The law says that it is a felony to reenter the country after being deported, punishable by fines, jail terms and deportation. The punishment depends on the individual's prior record. If there is a prior criminal record, the punishment can be up to 20 years of prison, according to the seriousness of the crime.
That said, there are many reasons to challenge this law. Some of these reentry situations have malicious intent but others do not. These latter cases are situations where a previously-deport immigrant has built a family and a life in the US and refuse to lose everything without a struggle.
No one questions that such cases are a violation of the law. But, the roots an individual has with the community should be considered. This is one of the criteria that is supposed to be taken into account under the new policy of discretion, according to how it has been explained.
Unfortunately, this hasn't turned out to be the case. Blanca Cardenas of Los Angeles was separated from her family and sent to Tijuana because she had reentered the United States illegally and Jaime Martinez of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, is being held in detention waiting to learn whether his fate, if he will be separated from his wife and four children.
Sadly, cases like that of Cardenas and Martinez are happening across the country. Even worse, since President Obama came to the White House, this type of deportation has increased in comparison to previous administrations. During the first half of last year, these cases accounted for 47% of criminal prosecutions for immigration violations.
A few weeks ago, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said that only 1% of the 150,000 cases reviewed met the criteria for prosecutorial discretion and were closed. This figure is an outrage!
It was announced that the priority is to deport the undocumented that present a danger to public safety. Illegal reentry is not - in and of itself- a threat to the community. This is exactly the type of situation that merits case-by-case consideration. This is another re example of the big gap between words and the actions.