It’s taken Maria, a Mexican immigrant, a decade to build a life in the United States. Now a single arrest after a fight with her boyfriend could force her to abandon him and their children.
“All these years I’ve just been taking care of my kids, working and going home,” Maria said, sobbing in between sips of coffee at a North Austin café.
Like thousands of other undocumented immigrants, Maria — who asked that I not use her last name because of her immigration status — was nabbed through the Secure Communities Program of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency that enforces immigration laws, and now faces deportation. The program is meant to weed out dangerous criminal immigrants who are in the country illegally. Through agreements with law enforcement agencies, ICE identifies undocumented immigrants in local lockups and processes them for deportation. The goal, ICE says, is to get rapists, murderers and the like out of the country as quickly as possible.