Ruth Diaz faces deportation, despite the fact that she has no criminal record and a toddler born in the United States. This despite a June 17 memorandum from the Obama administration prioritizing the deportation of violent criminals.
Immigration enforcement officials are ignoring the June 17 directive from Homeland Security boss Janet Napolitano to place undocumented immigrants who pose a threat to national security at the front of the deportation line, according to activists from CASA de Maryland. Instead of deporting drug dealers and other violent criminals first, activists charge that some local ICE offices are still deporting people who aren't dangerous, like mothers and students.
Among the protesters are two Prince George's County women who say they were turned over to immigration officials by Prince George's County police. In two cases, the women had called police to report they were being attacked: one by
a roommate, the other by her husband.
“I called police to protect myself from a person who was violent," says Ruth Diaz, speaking through a translater. "So they arrested both of us and the police turned us over to immigration.”
Diaz must leave by the end of the month, even though she has no criminal record and a toddler born in the U.S.
It's not just mothers either -- thousands of undocumented teenagers and young adults who were hoping to benefit from the DREAM act, a federal proposal that would allow those with a clean record to apply to college and ultimately become citizens, are also facing deportation.
"I moved out here from L.A. to work on the DREAM Act," says Matias Ramos, who lives in D.C. "I had been a volunteer for the Obama campaign and I really thought there was going to be change. I’m not a felon; I’m not a criminal."
The Obama administration has stated they plan to review about 300,000 illegal immigration cases and prioritize the deportation of undocumented workers with criminal records. The system faces a heavy backlog, so the policy was intended to commit the limited resources of ICE to cases of national import.
In a statement to WAMU, ICE did not address any of these cases but stressed that ICE prosecutors have been given discretion on which immigrants to deport as long as they aren’t criminals. However sources familiar with federal prosecutions say because prosecutors advance based on the number of convictions and deportations, there is little incentive for them to drop cases.
An estimated 11.2 million illegal immigrants currently live and work in the United States.