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Sara’s Struggle: An undocumented woman’s fight to remain with her daughter

Reposted from Reform Immigration for America

On New Year’s Day, 2011, Sara Martinez sat with her family on a bus in Rochester, NY, thinking it would take them back to their home in New York City. The bus made it there, Sara did not. Before the bus pulled out of the station, two Border Patrol officers entered the bus, and asked Sara for her identification. After she showed them her Ecuadorian passport, the officers then asked to see documents showing her authorization to reside in the United States. When Sara could not produce a federally issued ID, she and her ex-husband were removed from the crowded bus by the officers, handcuffed, and placed in a squad car, all within the view of Sara’s 6 year old daughter. Though the bus was full, no other passengers were asked to show ID’s or produce papers. Sara and her ex-husband were singled out.

Sara, who has lived in this country for several years, who has never broken a law, and whose daughter was born here and is a US citizen, should qualify for prosecutorial discretion—a new measure issued by the Obama administration to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that calls for deportations cases to be prioritized according to risk factor. Under prosecutorial discretion, law-abiding and hardworking members of the community, who pay taxes and have set down roots by starting families, are considered low-priority while criminals are considered high-priority. Since her arrest, Sara has applied three times for prosecutorial discretion, and three times she has been told she doesn’t “fit the profile.”

Her story is not an uncommon one. Though prosecutorial discretion was issued by the White House as a way to make America’s immigration policy more just and humane, the DHS and ICE, the two agencies charged with deportation proceedings, have either ignored the measure or have refused to apply it to eligible cases. Both agencies pledged to review more than 300,000 deportation cases that are currently in process to see if they qualify for prosecutorial discretion. According to ICE Director John Morton, as of March 5th, ICE has only reviewed 165,000 cases, and concluded that only 11,000 fall under prosecutorial discretion. Most importantly, only 1,583 cases have been closed, meaning that out of 300,000 people, only 1,583 individuals have been allowed to remain in the United States when all is said and done.

It is up to DHS head, Secretary Janet Napolitano, to ensure that the DHS and ICE follow the White House’s directive and apply prosecutorial discretion to all deportation cases. The failure to do so means that good, hardworking people will be deported along with convicted criminals, and that families, like Sara’s, will be needlessly broken up.

Since her arrest, Sara’s daughter has lost weight (at 6 years old she weighs only 35 pounds), suffers recurring nightmares, and lives in fear of the day that the police will return to take her mother away to jail or another country. Sara wants only to be able to provide her daughter with a better life than she could in Ecuador. Sara’s daughter, for her part, deserves to have all the opportunity she is entitled to in this country as an American citizen, including being raised by her mother and living without fear.

To get involved in Sara’s struggle for a future in this country with her daughter, please sign this petition.

And please share the petition on Twitter by clicking HERE ; Share on Facebook by clicking HERE



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