The picture of a father being forced to leave his family behind is probably not what President Trump imagined when developing his immigration policy. But as three recent cases occurring less than a month apart show, this is the reality many people face because of the administration’s new, far-reaching deportation rules.
An undocumented father with a 5-year-old son who is battling cancer found out on Thursday, February 8 that he is due to be deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
From Mexico, Jesus Berrones lives in Arizona with his pregnant wife Sonia and five children. The 30-year-old was brought to the U.S. by his parents in 1989 when he was just one and a half years old, reports HuffPost.
Berrones is the family’s sole wage earner. His son, who is undergoing chemotherapy, has been battling leukemia since 2016. At the time, ICE granted Berrones a stay of removal because of his son’s condition.
Although President Trump portrays his administration as prioritizing violent criminals for deportation, Berrones’ case is only the latest example of individuals facing deportation who don’t fit this description: Under Trump, immigration enforcement guidelines have become a lot broader.
On Friday, it was reported that an Ohio resident and business-owner, Amer Adi Othman, was forced to return to Jordan after living in the U.S. for 39 years. And on Martin Luther King Day, Jorge Garcia — a 39-year-old husband and father who arrived in the U.S. from Mexico at the age of 10 — was deported.
Both Garcia and Berrones typify the sort of person who would be considered a “Dreamer,” qualifying for permanent legal status under The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM).
Garcia, however, was too old when he arrived to qualify under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. And it’s unclear whether Berrones has lived in the country continuously since June 2007 (another qualification that must be met under Obama’s DACA policy).
Berrones was first deported to Mexico in 2006 after he was caught driving with a fake license. After this he re-entered the country unlawfully on two occasions in order to be back with his family.
According to Berrones’ lawyer Garrett Wilkes, speaking to HuffPost, when Berrones filed a stay with ICE last year under the new Trump administration, he was told this was not necessary as he was no longer considered a deportation priority.
This changed when, in January, ICE issued a notice to deport Berrones. His second request for a stay was then denied.
“He’s a hard-working man” Sonia Berrones, who is a U.S. citizen, told HuffPost. “We’re scared. The kids will ask me: ‘Where’s Daddy?'”
Berrones on Friday took refuge in a sanctuary church — Shadow Rock United Church of Christ — in Phoenix. He plans to stay there until ICE grants him a stay or his lawyer is able to find a legal resolution.
ICE failed to respond to a request for comment from ThinkProgress about the decision to deport Berrones.
The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) guidelines under President Trump don’t only target dangerous and violent criminals. They cast a wider net by also including low-level offenders and those with outstanding deportation orders.
According to DHS statistics released in December the number of arrests of foreigners living illegally in the U.S. have risen sharply under Trump. Since his inauguration, ICE officers made 110,568 arrests – that’s 42 percent more than the year before.
It’s not just the number of arrests though that has increased. The administration continues to give misleading statements when it comes to describing immigrants.
Just this week, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly described Dreamers as “lazy.” Speaking to reporters, he said the Trump administration’s immigration proposal gives legal protections “beyond what anyone could have imagined” – even providing protections for those who were “too lazy to get off their asses” to register for the DACA program.
There are, however, a variety of reasons that don’t involve laziness that may limit DACA-eligble applications from signing up, from the application’s $495 fee to hurricanes in Texas and Florida causing mail slowdowns.
And last month, the Department of Justice and DHS released a report claiming that three out of four individuals convicted of international terrorism or terrorism-related offenses were “immigrants.” The report, however, was widely criticized for its lack of evidence.
UPDATE 2,13: ICE has decided to grant Jesus Berrones a temporary stay — he will be allowed to stay in the United States with his family for one year. In a statement issued February 12, Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe, a public affairs spokesperson at ICE, said: “In an exercise of discretion, ICE has granted Jesus Armando Berrones-Balderas a one-year stay of removal on humanitarian grounds.”
The decision comes after widespread media coverage of Berrones’ battle to stay with his 5-year-old son who has leukemia. After the one year is up, Berrones will have to file for another renewal.