Why is the Obama administration ripping a Northern California mom away from her four children – even though she was the victim of a violent crime?
We are rallying behind a mom named Rosa whom San Francisco-based Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have wrongfully separated from her family for nearly two months. This same office, has the power to use Prosecutorial Discretion— to reunite Rosa with her family.
Rosa, a farmworker, works hard in the hot fields to provide a better life for her children. She lives in Modesto, but her case has inspired support across California.
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On April 29, Rosa was placed in ICE custody at the Yuba County Jail. She was automatically separated from her 4 U.S. citizen children, two of whom are minors and depend on her for emotional and financial support.
When Rosa called us from the facility, it only took us a couple of minutes to discover she had actually been the victim of a crime many years ago.
When Rosa first came to the U.S. she endured many incidents of physical, sexual, and mental abuse. One day, her partner placed a knife on Rosa’s neck threatening to kill her.
When the incident happened her five year old daughter, desperate to save her life, picked up the phone and called the police. During the investigation, Rosa cooperated with the police, and her testimony led to the arrest and conviction of the person who abused her.
She entrusted law enforcement with her case; however, in the over 20 years that she has been in this country, nobody explained to her that she was eligible for protection from deportation.
In fact, Rosa is eligible for immigration relief made available to victims of certain crimes: a U-Visa.
A key requirement for the U-Visa is certification from law enforcement that the victim was helpful in the investigation. After getting off the phone with Rosa, we contacted the Los Angeles Police Department (Rosa was living in LA when this happened) right away – and quickly received this certification.
But 7 weeks later, ICE still won’t let Rosa go. She is still locked up.
And ICE wants to deport her — even though it is long-standing policy of the federal government not to deport victims or witnesses of crimes.
Now Rosa, her daughters, and the immigrant community are standing up to fight for her release.
ICE will cynically say that Rosa should be deported because she is not perfect, and has had a few encounters with the law. But she has served her time, and rather than exclude people who’ve had contact with an often-unjust criminal justice system from our circle of care, we should embrace them.
Hundreds of people agree and have added their signatures to an on-line petition in just a few days. Even Rosa has thanked and asked the public to continue to demand ICE for her release.
Will ICE do the right thing?