As the federal government makes plans to review some 300,000 deportation cases nationwide, reaction to the plan announced by the Obama administration last August has been mixed.
The idea of the immigration court case reviews, a test run of which was just completed in Denver and Baltimore, is for officials to weed out people who are considered a "low priority" for deportation, allowing them to focus on deporting those with criminal records. Those granted a reprieve - about 1,600 so far in the two-city pilot - are allowed stay in the U.S., although they aren't granted legal status and their cases may be reopened, leaving them in immigration limbo.
There are about 10,000 deportation cases pending in the immigration courts in Arizona. In separate stories, the Arizona Republic's Daniel Hernandez contrasts two of them: That of a young woman who was spared deportation two months after Homeland Security announced the plan, and a Mexican-born high school track coach for whom the policy change came too late.
From the story involving college student Angelica Terrazas, 26:
By ICE standards, Terrazas was considered a low-priority case. She didn't have a criminal record and was pursuing a college degree. But agents put her in deportation proceedings anyway, as was routine, even in low-level cases. Because of her good record, however, agents released her on her own recognizance instead of holding her in a detention facility and gave her a notice to appear later in immigration court, Terrazas said.
...Then, in October, prosecutors abruptly did an about-face, offering to dismiss Terrazas' deportation case.
"That would never happen before," said her lawyer, Judy Flanagan, who has handled scores of immigration cases in Phoenix.
And from that of Miguel Aparicio, 38, an award-winning coach from the Phoenix area whose story was also featured in Runner's World:
After several court extensions, the date for Aparicio to leave the country was finally set: Friday, June 17, 2011.
Morton, the ICE director, announced the new deportation policy the same day. Aparicio decided to wait until the following Monday to turn himself in to ICE in hopes of buying some time. In the meantime, his new lawyer, Peñalosa, filed legal papers asking ICE to let him stay.
Several dozen of his runners from Alhambra High and supporters gathered outside the ICE detention center on Central Avenue in Phoenix as Aparicio walked inside. The story was covered by several local television news stations.
The small crowd waited for word for several hours. About 2 p.m., Aparicio said, ICE officials loaded him into a van with two other illegal immigrants. He said none of his supporters was still out on the sidewalk when they drove away and took him to the border in Nogales three hours away.
Both stories together are a good read, representative of how no policy is one-size-fits-all. (Although Aparicio did have a DUI dating back several years, according to the story, which may not have helped his case even now.) He has been living on his parents' small farm in the state of Guanajuato since he was deported last summer.