Last Month Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt said that he was sorry that the law prevented the court from stepping in to block the deportation of a Mexican immigrant who has lived in the United States since he was 15 years of old. Immigrant Andres Magana Ortiz had been granted prosecutoral discretion in 2014 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allowing him to live and work in the U.S. rather than being deported. The new Trump administration stripped him of that protection and began its efforts to deport him. While the Trump administration describes its new deportation policy as targeting gang members and criminals, Andres Magana Ortiz is a law-abiding man.
Judge Reinhardt wrote in his concurring opinion that “We are compelled to deny Mr. Magana Ortiz’s request for a stay of removal because we do not have the authority to grant it. We are not, however, compelled to find the government’s action in this case fair or just.” The judge tallied up the human cost of the new deportation policy:
“The government’s insistence on expelling a good man from the country in which he has lived for the past 28 years deprives his children of their right to be with their father, his wife of her right to be with her husband, and our country of a productive and responsible member of our community. Magana Ortiz, who first entered the United States at 15, is now 43 years old, and during his almost three decades here has raised a family and built a successful life. All of his children, ages 12, 14, and 20, were born in this country and are American citizens, as is his wife. His eldest daughter currently attends the University of Hawaii, and he is paying for her education…In his time in this country Magana Ortiz has built a house, started his own company, and paid his taxes.”
Although Mr. Magana Ortiz’s U.S. Citizen wife had an immigration petition for her husband pending before DHS, ICE had decided to deport him immediately rather than wait to adjudicate her supplication. In doing so the judge wrote, “the government forces us to participate in ripping apart a family.”
Judge Stephen Reinhardt described the stark decisions the family will have to make. “Three United States citizen children will now have to choose between their father and their country. If they leave their homeland with their father, the children would be forced to move to a nation with which they have no connection. All three children were born in the United States; none has ever lived in Mexico or learned Spanish. Moving with their father would uproot their lives, interrupt their educations, and deprive them of the opportunities afforded by growing up in this country. If they remain in the United States, however, the children would not only lose a parent, but might also be deprived of their home, their opportunity for higher education, and their financial support. Subjecting vulnerable children to a choice between expulsion to a foreign land or losing the care and support of their father is not how this nation should treat its citizens.”
“President Trump has claimed that his immigration policies would target the “bad hombres.” The government’s decision to remove Magana Ortiz shows that even the “good hombres” are not safe,” wrote the judge. “It is difficult to see how the government’s decision to expel him is consistent with the President’s promise of an immigration system with “a lot of heart,”” he concluded, “I find no such compassion in the government’s choice to deport Magana Ortiz.”