Woefully Inadequate Relief.

by

The United States’ government acts directly against the interests of a  large segment of its own citizenry: Children of non-legal immigrants. This is evident from a piece of its own immigration law: Cancellation of Removal.

A simple story will attempt to inject life into what would otherwise be a dry, dull law analysis.

San Salvador, El Salvador, 1990. The last thing  Jacques Gonzalez  remembered about his parents were their cries of agony, indelibly imprinted in his memory from the night burly men in uniforms violently ended their lives. He was 8 years old.

Jacques struggled daily to subsist in a Mara-infested neighborhood of San Salvador. Although he had the opportunity, on many occasions, to join up with a gang, he chose not to; one of the effects of his parents’ deaths on him was a physical aversion to any sort of violence. He hustled the streets, charming the occasional Gringos–mostly well-to-do youngsters yearning to leave their mark of good karma on the world– into doling out an impressive $50 a week.

Years later, at 15, Jacques, a blooming heartache for the ladies, had saved enough money to run his own vegetable cart. Luck shone its light upon him further when an unmatched Salvadoran beauty, buying veggies for her mother, locked eyes with him and broke out into the type of smile that cannot be mistaken for mere platonic friendliness. They fell in love immediately and became Jacques and Estefania Gonzalez

And as immediate loves burn so hot, reason evaporated and the two were soon proud, precariously young parents of a baby girl, Maria.  The ever-increasing  sales from Jacques’ bustling vegetable cart allowed his new family to live comfortably. For the first time in his life since his days as an 8-year-old, he began to enjoy life; the fierce love he held for his wife and daughter began to mend the emotional chasm left by the past’s insufferable trauma. Then disaster struck.

The Maras never forget, especially when someone rebukes an invitation to join them. They were also envious of Jacques because of his modest success and the fact that his Estefania was far superior than any of those that resided within their den.

To vindicate its envy, the Mara bestowed upon one of its fledgling members the task of spraying Jacques’ home with bullets. Maria was struck, departing this world at an unacceptably young age. Terrified, shocked, and with the paralysis of grief right around the corner, Jacques knew he had to do something to maintain the last string that secured him from succumbing to the loss of his soul–his wife. He took all his savings and fled to the United States with Estefania.

The Gonzales’ settled into Lubbock, Texas, both obtaining low-wage employment on a farm. It was 2000. Understandably, they drudged through their first years in the United States in a near fatal depression. In 2003, the fruits of a rare heated moment came to fruition: their second child, Luz. Life breathed into Jacques. Concurrently, a new, yet not so drastic development occured–the financial burden of raising a child in the United States.

Up until the birth of their second child, Jacques and Estefania worked in the fields of a farm, completely off the books. The wages were just enough to enable their survival. More money was needed fast.

A nearby meat-packing factory was hiring; the pay was double of what they earned at the farm but, significantly, required papers in order to accept an application. It was a small obstacle; the two obtained fraudulent Social Security cards and began to work for the factory. A week later, serious looking men and women with the letters ICE on their tacky windbreakers stormed into the factory, arresting, amongst others, Jacques and Estefania

After a short hearing in Immigration Court 6 months later, Estefania and Jacques, along with baby Luz, were whisked away back to El Salvador. The end.

For the purposes of the following, consider that the Gonzalez’  are not eligible for asylum.

Cancellation of Removal: Policy over Citizens

For one to qualify  for cancellation of removal the following elements must be satisfied:

1) Has continuously resided in the United States for at least ten years; and
2) Has been a person of good moral character throughout this time; and
3) Is not otherwise subject to criminal bars arising from a conviction of any crime outlined in INA §212(a)(2), §237(a)(2), or §237(a)(3); and
4) Establishes that removal would result in “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to the alien’s spouse, parent, or child who is a United States citizen or legal permanent resident.

Jacques and Estefania can satisfy #4: the potential for another run in with the Maras would likely  constitute an exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to their U.S. citizen daughter, Luz.

However, they had only been in the U.S. for three years, not for 10. They are out of luck. In essence, this “relief” made available by our government is not a relief. Instead, it is an overt example of  “interests of the many” policymaking trumping a much more compelling interest–the concrete survival and well being of a defenseless U.S. citizen. Specifically, the U.S. government believes that the greater interest–that of maintaining a restrictive flow of immigration–is so important as to justify the  coercive exile of  U.S. citizens.

The ineptness of laws like Cancellation of Removal is yet another compelling reason to push for comprehensive immigration reform. When our own citizenry is caught up in the marauding blades of the bureaucratic lawnmower of which our current system is, reform becomes a necessity.

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