Immigrant Stories from Miami

March 3, 2016 6:27 am
by David Jakeman

There is only so much an undocumented immigrant to the United States can control. Even if they work hard and stay out of trouble, there is always the fear in the back of their minds that they could be deported. Such fears can only be greater when one has family and they’re afraid they might not make it back to their house. So in the wake of the Obama administration’s recent step up in deportations, there are increased fears of deportation, especially in an immigrant-rich city like Miami.

Story of Detainment

As fears increase, even the most seasoned Miami immigration attorney has a hard time calming down clients. Detention stories do little to help undocumented immigrants feel safe, but they are important for understanding the plight of so many members of society. Take the story of one Miami man, who immigrated from Huehuetenango, Guatemala, came to the United States to escape gang violence.
Five years ago, he was with his brothers and some friends eating dinner after a long day of work in plant nurseries in the Miami area. Suddenly, a loud knock came at the door—the type of knock that undocumented immigrants dread. Through the peephole, they could see that there was an officer and a woman in plain clothes.

Through the Door

The officer demanded that they open up the door or it would not end well. The undocumented immigrant opened up the door a crack but lost his grip as the officer forced his way through. The officer grabbed his shirt and threw him to the ground, filling him with terror. His shirt was ripped in the process, and he was dumbfounded to be treated so harshly by a police officer.

This man, and his brothers, have had clean records and worked many years in the United States contributing to the national economy. These are not the type of immigrants that Obama said he was going to prioritize for deportation. But they, like nearly 6,000 others, are awaiting government action on their cases.1

Miami immigration attorneys have long known that their city is friendlier to immigrants, especially undocumented ones. But there is only so much a city can do to protect its citizens when the federal government comes calling. On the federal level, there is so much policy up in the air. Everyone is still waiting until spring to know how the Supreme Court is going to rule on Obama’s effort for deferred action for 5 million people.

Such a program would allow for working permits to millions of undocumented immigrants. But Obama’s plan might not come soon enough for those waiting deportation from Miami. The instability and uncertainty certainly is one of the most difficult things for undocumented immigrants. Hopefully a workable solution for immigrants in the United States will come about soon.

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