An immigration group has filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), accusing Dallas Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials of ordering the deportations of foreign nationals who qualify to remain in the United States. The complaint states ICE officials in Dallas are issuing blanket denials for stays of deportation, resulting in extreme family separation of American citizen families, many with young children.
The Isenberg Center for Immigration Empowerment (ICIE), a Dallas-based organization that provides free immigration help to foreign nationals, is asking the DHS’s Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate what they believe is a pattern of denying stays of deportation without providing due process. In those cases, ICIE says the foreign nationals qualified to remain in the United States under standards set by the Morton Memorandum of June 17, 2011, issued by National ICE Director John Morton.
Every foreign national in the United States is permitted to seek a stay of deportation once they are under a final order of deportation. The relief, commonly known as an I-246 with ICE, allows foreign nationals to delay a pending deportation for a set time period under circumstances set by ICE. These circumstances include family connections to a United States citizen (including marriage), a medical condition that requires ongoing treatment, and situations where deportation may be detrimental to their well-being (including fears of violence and persecution in a home country).
In the complaint letter, Ralph Isenberg of ICIE states “a few weeks before the presidential election, ICIE was informed by two different Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) agents that after the election, the I-246 form approvals, (which) we were used to, would cease. The new director in Dallas and her management team was given as the reason.” ICIE assists foreign nationals that are unable to find legal help with filing the I-246 form.
Isenberg points out that in the months before the election, nine requests for a stay of deportation were approved, with two denials. After the election, seven of eight requests for a stay of deportation have been denied. “Approving or denying an I-246 request is a very subjective decision,” Isenberg said. “We believe Dallas ICE officials are not exercising proper discretion in reviewing each individual case, a violation of federal law. We used to receive a letter summarizing the immigrant’s situation and specific reasons for approval or denial. Now, we are only getting a form letter denying the request. When we ask for reasons why a request was denied, ICE refuses to provide any answer.”
In every instance, the foreign national who was denied a stay of deportation met one or more of the conditions of Morton Memorandum of June 17, 2011 that should qualify them for approval. Examples include:
- Joel and Mirian Flores are from El Salvador and have three children (two of whom are American citizens). One of the citizen children has a medical condition that requires ongoing medical treatment. They own their own home, pay taxes and have never been in trouble with the law. An I-246 was approved a year ago, but their renewal was denied without explanation. The Flores family fears a return to El Salvador, which they left due to the extreme poverty and violence. Joel’s mother was kidnapped and murdered there, prompting his pilgrimage to the United States.
- Wendy Lizama, a native of Honduras with three American citizen children. Her I-246 had also been previously approved but the renewal was denied without explanation. She has spent the past year taking English classes, and she and her husband would have no means to support their children in Honduras if deported.
- Sandra Ramirez, an immigrant married to an American citizen, who is facing deportation after her American attorney took five thousand dollars from her and failed to file an I-130 form (which allows immigrant spouses of U.S. citizens a chance to obtain a visa or legal permanent resident status). Isenberg helped her file the form, but ICE officials refuse to grant a stay for her to wait and see if the I-130 request is approved.
- Elmer Marroquin, a native of El Salvador whose I-246 was approved a year ago, but whose renewal request was denied, even though he now has a lawyer completing and filing his forms. His six-year-old child (an American citizen) gets specialized treatment at Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas and cannot leave the country.
Isenberg believes the Department of Homeland Security should suspend all deportations out of the Dallas office until an investigation is completed. “The Supreme Court, in a ruling last year, stated that the opportunity for foreign nationals to receive fair treatment in our immigration system should not be a ‘game of chance,’ but that is exactly what is happening. There is no logic to how Dallas ICE treats people. We know of one foreign national who was convicted of a felony, yet Dallas ICE granted her a six month stay in the United States. Yet, Dallas ICE seems to be working overtime to deport mothers and fathers of American citizen children, who have committed no crime, without giving a reason. It should not happen.”
Victor Medina writes for Yahoo News and his political blog WhenLiberalsAttack.com. His other writing credits include The Dallas Morning News and SportsIllustrated.com. He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum. You can follow him on his blog, VictorMedina.com or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to receive a weekly email update from WhenLiberalsAttack.com. To be notified of future stories by Victor Medina, click the SIGN UP or SUBSCRIBE button at the top of this page.