ICE prepares to deport 14-year-old student ignoring memo to exercise prosecutorial discretion

LatinaLista — This week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offered to temporarily suspend the deportation cases of an estimated 16,500 people. That’s more than 70 percent of the immigration cases pending as of mid-April. Though it sounds like a step in the right direction to address the senseless separation of families, in those cases where parents are being deported, it’s not enough because the orders of deportation are still happening to not only adults but children too.

14-year-old Victoria Valdez

The latest egregious case involves a young 14-year-old girl.

Victoria Valdez was brought to the US from Argentina when she was only 3 years old by her mother Carina. She’s attended school here in the United States all these years and has her heart set on being a lawyer or veterinarian. However, those dreams were shattered when her mother went to the police for help.

Last December, ICE showed up at Victoria’s mother’s job after she filed a restraining order against someone ICE was looking for.

Victoria and her mother were put in deportation proceedings and are now being told that they must leave the country on Sunday, April 29. ICE plans to deport a 14-year-old girl who has never done anything wrong in her life. The only mistake her mother made was to live in the US without the proper paperwork but otherwise she was the kind of person nobody minded having as a neighbor or a member of their church. Yet, ICE is deeming both as enough of a security threat to warrant their expulsion before Victoria can even finish out the school year.

Several colleges have already expressed interest in having Victoria as a student. Even the Coast Guard has recognized Victoria’s value and contribution to this country but none of that will come to fruition. ICE has already deported her father, and forced her aunt, Jordana Vera, to spend nine months in detention before being released a couple of weeks ago.

Victoria and her mother clearly are eligible to be granted prosecutorial discretion, as outlined by Dept. of Homeland Security’s John Morton’s memo. So why are they being deported?

It’s a question that advocates for DREAM students are increasingly asking. The news that ICE will temporarily suspend 70 percent of pending cases is being met with high skepticism — and high frustration because ICE has so far failed to act in good faith on the memo as promised.

There is even some grumbling that’s getting louder that if the Obama administration doesn’t do something to halt Victoria’s deportation and others who meet the prosecutorial discretion directive, a message to not support President Obama for re-election will go out to thousands of networks in the Latino community.

It would be easy to characterize this response as a tantrum to get their way but when day-in and day-out there are children and parents literally being ripped from their communities and families when the administration promised it wouldn’t happen, it’s not a tantrum but an exhaustion of being told one thing but bearing the consequences of quite different actions.

Update: A Stay of Removal is being filed tomorrow by an attorney supporters of Victoria and her mother were able to locate at the last minute. They need ICE to grant the Stay of Removal. In the meantime, there is a petition to sign to help the family stay in the United States.

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