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|7/15: Undocumented Immigrants in Trump's America Now Deported After Running Red Lights(2)
Released 20 August 2017  By Erin Banco - Newsweek
Undocumented Immigrants in Trump's America Now Deported After Running Red Lights
Erin Banco - Newsweek
July 15, 2017
(CONTINUE FROM PART ONE)
....The increase has been particularly dramatic in the mid-Atlantic region,
where Palacios lives. The detention rate of undocumented immigrants
without criminal records in Philadelphia, which has jurisdiction over
Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia, is six times higher than
during the same period in 2016.
That shift has directly impacted immigrants like Palacios. Now 27, he
left Honduras for the U.S. at 16 in hopes of making money for his
family. He worked odd jobs for a few months in Mexico before crossing
the border to America in 2006, where he was caught and transferred to a
detention facility in Texas for unaccompanied minors. He says the
government got in touch with his cousin, who had married an American
citizen in Philadelphia, and he went to live with them, attend high
school and get his immigration status sorted.
But in his senior year of high school in 2008, he missed a court date
related to his immigration status —he was busy with school, working
late, and sleeping four hours a night after making the last train home.
At 17, it just didn’t seem worth it. “I was young,” he says. As a result
of the missed hearing, the judge in charge of his case issued an order
of deportation. From then on, he would have to stay working in the U.S.
Palacios graduated high school, attended college, got a job and married
Lillie Williams, an American citizen who works at an education tech
company, in 2014. He couldn’t get a green card through marriage because
the process was complicated by his deportation order.
This past October, Williams filed an I-130—the paper a U.S. citizen must
submit to the government to establish a relationship with a relative who
wants to immigrate to the U.S., a move that the couple believes may have
triggered ICE to start looking for Palacios.
When he arrived at York County Prison this past May, Palacios met dozens
of other men whom ICE had rounded up at the same time. The majority of
them, he says, had no criminal record. Hundreds of undocumented
immigrants were detained in the Philadelphia area in April and May. He
made friends, most of them from Latin America or countries farther away,
like Somalia. “A lot of them didn’t have lawyers,” Palacios says.
York County Prison includes a separate wing for ICE detainees, but it
filled up quickly, and Palacios and the others had to move in with the
criminal prisoners. Behind bars for one month until his bail hearing,
Palacios says he took care of another immigrant—a mentally ill
22-year-old man who couldn't feed himself. In the afternoon, he took
naps on his bunk, often waking up to see a line of men waiting for the
nurse. He says almost all of them had "fungus bubbles" on the back of
their heads from contaminated water. Palacios slept on what he called a
“thinner than rug” mattress. But none of that compared to the fear he
felt during the middle of the night. That’s when officers would come
into the cell and snatch ICE detainees from their bed before deporting
them back to their home country. "Now, every night,” he says, “I wake up
at 3 a.m.”
At Palacios’s bond hearing on June 15, he and his lawyer pleaded over
teleconference to the judge in Virginia that he should be let out
because he is not a threat to his community. The judge set bail for
$4,000. When Palacios heard he would get out on bail, he was still
anxious. There is no guarantee that he will be able to stay in the
country, though his lawyer and advocacy group contacts say he has a good
chance. They point to things like the fact he has no criminal record, he
came to the country when he was an unaccompanied minor, and that he
comes from a notoriously dangerous country where his family was often
For now, Palacios is learning how to re-adjust to living at home. He
plans to go back to work, and to continue following up with his
immigration case, fighting deportation. He and his wife will have to
file more paperwork. Meanwhile, they have yet to hear back on their
I-130 application, which would begin the process of his becoming a legal
citizen. He also has a pending asylum case—which often takes a long time
to process. An applicant must go through several rounds of interviews
and prove that he or she needs to stay in this country because return to
their home would place them in imminent danger.
Both Palacios and Williams know the path will be long, but they are
determined. “At this point, I am just happy I am home,” he says.
“Everything else I can deal with. Just being here with Lillie is all
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