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Representative speaks on behalf of immigrant in North Carolina

Much has been written recently about the shift in Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy towards pursuing for deportation those immigrants with criminal records. But some are asking whether the government might be casting too large a net. Immigrants who have committed relatively minor crimes may get swept up by the new policy, and a Congressman is urging ICE to reconsider the case of one such illegal immigrant.

The man came to the United States illegally when he was 14 years old. That was 13 years ago. Now he is married and has children, all of whom have U.S. citizenship because they were born here. But he has drawn the attention of ICE because he has accumulated at least eight driving without a license convictions. All are misdemeanor offenses and he has no other crimes on his record. Yet he is facing deportation, which could rend his family in two.

In the man's corner, however, is Congressman Luis Gutierrez. Gutierrez says that the man's case is not unusual. He believes that the change in ICE policy was not meant to capture people with minor criminal records. He referred to an ICE document in which the head of the agency stated that immigrants who endanger the country's safety or who have significant felonies should receive the agency's strongest attention. The man fit into neither of those two categories.

By contrast, the same document also included a number of criteria that should steer ICE away from deporting certain immigrants. One of those criteria was whether an immigrant had resided in the country since he or she was a child. In addressing a crowd that had gathered outside the Charlotte building where the man's immigration proceedings were being held, the Congressman said that the man "is the father of two American citizen children. He is not a criminal."

Source: The Charlotte Observer, "Illinois congressman calls on federal authorities to drop deportation case against S.C. father," Tim Funk, Mar. 14, 2012.

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