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A father deported, kids left behind: Is U.S. immigration policy really this bad?

A father deported, kids left behind: Is U.S. immigration policy really this bad?
Family members ofHugo Medina--wife Guadalupe Medina, center, sons Hugo Medina Jr., 9, left, David Medina, 6, and daughter Andrea Medina, 10--are distraught after he was picked up by federal immigration agents on Aug. 12from his home in Riverside. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times) (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Today's solutions become tomorrow's problems. Never was this more apparent than in the story of nine U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents snatching up the father of three American-born children, leaving them, his wife and his mother behind. The man's crimes were nonviolent; his parents brought him here as a teenager. ("Spurned by local law enforcement, ICE stages elaborate immigration raids," Aug. 15)

How will that family survive with their breadwinner forcibly removed for deportation? The impact of myopic ICE bravado falls squarely on the shoulders of stretched-to-the-limit social service agencies and overburdened schools. Will those traumatized kids feel safe around law enforcement officers? Will they suffer anxiety? Depression? Are they likely to thrive in school?

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Will we ever learn to coordinate our efforts in support of our most vulnerable citizens? Or will we continue to kick the can down the road, damaging the safety and security of our communities and the lives of children for whom it should be our duty to care and protect?

Margaret Martin, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Hugo Medina first broke the law when he came here illegally. Living in the United States, he continued to break the law. After being deported several times, he broke the law to return.

Now his family is in shock and traumatized after the raid. Medina says his whole family is here, and his children pleaded for him not to leave.

My question is, why did Medina place his family in this predicament?

He has no one to blame but himself. I have no pity for him.

Elka Borisovna, Hacienda Heights

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To the editor: It is ironic that ICE talks about how costly it is to conduct manhunts to arrest deportable immigrants. In the bad old days, it could simply call local authorities and ask that an immigrant be held in custody until ICE could pick him or her up.

But a federal judge ruled that practice illegal last year because it violates the 4th Amendment's protection against arrest without a warrant based on probable cause. Holding immigrants without a warrant also leaves local law enforcement liable in civil suits.

The question for ICE is this: Is it more costly to get a warrant or to conduct manhunts? If ICE feels put upon and encumbered by the need to conduct manhunts, it need only follow the Constitution and get a warrant. Local authorities would honor it.

Hector Villagra, San Gabriel

The writer is executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

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To the editor: According to the article, immigrant rights advocates oppose local agencies notifying ICE of a criminal's release from jail because doing so would erode immigrants' trust in police.

What about citizens' trust in the local, state and federal governments? Their primary job is to protect the citizens of this country, a job they are abdicating to harbor criminals who are here illegally.

Additionally, it is idiotic to force ICE to conduct raids on homes and put families at risk. I can see the media vilifying an immigration agent who happens to kill someone during a raid when it all could have been avoided by a single phone call to ICE upon an immigrant's release from jail.

Let's stop protecting the illegal immigrant criminals and get back to protecting citizens.

Jim Toomey, Reseda

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