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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Quoting my favorite author of all time Mr. Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist:

"If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble,... "the law is a ***--a
idiot. If that's the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the
worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience--by

There are two stories in the last few days that just scream for more attention because they demonstrate just how ridiculous and unforgiving our immigration system is.

The first involves Yaderlin Jimenez, the wife of Alex Jimenez, a missing American soldier in Iraq who is facing deportation proceedings because she is out of status. The folks at ICE were hot to remove her and were completely insensitive to the special circumstances and it was only after Mrs. Jimenez's lawyer blitzed the television news programs that Secretary of Homeland Michael Chertoff issued a statement that she would not be deported.

The second involves Zoila Meyer, who came to the US from Cuba when she was one year old. Ms. Meyer was not aware that she was born outside the US and  she believed she was a citizen her whole life (and if you think this is strange, I've seen it multiple times in my years of practice). Ms. Meyer, who as it turns out is a permanent resident anyway, is married to a US citizen and is the mother of four US-born children. She has been a civic leader in her community of Adelanto, California and even held a city council seat. She recently learned the truth of her background and applied for US citizenship. The problem is that because she believed she was a citizen, she voted. And for that, she is deportable. Never mind the purpose of the law and never mind the facts.

If you think that these kinds of cases are extremely rare, you would be wrong. They just happen to have gotten publicity. I have two cases on my desk right now for soldiers on active duty in Iraq who have wives in immigration trouble for entering the country illegally. And I can recall a case I finished last year where a young man graduated dental school and only learned when he was applying for his dental license that he was not born in the US (he came with his parents on a tourist visa when he was two and they told him his whole life he was born in the US).

We need immigration laws that allow for the application of common sense. But often in our efforts to "get tough" we do away with such discretion.

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