In North Carolina and other states, debates about immigration laws and policies will play an important role in the upcoming presidential election. The recent case of a Salvadoran man perhaps signals a change in the way the United States will handle immigration issues.
Last week, a family was reunited when the 26-year-old man was released from custody after spending seven months in immigration detention. He was arrested by immigration officials outside his home in June, 2011. He came to the U.S. with his mother when he was only 15. But in 2006, he missed a court date, and the immigration judge ordered that he be removed from the country.
He received some help in the present case from high places, however. A U.S. Representative from Texas intervened on his behalf, asking that the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement release the man. ICE agreed and gave the Salvadoran man what is called "deferred action." Under this status, he can live and work here for one year and can obtain a green card through his wife, who is already a U.S. citizen.
The Texas representative called him "a family man" and someone who is "hardworking and paid taxes." He has no criminal record, and he and his wife have a young son, born in the U.S.
The man's case is not unique, however. Immigration officials have stated that they will focus on deporting those illegal immigrants who have criminal records, while putting on hold deportation proceedings against those who have committed no crimes in the U.S.
Source: Houston Chronicle, "Immigrant husband, father spared from deportation," Susan Carroll, Jan. 27, 2012.