September 09, 2013
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Enforcement and Removal Operations
New Orleans Field Office Director
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
RE: Positive exercise of Prosecutorial Discretion for immigrant parents detained during New Orleans immigration operations
Dear Mr. Sandweg and Mr. Lund,
We, the undersigned write to urge that the Department of Homeland Security and the New Orleans Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Field Office take significant steps to exercise prosecutorial discretion in the detention and deportation of parents and legal guardians of children, especially those encountered collaterally during Department of Homeland Security investigations and operations in Louisiana.
On Friday, August 23, we welcomed the directive by Acting Director of ICE, John Sandweg, Facilitating Parental Interests in the Course of Civil Immigration Enforcement Activities. According to this directive, special consideration should be made in the placement, detention, and deportation of immigrants who are primary caretakers of minor children, regardless of the children’s immigration status. In addition, the prosecutorial discretion guidelines set by former ICE director John Morton in the June 17, 2011 memoranda Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion Consistent with Civil Immigration Enforcement Priorities of the Agency for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Aliens and Prosecutorial Discretion: Certain Victims, Witnesses, and Plaintiffs set guidelines for exercising discretion for “low priority” removals taking into account the totality of the circumstances.
However, over the past six months, as documented by the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, ICE enforcement actions in Louisiana have snared parents who are now facing deportation. The deportations of these parents would directly contradict the intent and letter of the August 23 Facilitating Parental Interests in the Course of Civil Immigration Enforcement Activities memo. Such parents currently facing deportation include:
- Jimmy Barraza-Bonilla (A#098-883-799). Mr. Barraza-Bonilla is responsible for four US citizen children in the United States. He is the biological father of two daughters: Jammy (5 years old) and Natalie (2 years old). Since 2007, Mr. Barraza-Bonilla has also covered all housing, food, and education costs for his two teenaged stepchildren: Carlos (16) and Catherine (12). Mr. Barraza-Bonilla’s partner Lilian has several medical problems, and without his presence has been forced to close their small business, leaving the family without any income to pay for their expenses.
- Juan Carlos Castillo Salazar (A#097-736-118). Mr. Castillo Salazar is the proud father of Rene Salazar-Hernandez, a US citizen who turned 3 years old on September 9th. Rene is not talking yet, and will need serious evaluation by specialists and possible speech therapy. Rene, a child with special needs, requires financial and emotional support that only his father Mr.Castillo Salazar can provide.
- Juan Ramon Turcios Garcia (A#098-589-998). Mr. Turcios Garcia is the father of a two year-old US citizen daughter, who suffers reoccurring health problems and is awaiting diagnosis from her specialist. Mr. Turcios Garcia is also the father of two young boys born in Honduras whom he had not seen for nine years. Mr. Garcia was finally reunited with them on August 1, 2013 when the Office of Refugee Resettlement released the minors into their parents’ care. Once again Mr. Turcios Garcia’s family has been separated when ICE agents arrested Mr. Turcios Garcia during a community raid. Although Mr. Turcios Garcia has one misdemeanor conviction for disturbing the peace, he has no serious criminal record and is not a threat to the community; rather Mr. Turcios Garcia is very active in his congregation and was preparing for a church leadership training.
- Ronald Martinez-Rivera (A#200-118-775). Mr. Martinez-Rivera came to New Orleans a few weeks after hurricane Katrina and helped the city rebuild. He is the proud father of a US citizen daughter, Natalia Melissa Martinez-Garcia (2 years old). He is the sole provider for his family. He has no criminal record. Earlier this year, Mr. Martinez-Rivera was the victim of an armed robbery and is exploring possible U-visa eligibility.
- Enrique Morales-Sosa (A# 094-925-234). Mr. Morales-Sosa takes care of 2 US citizen children, Rachel, 8 and Yanely, 6. Mr. Morales-Sosa was swept up in an ICE raid and detained while he and his fiancée were driving to buy school supplies for her two daughters. Mr. Morales-Sosa has no criminal record, is a dedicated father, and is the only source of economic support for his fiancée and her children. Now, because Mr. Morales-Sosa was stopped at the border once, six years ago when he first traveled to the country, ICE has refused to exercise discretion and release him.
- Rony Ramos-Carrasco (A#078-178-110). Mr. Ramos-Carrasco is the father of two US citizen children. Although he has been deported twice before, his returns to the United States were compelled by a need to reunite with and support his family. The first time Mr. Ramos-Carrasco was forced to return because his young daughter underwent surgery; the second time he came back for the birth of his son. His wife now underwent surgery on September 9 and desperately needs Mr. Turcios Garcia by her side to support her in her recovery. Further, Mr. Ramos-Carrasco cannot return to Honduras because he fears for his life if he is deported.
These parents were detained directly by ICE as they were going about their everyday lives with their families. They were driving to work, buying school supplies for their children, unpacking groceries from their cars, or simply cooking lunch at home, when ICE agents interrogated them based solely on racial profiling, fingerprinted them, and detained them. Every day there are new cases of families being torn apart by deportation after being detained during an immigration raid in New Orleans.
We urge the ICE Field Office in New Orleans and the ICE Headquarters in Washington D.C. to exercise prosecutorial discretion and grant deferred action to the above mentioned parents. These parents have been the victims of racial profiling, have no significant criminal record, and have made positive contributions to their communities; they should be released from detention and reunited with the children that rely on them.
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Detention Watch Network
Jobs with Justice
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
National Day Laborer Organizing Network
National Domestic Workers Alliance
National Guestworkers Alliance
National Immigration Law Center
National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
New Orleans Congress of Day Laborers
New Orleans Worker’s Center for Racial Justice
PICO National Network
United We Dream
United Workers Congress