach’s Worth Avenue, was given an 11th-hour reprieve from possible deportation on July 14, a day before he was scheduled to check in with ICE in Broward County. The Mexican-born Gonzalez has a U.S. citizen spouse and three U.S.-born daughters. His reprieve lasts for three months.

RELATED: Restaurant manager thanks backers after deportation reprieve

To be sure, there are some bad actors. These are the “criminals” who the Obama administration chose to focus on for deportation — managing to send back more undocumented immigrants than any other previous administration.

But the current administration chooses to invoke national security as a pretext for xenophobia, essentially painting Gonzalez, Carillo and Chavez with the same broad brush used for violent criminal gangs like MS-13 and Barrio 18. As part of this effort, it has sought to conscript our local authorities by threatening to remove funding for so-called “sanctuary cities” that don’t aid the federal government in hunting down and arresting undocumented residents.

It would nice if local law enforcement decided their resources are best used to aid their residents rather than a harsh deportation policy. That they won’t call ICE if they encounter an immigrant here illegally who seems non-threatening and doesn’t have a criminal record.

After all, officers exercise discretion every day on our roads when they decide whether to pull over a driver who is speeding versus one who is both speeding and swerving in traffic.

Similarly, law-enforcement resources — federal, state and local — should be focused on deporting the real bad guys.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: Evangelicals can’t advance dignity by dehumanizing others

If the stages of a social movement are emergence, coalescence, bureaucratization and decline, the reaction against the Trump evangelicals among other evangelicals is still in the emergence stage. But one significant act of coalescence took place recently at Wheaton College, where a group of 50 ethnically and denominationally diverse evangelical leaders...
Opinion: Educational fraud continues

Earlier this month, the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, aka The Nation’s Report Card, was released. It’s not a pretty story. Only 37 percent of 12th-graders tested proficient or better in reading, and only 25 percent did so in math. Among black students, only 17 percent tested proficient or better in reading, and just...
Opinion: Barbara Bush: Fake pearls, genuine heart

Barbara Bush was an expert at throwing shade, even before the term existed. When Congressman Dan Rostenkowski gave the first lady a shampoo for white hair made in his Illinois district, she tried it on her dog Millie. “When I shampooed her with it, she became a brown and slightly yellow-haired dog,” she wrote in her memoir. “At this...
Opinion: Remembering Barbara Bush, grieving mother

My mother and Barbara Bush were contemporaries. Despite coming from very different backgrounds — daughter of a Kansas farmer and daughter of a New York City businessman — they had a common experience, a very human link. It’s a sad connection that I suspect also has many a woman feeling fondly toward Bush, who died Tuesday at 92. Both...
Opinion: Paul Ryan is the ultimate party man

The mistake about Paul Ryan, the one that both friends and foes made over the years between his Obama-era ascent and his just-announced departure from the House speakership, was to imagine him as a potential protagonist for our politics, a lead actor in the drama of conservatism, a visionary or a villain poised to put his stamp upon the era. This Ryan-of-the-imagination...
More Stories