The Obama Administration is blindly enforcing immigration
laws that would end in the deportation of
promising college students and recent graduates whose parents brought
them to the United States as children.
Rigo Padilla moved from Mexico to Chicago when he was 6
years old. He is now 21, a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago and
a graduate of Harold Washington College.
Herta Llusho moved from Albania to Detroit when she was 11.
She is a student at University of Detroit Mercy and majoring in electrical
Walter Lara moved from Argentina to Florida when he was 3
years old. He graduated with honors from Miami Dade College.
Local leaders and politicians came together Monday in
Chicago to support Padilla. But his case has a twist.
Padilla was arrested for drinking and driving in January. He
admitted to police that he had "a few beers" while watching a football game with
friends. He planned to only drive eight blocks from a friend's house to his
own. He was stopped before he made it home after rolling through a stop sign.
Nobody was hurt in the incident and Padilla was given
supervision, which under Illinois law wouldn't even result in a conviction,
according to his immigration attorney Beatriz Sandoval.
But Padilla was reported to immigration officials and now
the young man faces deportation to Mexico, a country he hasn't visited since he
left more than 15 years ago.
"I do have a home here (in Chicago) and I want to stay
here," said Padilla, who wears an ankle bracelet so immigration officials can
track his movements.
President Obama has admitted the immigration laws are
broken. And immigrant advocates said that if they are broken they should not be
enforced until there is comprehensive immigration reform.They are right.
"The enforcement of immigration laws while we wait is causing
a lot of human misery," Joshua Hoyt,
executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee
Rights, said at a press conference Monday.
He added that the government should "stop the deportation of
Rigo Padilla and to stop senseless deportations and enforcement while we wait
for immigration reform."
Joining Hoyt were many officials, including Illinois Congresswoman
Jan Schakowsky, several aldermen, including Ricardo Munoz, Manuel Flores and
George Cardenas, and several state representatives, including Elizabeth Hernandez and
"One mistake shouldn't determine the rest of his life. One mistake
should not prevent him from pursuing all his goals. If that were the case, many
of us would not have achieved the goals that we have," Estrada said.
Padilla and other students like him could benefit from the
DREAM Act, sponsored by Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin. It would help legalize
young immigrants who came here as children, have good moral
character, and attend college or enlist in the military for at least two years.
The DREAM Act failed before in Congress in 2007, and Durbin recently
There are other so many students out there in similar straits. I wrote
about one student named Andrea on this blog a few weeks ago. I've been writing about
undocumented youth for almost 10 years, and they still haven't found a way to become legal. Many of their stories are on the Web
site Dream Activist.
Supporters rallied around Llusho and Lara this summer and
have temporarily halted their deportations.
We shouldn't limit the potential of these young people who
have so much to contribute. They didn't choose a life here since they were brought
to the United States by their parents. They have been educated here and we
shouldn't take away their future.
Padilla said he would like to stay in the U.S. and become an
He has been on the honor roll, volunteered at community
organizations and was president of
an organization of Latin American students at Harold Washington College.
He didn't even learn he was undocumented until he was 17 when a school
counselor asked him about his Social Security number. His parents told him he
didn't have one.
Yes, he made a mistake. Nobody was hurt. He has learned from
it. But it makes no sense to send him back to a country where he has no support,
a country that he doesn't know.
"I'm not sure what I would do in Mexico," Padilla told me.
"...It's going to be hard and I'm not looking forward to it."