A few beers and now this student faces deportation

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
. 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
, said at a press conference Monday.


Joshua Hoyt and Rigo Padilla deliver petitions to immigration offices 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
Greg Harris.

Also there was Ricardo Estrada, executive director of Erie
Neighborhood House
. He has known Padilla since he was 12 years old.

"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
reintroduced it.

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
immigration attorney.

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."


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  • I'm sorry but, WHAT?!?

    He was drinking and driving. He endangered his life and the lives of innocent people.

    I've been known to call the police on people in my own family who had been drinking and got behind the wheel of a car. He gets no sympathy from me. Deportation is the least that should happen to people this stupid.

    Thanks for publishing the list of people there supporting this ridiculousness. Now I know who to vote against.

  • Personally, I don't think this is a matter of DUI. I think this has a lot to do with racial profiling of some sort. I guarantee that if the person who rolled through a stop was a white man, driving a Mercedes-Benz there would be nothing done about it. Not saying all police officers. DUI or not I don't think he, an honor roll college student, community volunteer, should be sent back to Mexico. It will be a sad day if he is because that would mean another rapist will rape, another murderer will murder, another drug dealer will deal. There are so many more important things to be concerned about than where your neighbor came from. "The Great American Melting Pot"...what a crock. *****By the way, I'm not standing up for the DUI part of the story*****

  • By no means is drinking and driving acceptable, imo. However, sending the kid back to Mexico is a bit extreme. Give him a few days in county, some classes pertaining to drunk driving, a fine and some community service. Give the kid a chance before you write him off.

    Unfortunately, he wouldn't be the first kid to get hammered by the legal system. Yes, people need to be held accountable for their actions, but not all offenders are the same, imo. People arrested and convicted of class X felonies have been given far less severe punishment for their crime(s) then what this kid faces.

    I also do not understand how convictions can/should be allowed to haunt an individual for the rest of their lives. There needs to be some oversight, imo (E.G. - sex offenders shouldn't be working at schools or day cares). But once an individual completes the terms of his/her sentencing, they are released (if they went to jail/prison/boot camp, etc) back to society. While they 'paid their debt', many restrictions and barriers still remain although they are 'free.' Said barriers make it very difficult to reintegrate the former offenders back into society.

    In this case, they are not even going to give this kid a chance at 'getting his act together.' They are just going to remove him from this society altogether.

    Kinda scary.

  • Rolling through a stop sign is clearly a crime worthy of deportation. Unlike authorizing the use of drills on detainees, which is heroism worthy of the Office of the Vice President.

  • Isn't he being deported because he's an illegal immigrant, not just because he's a drunk driver? I empathize with everyone who comes to this country to try to make a better life for their family, but my sympathy is running out for all the people who think they are special because they are good students, have kids, etc.. and that they shouldn't be held to our federal laws.

  • This article completely distorts the issues by bringing his education into question and by trying to make it seem like the specific crime for which he was arrested should affect the outcome. It also shows the obvious skewed viewpoint of the author by immediately blaming the Obama Administration.

    1) The government has been doing this kind of thing for years...don't tell me that it's all Obama's fault.

    2) This isn't about the DUI. There are lots of crimes he could have been charged with that come with light penalties but that could have gotten home reported to immigration. He's not being deported for a DUI or rolling through a stop sign or anything, he's being deported for living in the country illegally.

    3) Why bring up how smart he is? Oh he went to school and gets good grades. So you're saying if he was stupid we wouldn't care as much? It would somehow be less wrong to send him to Mexico if instead of going to college, he dropped out of high school and worked at a minimum wage job?

    This has nothing to do with any of these things. If his parents came into the country illegally and he never attained citizenship, then he is technically here illegally. However, since he came over through no fault of his own and this is the only life he's ever known, should he really be deported? If we then make a law that prevents kids like that from being deported, will parents purposely bring their kids here and hide out hoping that if they're here long enough, at least their kids can stay no matter what? I agree that something needs to be done, but it's not a black-and-white easy answer like so many people think it is. As it is, wealthy Mexican women "vacation" to California close to their due dates so their children will be born in the US and be naturalized citizens. If a law is put into place, it must be done so in a way that doesn't harm anyone, but avoids allowing people to take advantage of it.

    Please concentrate on issues next time you write an article instead of trying to use a sob story to sway your readers' viewpoints.

  • You better believe if I wasn't an "official" citizen of the United States, I would keep a VERY low profile. You wouldn't even find me driving PERIOD, and definitely not driving while alcohol is in my system. I wouldn't send him back to Mexico. That's too harsh. I would put him on probation however, and see if this was just a fluke. But if violates his probation in any way, he should then be deported.

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