OPINION: Stop the deportation madness, this time with Edisson Barros
Time is running out for a judge to block the deportation, set for Friday, of Edisson Barros, an undocumented immigrant and father of two who has lived in Maspeth, Queens, for 25 years.
Once again, we see the tragic consequences of the Trump administration’s immigration policy. According to the letter of the law, the immigration judge has the right to deport Barros, who appears to be in this country illegally but deporting him is not justice in the truest sense of the word and it will not make America safer.
What it will do is separate a father from his panicked wife and two children.
Barros worked as a taxi driver until, according to an NYPD spokesperson, he was arrested for getting into a verbal dispute with a driver about his dog not being on a leash. He was charged with criminal mischief for throwing his keys at the driver’s car, police said, and given a desk appearance ticket.
A desk appearance ticket is not a criminal arrest. It is far lower than a misdemeanor. It is the equivalent of what you might get for littering or jaywalking. Barros appeared in court to fight the summons, which was dismissed. ICE picked him up as he left the courtroom.
The NYPD spokesperson could not explain why or by whom ICE was notified. The NYPD, the spokesperson said, does not conduct civil immigration enforcement and would have no reason to check his immigration status.
New York is a sanctuary city and it has rules that determine when a person can be turned over to ICE or ICE can be notified of a person’s arrest. The bar for turning someone over is deliberately set high. The desk appearance ticket did not come even close to meeting that bar.
We’d like to know who notified ICE. Over the past two years, ICE has complained that the NYPD and the NYC Department of Correction has ignore its requests for information about inmates who may be undocumented without any change in city policy.
In a letter to the immigration judge, Councilman Francisco Moya (D-Maspeth) wrote, “[Barros] is a dedicated family man, working as a taxi driver to support his family. Mr. Barros has established himself as an upstanding member of his Queens community. When a friend, relative or stranger is in need, Mr. Barros does not balk, he lends a hand. He embodies the best attributes America values in its people.”
Last month, Barros’ 20-year-old daughter Eileen posted:
“My mom, sister and I are devastated and grieving [my father’s] absence. I feel a huge emptiness in my heart. My dad is being ripped away from our family.”
“I’m struggling economically and emotionally, but now I have to feed my family and bring food to the table,” she said. “[College graduation is] a dream that we both shared and that I will continue fighting for. I will become the second in my family to graduate from college and I will dedicate my degree to him.”
Eventually the concept of sanctuary cities will likely find its way to the Supreme Court. For now, it is the law in New York City. The policy keeps New Yorkers safe from dangerous felons without creating a wall between the thousands of undocumented aliens and the police department.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has made it clear that New York City is a sanctuary city and that is the law that city employees are expected to follow. Despite being a sanctuary city, unemployment and violent crime in New York are at record lows.
Deporting people like Edisson Barros does make New York even a little safer. Conversely it puts the dedicated people working for the Immigration and Naturalization Service and those working for ICE in the position of being the bad guys as they watch loving parents ripped away from their tearful children.
This event comes hot on the heels of pizza man and undocumented immigrant Pablo Villavicencio’s release after he was detained by ICE in June while attempting to make a delivery to the Fort Hamilton Army Base in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He was released from the Hudson County Correctional Center in Kearny, N.J., in mid-July.
Until a measure of sanity returns to the nation’s immigration policy, we are proud to serve a sanctuary city.
Jack Ryan is a former newspaper reporter and editor and a former public information officer for New York City.
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