Th­ese aren’t ‘bad hom­bres’

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is de­port­ing a lot of good peo­ple.

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

PRES­I­DENT TRUMP vowed to de­port “bad hom­bres” — un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants with crim­i­nal records whose pres­ence in this coun­try is an un­ques­tioned bur­den and men­ace. In­stead, his ad­min­is­tra­tion has been con­tent to seize and ex­pel a teenage soc­cer star and his brother in sub­ur­ban Mary­land; a mother of three in Michi­gan who had spent 20 years in the United States; and, now in de­ten­tion pend­ing re­moval, a 43-year-old jan­i­tor at MIT whose three small chil­dren are U.S. cit­i­zens and whose mother, a per­ma­nent res­i­dent, planned to spon­sor him for a green card next year.

None of them had crim­i­nal records. Both the Michi­gan mother and the MIT jan­i­tor ran their own busi­nesses, pay­ing taxes and con­tribut­ing to the econ­omy. All had ac­tive, honor­able lives deeply en­twined with their com­mu­ni­ties. De­port­ing them is not only in­hu­mane but also sense­less.

So why do it? Pos­si­bly, Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment is sim­ply pluck­ing the low-hang­ing fruit that crosses agents’ path. Pos­si­bly, the agency is try­ing to please the boss in the Oval Of­fice by juic­ing de­por­ta­tion num­bers with the eas­i­est tar­gets of op­por­tu­nity.

There seems no other ready ex­pla­na­tion in the case of Fran­cisco Ro­driguez, the MIT jan­i­tor who fled El Sal­vador in 2006 af­ter a col­league at the engi­neer­ing firm where he worked was mur­dered by a shake­down gang. His asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tion was ul­ti­mately de­nied, in 2011, but Mr. Ro­driguez was granted an­nual stays that al­lowed him to re­main and work le­gally in the United States, and along the way he mar­ried and had three chil­dren.

The youngest was born this month, but Mr. Ro­driguez wasn’t al­lowed to at­tend the birth. He re­mains in cus­tody, as he’s been since last month when ICE or­dered him to re­port to its Bos­ton-area of­fice, and to bring a pre-pur­chased air ticket to El Sal­vador.

So what if Mr. Ro­driguez’s re­moval from the coun­try will leave his fam­ily with­out its pri­mary bread­win­ner? So what if he has learned English and been law-abid­ing? So what if MIT con­firmed that he was a model em­ployee who re­ceived pro­mo­tions? So what if he was ac­tive in his church, and in his chil­dren’s’ ele­men­tary school? And so what if there is no con­ceiv­able for­mu­la­tion by which he fits Mr. Trump’s def­i­ni­tion of a “bad hom­bre”?

Since Jan­uary, The Post re­ported, more than 105,000 im­mi­grants have been de­ported, 42 per­cent of whom had no crim­i­nal record. Dur­ing the same pe­riod last year, the num­ber was even greater — 121,000 — and the per­cent­age with no crim­i­nal his­tory was the same. But many more of those de­por­tees in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s wan­ing years were ap­pre­hended at or near the bor­der, then swiftly re­moved. Now, with bor­der cross­ings down, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion makes no such dis­tinc­tions. Whether an im­mi­grant en­tered the coun­try last week, last decade or 20 years ago makes lit­tle dif­fer­ence.

More than 1,000 peo­ple at MIT have signed a pe­ti­tion ask­ing for Mr. Ro­driguez’s re­lease. The uni­ver­sity’s pres­i­dent, L. Rafael Reif, ap­pealed on his be­half, as did both U.S. se­na­tors from Mas­sachusetts. Of course the ul­ti­mate an­swer lies with Congress, which ought to fix the im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem. But in the mean­time ICE in­sists that it is pri­or­i­tiz­ing crim­i­nals for de­por­ta­tion. If that’s so, by what con­ceiv­able logic are re­sources be­ing ex­pended to break up the Ro­driguez fam­ily?

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