The very different faces of deportation - IMMIGRATION | One's a dying mom, another the driver in a deadly DUI crash
BY NATASHA KORECKI Staff Reporteremail@example.com
Copyright by The Chicago Sun Times
April 29, 2007
Deportations can break hearts. And they can bust brutal criminals.
For Maria Carrillo, who is terminally ill, deportation might bring death more quickly.
• Faces of deportation
For Javier Rico, deportation will be retribution for killing a young mother in a DUI crash.
Carrillo is in her last stage of fighting expulsion. Rico will be kicked out of the country after serving an eight-year prison term. Most of the nearly 7,000 people deported last year from the Midwest are from the Chicago area. Carrillo and Rico are two of the faces of deportation.
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Doctors told Maria Carrillo she has less than two years to live. But that's only if she stays on schedule with treatment for terminal colon cancer. As Carrillo's family deals with the prospect of her death, they struggle with another big concern, one that tens of thousands of people in the United States face each year: They are about to be deported.
Having nearly exhausted their efforts in a Chicago court to stay in the United States, the Carrillos could be sent back to a small town in Guanajuato, Mexico, by summer, ending the mother's medical treatments here.
"For us, this is very difficult," said Carillo's daughter Maria Elizabeth, 15, fighting tears. "If we are sent back to Mexico, we won't be able to do this. It is different there. We don't even know how we would get her treatments. We just ask for more time. We just ask that someone help her stay here longer."
Maria Carrillo, 45, is undergoing chemotherapy at a university hospital where her family has worked out a payment plan. If forced to leave, her family fears she'll die in months because of a lack of similar care in Mexico.
An immigration judge already has extended the case so many times that their next hearing, in Chicago in June, could be the family's last before being kicked out, according to their lawyer, Julie O'Grady.
"If her chemo is stopped," O'Grady said, "she'll die within six months."
The lawyer said immigration officials could use some discretion in this case, given the circumstances, but won't.
"It is outrageous," O'Grady said. "They have the power to administratively close these cases for humanitarian reasons. If this isn't the case, what is?"
Like others who enter the United States illegally, the Carrillos knew they were taking a risk six years ago when they came from Mexico.
Now, they are paying the price. Every member of the Carrillo family, who live in Indiana, will be sent back. Among them: Daniel Carrillo, 17, a star on his high school soccer team. The youngest, Cristian, 8, who doesn't speak Spanish well. And Maria Elizabeth, who at 15 carries the burden of being family spokeswoman, translator and coordinator of doctors and lawyers.
Just like more than 4,200 illegal immigrants in the Midwest last year, the Carrillos were among the non-criminals who were found out. But the way they were discovered is part of the tale of illegal immigration. Carrillo's two oldest sons were part of a fraudulent-document scheme investigated by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE. The two were deported in 2003.
"ICE showed a great deal of compassion toward Maria due to her medical condition and her responsibility as a caregiver to three young children," ICE spokeswoman Gail Montenegro said. "This family has been treated with compassion, has been afforded due process, and now the case is in the hands of an impartial immigration judge who will make the final determination."
Such cases are on the rise in the Midwest. In 2004, fewer than 3,400 people who were not criminals were deported from the Midwest region, compared with about 4,275 non-criminal deportations in 2006. That's a 26 percent increase. Overall deportations -- criminals and non-criminals -- are up, too, with a 10 percent jump in the Midwest in 2006 compared with 2004.
Immigrant families here illegally face a dilemma if one family member is discovered: Take a chance and stay, or return to their native country.
Jose Luis Delatorres, who has a 4-year-old son, now faces that decision. His wife, Maricela Samano, was among the 17 people arrested at Cano Packaging, an Arlington Heights candy warehouse, in March. Samano, who did not have legal work papers, is on track to be sent back to a rural town in the Mexican state of Michoacan.
Like many Mexican families who come here, the promise of a better economy drew Delatorres and Samano to the Chicago suburbs a decade ago. In Mexico, Delatorres said he couldn't find work to support his family. Here, an hour's salary is more than he could make in a day in Mexico, he said. Now, Delatorres, who lives in Palatine, said he'll likely return to Mexico with his son to join his wife -- and watch the life he has built for 10 years crumble.
