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Immigration System isn’t Broken when it comes to Children. It Never was Any Good

LatinaLista — It’s been said so much that it now sounds like a cliche: U.S. immigration is a broken system.

Yet, for it to be broken means that it had to have worked at one time, which would mean that at one time it was a good system, or at least got the job done.

Usually, something breaks when it is overwhelmed. It would be easy to see how our current immigration system steadily became overwhelmed but, in some regards, the system never broke — it just never was any good.

I’m referring specifically to when it comes to undocumented children who are not with family members.

As someone who believes that compassion and lawfulness can go hand-in-hand, I am especially disturbed by a story coming out of Gilbert, Arizona.

(Source: city of Gilbert)

It seems three high school students: 16-year-old Jaime Cisneros, 17-year-old Johany Nafarrate, and 16-year-old Omar Galvez were spending their Spring Break doing a common but not very safe nor lawful activity — drag racing.

The three got pulled over and a Gilbert, Arizona police officer approached Jaime who was the driver. He asked Jaime for his driver’s license. Instead of lying or stalling, Jaime admitted to the officer he didn’t have a driver’s license, at least American. He did have a Mexican license.

Well, it doesn’t take a pyschic to know that such a response would send up a red flag to someone in law enforcement who lives in a state that has gone out of its way to make life difficult for undocumented immigrants.

It’s natural that the officer would call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to come in and review the matter.

At this juncture, there’s debate in Arizona circles whether the police officer may have racially profiled these boys when calling in ICE. Yet, if we are to be honest with ourselves, Jaime’s admission laid the groundwork for probable suspicion — but that is not what is so upsetting about this incident.

Knowing that the boys were not in this country alone, but living with their families and attending high school no less, were deported by ICE to Mexico — alone!

What is not clear is that ICE officials claim a parent for each of the students was also contacted but gives no further information.

According to Arizona ICE officials, the agency has picked up 2,408 “deportable aliens” since September. Of those, only two or three cases involved unaccompanied juveniles.

So, while it’s rare that such juveniles are deported, it does happen and it shouldn’t.

Immigrant advocates talk about the psychological and traumatic harm deportations have had on families, but usually in those cases it is the adults who are bearing the brunt of the trauma from interrogation through deportation.

In most cases, their maturity gets them through it. But to deport children and teenagers who are by themselves is unthinkable and unconscionable.

It is a form of abandonment — a criminal offense.

There has been a nationwide call for a moratorium on anymore immigration raids. It is unlikely that ICE will agree since they’re trying to make up for years of lax law enforcement.

In an ironic coincidence, this weekend 50 high school and college students from the greater Chicago area caravaned to Washington DC to demand an immediate moratorium on raids and deportations.

The young people have witnessed firsthand the devastation that the raids and deportations are having on families, and most of all their friends and themselves.

When it comes to children and juveniles, the letter of the law should not be applied to deport these victims of the immigration debate, but to reunite them with their families.

The bigger crime would be putting these children’s lives at risk simply because one government agency wants to claim they’re finally doing their job.

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