A thoughtful opinion piece from AILA South Florida member and past president Tammy Fox-Isicoff ran in the South Florida Sun Sentinel this week. The op-ed discusses the serious consequences of President Obama’s choice to delay immigration reform.

Red Banyan Group client AILA South Florida has become a leading resource for the local and national media on a variety of immigration and immigration law-related issues.

A link to the article and its full text are included below:


Delayed administrative immigration reform has real-life consequences

By Tammy Fox-Isicoff

President Obama’s broken promise of enacting administrative immigration reform by the end of the summer will undoubtedly have dire consequences for countless families in this country.

Contrary to the administration’s assertion that they have targeted “criminal aliens” for deportation, only 1 in 5 of those deported this fiscal year had engaged in any type of criminal activity, and for the most part that activity involved driving offenses, such as driving with a suspended license or without a license. A staggering 80 percent of those deported only committed civil immigration offenses, rather than criminal. In addition, many of those deported are the parents of U.S. citizens and the primary earners in the household, creating a devastating issue for their families left behind.

But what harm will waiting an additional 2-3 months cause? It will inflict serious, life-changing harm on the multitude of individuals who will be deported in the meantime and perhaps permanently separated from their loved ones. In the last 11 months, immigration judges have ordered 82,878 individuals to be deported. This amounts to roughly 9,116 deportations per month. Therefore, by waiting another two months, a jaw-dropping additional 18,233 people will be deported.

Take the case of Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez. A Mexican national married to a U.S. citizen and father to three stepchildren (one of whom suffers from cerebral palsy) and one biological son, Hernandez-Ramirez has lived in this country for more than a decade. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has advised him that he will be deported. Hernandez-Ramirez, employed in nurseries, is the breadwinner in the household. He is also the only one in his family who can physically lift and care for his 25-year-old disabled stepson. Another Mexican immigrant facing imminent deportation is Nora Galvez, the mother of an 8-year-old U.S. citizen son. Galvez makes a living doing what most Americans won’t do, picking and packing apples. She was apprehended by ICE during a routine traffic stop. For Nora’s son and Pedro’s family, a 2-month delay will, at minimum, cause lifelong trauma, and may even prove fatal.

The fact is that many of the individuals illegally in the country hold jobs that need to be filled, but that no U.S. workers will take or would want. Imagine if everyone who is illegally in the U.S. stopped working today. Our country would collapse. Crops would rot in the fields. Americans would have to pay $10 for a head of lettuce. Homes would not be built. American parents would not be able to work because their children and elderly parents would have no one to care for them.

Despite the president’s assertions that ICE will focus on priority cases such as foreigners convicted of serious crimes or caught crossing the border illegally, many foreign nationals who do not fit within these “priorities” and who would benefit from administrative reform will undoubtedly be deported within in the next several months because of the president’s delay. President Obama must reinforce that, given its limited resources, ICE must strategically target those who pose a threat to the security of the U.S. or have been convicted of serious criminal offenses, not mere civil immigration violators. It certainly makes no sense to use our government’s limited resources to deport immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who pose no threat to the security of this country, and hurt their families’ changes of survival by leaving.

Tammy Fox-Isicoff is a past president of the South Florida American Immigration Lawyers Association.