"All our dreams are gone. We cannot be a family separated," Delatorres said. "We came to this country to work. We came here to find a new life. We aren't bad people. We came from a place where there is no life, there is no way to make a life for a family. Everything we've built is destroyed. All of our dreams have been destroyed."
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David Gorak has a different view of the issue. For Gorak, executive director of the Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration, deportations don't happen fast enough or often enough. The only way to maintain an immigration policy is to enforce the law, Gorak said. Those who complain their families are being torn apart have themselves to blame, he said.
"The federal government isn't breaking up anyone's family," Gorak said. "The sole responsibility lies with the individual who made the conscious decision to violate our laws.What kind of person would knowingly subject their child to the trauma that one can expect in the wake of an immigration raid? If you're looking for sympathy, there is none on our part."
Rosanna Pulido, director of the Illinois Minuteman Project, points to cases of illegal immigrants who break up families when they commit crimes. If it weren't for one illegal immigrant, Javier Rico, Pulido said, a young mother would still be alive.
"Let's talk about American families being separated," Pulido said.
Rico, living in Hanover Park, already faced a DUI charge when he was driving drunk in Hoffman Estates last year. Police said he was speeding and driving without headlights when he slammed into another car, killing 28-year-old Patricia Henneken, who had an 8-year-old son. Rico, now 26, had a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal standard for drunk driving.
He'll face deportation after an eight-year prison sentence.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement had a record year in 2006, deporting 189,670 illegal immigrants -- up 12 percent over the previous year. Nationally, more than 60 percent of those deported last year were from Mexico.
Still, the number of people deported pales in comparison with the estimated 12 million foreign nationals living in the United States, according to the Pew Hispanic Research Foundation.
Tens of thousands of those deported in 2006 alone were criminals. In a two-week span this year, ICE agents in Chicago deported criminals to India for aggravated criminal sexual abuse, to Lithuania for aggravated assault, to Nairobi for drug charges, to Barbados for murder and to Ivory Coast for battery. Criminals are taken to their home countries daily on commercial flights.
Few dispute expelling a violent criminal. What's more controversial are workplace raids. And those are growing more frequent.
In 2002, just 25 criminal arrests and 485 total arrests were carried out at work sites nationwide. Those numbers continued to go up every year. In 2006, they rose to nearly 3,700 total arrests.
The raids aren't random, immigration officials say. They're the result of long-planned criminal investigations, targeted at employers. But any workers who lack proper legal papers and are found on site are swept up, too, on administrative -- not criminal -- charges.
ICE's Chicago area sector recently stepped up efforts against employers who hire illegal immigrants. When those raids happen, agents aren't allowed to choose whom they arrest, said Peter Fahey, a group supervisor in the Chicago ICE office.
"We're fact-finders," said Fahey. "We don't take things personally. We're not allowed to. The main focus is going after the employer who is egregiously violating the law."
But when ICE moves in on a factory or restaurant, anyone who doesn't have proper documentation is arrested.
"We can't look the other way," Fahey said. "When we come across someone, it's a judge who decides that outcome. That's how we try to stay on a level playing field."
Cano Packaging, where Delatorres' wife works, was among recent targets. Cano hasn't been charged criminally. But court documents say ICE was probing whether Cano "was knowingly employing large numbers of undocumented Hispanic aliens not entitled to lawfully work in the United States."
One of the people arrested that day was 19-year-old Hector Trujillo. Trujillo, who is about to be deported, was raised with Mexican traditions and culture. But he hasn't been in Mexico since his family brought him here when he was 2 years old.
"He doesn't even know the country," said his mother, Romelia Trujillo. "He doesn't have anything there."
Trujillo is a Palatine High School graduate who most recently attended classes at Harper College while working full-time at Cano Packaging.
"He wasn't one of these boys in the streets," his mother said. "He never had problems with the police. They have him in a jail cell like he's some kind of criminal."
Trujillo is an example of the human consequences of deportations, said Cesar Romero, an official with the Mexican Consulate in Chicago. Over the last several months, families have poured in to his office, often in hysterics, after their family members were arrested at work, Romero said.
"All the women were very scared," he said. "They wondered about the children, they were in school, they were alone. When you look at the human side -- they call it collateral damage -- it's horrible."
Gorak disagrees. "You break the law," he said, "you pay."