Years ago a man married a woman from Mexico. That woman had a daughter who, then, was just a little girl. That little girl grew up and during her late teenage years she got herself into some major trouble. Teenage years are tough. But to be a Mexican teenager in a very "American" family and in a very "American" world has got to be even tougher. She started hanging out with "the wrong crowd" and that "crowd" committed a bunch of crimes. [By no means am I cutting her any slack insofar as her choices to hang out with the wrong crowd - everyone has choices and her choices were not good ones. She has to accept some personal responsibility - and she has - more on that further in this post...] I think the girl was 18 when she got arrested the first time for breaking and entering - burglary. Apparently she didn't learn her lesson after going to court and getting off fairly lightly with just probation, or something like that, because she got arrested a short time later and charged with the same crime, breaking and entering.
It gets worse. Before she could even go to court for the second time she did something horrible. I don't know all of the minor details, but from what I understand she and a group of her friends - including her boyfriend [same boyfriend who she was arrested with for committing the B & E's, by the way] were at a gas station when something happened and her boyfriend got jumped by another
I know this girl. She just isn't like that. Her mother is one of the sweetest, kindest, dearest women I have ever met in my life. Her step-father is a great man, who would do anything for anyone and give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. This is a really, really nice family - church going, hard-working, tax-paying, and one that gives back to the community - the Mom does a lot of volunteer work... with three sons who are great little boys. The oldest one is in AP classes in school, and the two younger boys are just all sorts of fun to be around and interact with. Sweet, sweet boys. And the girl, too. This girl who took a baseball bat to someone who was beating the crap out of her boyfriend. We weren't there and we can't possibly know what we would do in that same scenario...
Anyway, the girl was arrested and went to court. She was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison. At 18! She will be 21 next month. The mother and the boys have dutifully driven an hour - or more - every weekend to visit the girl in prison - one visiting day - Saturday afternoon - that is all they are allowed to see her. The step-father works on a boat and is gone for almost three weeks at a time and then is home for a week and a half. Or something like that, so I don't know exactly how often he sees her.
I also don't know the hows or whys of how it is that the mother is a legal citizen of the U.S. and for some reason the daughter is not [she wasn't born here - she was born in Mexico]. Why the daughter of this woman didn't get her green card or become a citizen at the same time is a question I have just never asked... The girl has done her time in prison, working in the kitchen there, going to classes and getting her GED, and for the most part has done everything she was supposed to and then some to try to get her life back on the right track. She was due to be released - TODAY - and instead found out the day before yesterday that she is NOT going to be released and instead is going to be sent to a maximum security facility in Atlanta and she is going to be deported! Devastating. Absolutely devastating. There is a huge lump in my throat that will not go away and my stomach is in a twisted knot. I cannot even begin to imagine what the Mom of this girl and her step-father - and three brothers - are going through right now.
So far the only assistance I have been able to give this family is the name of an immigration attorney that I got through a referral from our attorney - the man who has done our Estate Planning and our Wills. [Thank you David Nanney!] I know so little about the immigration process - and what you must do to become a U.S. citizen. I cannot believe they are deporting this girl when her family is here. No, I am not defending her for what she did wrong. And, I have a hard time in my own mind justifying someone being in the States illegally. [You can't have it one way for one person and another way for another person. I know this.] Why wasn't she allowed to become a citizen at the same time her Mom was? She was just a little girl then - like six or seven years old. On the other hand, I am having an even more difficult time thinking that this girl - almost 21, now - is going to be separated from her family and sent to Mexico where she has NO ONE but a single distant relative. I don't know the story about her real father - but from scant details I have learned over the many years of knowing this family - he is completely out of the picture. The step-father she has now is really the only Dad she has ever known.
Does anyone know how this whole process works? If you are illegally in the States and have committed felonious crimes, is there any chance that you can become a legal U.S. citizen? Does anyone know anything about the facility in Atlanta?
I'm just putting this out there - because I can't find the information that I'm looking for to help this family. Perhaps I'm not searching correctly - but it seems like all I am coming up with is a bunch of 1-800-type attorneys who make declarations of being able to help. The family has found an attorney that they are dealing with, right now, so my searches are proving to be absolutely fruitless. I did find this: "§1227 - Deportable aliens... (a) Classes of deportable aliens - Any alien in and admitted to the United States shall, upon the order of the Attorney General, be removed if the alien is within one or more of the following classes of deportable aliens... (2) Criminal offenses (A) General crimes... (II) is convicted of a crime for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed, is deportable [I don't think this applies, here, though - I mean why didn't they deport her before they sent her to prison if this is the case?!!]... (iii) Aggravated felony - Any alien who is convicted of an aggravated felony at any time after admission is deportable [can I presume that assault and battery with a deadly weapon is an "aggravated felony?"]...
Honestly I don't even know what I can do to help. Any suggestions or advice would be most gratefully appreciated right now. In the meantime, all I can do is keep them all in my prayers and hope that their situation somehow works out in the end... It is not looking good.