Integration, not deportation

Today we report the news that a US citizen has lost her fiancé at the hands of immigration agents. With the deportation of the man who was about to become her husband, Neida Lavayen becomes one of the most recent victims of President Obama’s blanket deportation policy.

Ruben Quinteros was arrested at his workplace in New Jersey on September 15, eight days before his wedding to Lavayen. He was retained in a detention center for over a month, and deported to his native Uruguay on October 31.

Quinteros, as many of the immigrants this Administration is choosing to expel, had no criminal record and had never been arrested. He entered the country legally in 2003 and overstayed his entry permit.

Immigrant families in the US, most of them of Hispanic origin, are losing members by the day. A study released yesterday found that detentions and deportations of immigrants have left over 5,000 minors stranded in our nation’s child-welfare system. As they have been systematically torn apart, our communities live in fear.

Massive deportation has become our immigration policy. Never mind Obama’s words about understanding the complex realities of new immigrants, or his pledge to expel violent immigrants only.

In his three years in office, Obama has removed over one million immigrants – an all time record– the majority of them are people with no criminal record and with family ties in the US. Each removal costs the Government an estimated $26,000.

Why is the President doing this? Because deportation is an effective political tool, and he is using it. President Obama may not be tough enough to advance a much-needed jobs plan, and protect his own health and financial reforms. But he can “protect” the United States from the phantom threat of immigrants.

President Obama must change course and recognize that the answer to our domestic immigration puzzle is not deportation, but the integration of millions of immigrants who come to this country to work hard and improve their lives. If he cannot do so, we hope the 12 million Latinos expected to vote in 2012 will send him a clear message.