Jorge has lived in the United States for 30 years. He has a wife, a family and a steady job. He was brought here illegally at 10 years old and applied for a green card over 10 years ago but did not receive it.
Though he attempted to live in this country legally and is married to an American citizen, he has not yet been able to fully navigate the lengthy process to legal citizenship.
Yesterday, he was deported.
This is the true story of Jorge Garcia of Lincoln Park, Mich., as reported by the New York Times. While his story is sad and hits close to home due to his proximity to us here at the university, his story is not unique.
In the past year, under the Trump administration, immigration numbers from all countries have gone up, according to NPR.
What makes this interesting is twofold: President Donald Trump has increased immigration in countries that, historically, have had very low levels of deportation, and a high number of cases have been in the works for many years but are just now being pushed to deportation.
Haiti is the most notable country whose immigration spiked. In 2016, 300 Haitians were deported, but that number jumped to more than 5,500 last year, according to NPR.
Secondly, cases like Garcia's are becoming much more common. It has been common practice in Immigration and Customs Enforcement to practice discretion in cases to avoid prosecuting and deporting citizens when it is clear that they are working toward legal citizenship.
The actions of ICE under Trump and the spike in numbers shows a clear change in policy for this administration.
Simply put, this means that anyone in the United States who was brought here as a child, who does what they are supposed to and attempts to navigate the unnecessarily difficult task of becoming a citizen, is still at risk.
They can be deported back to a country that they have no memory of, let alone ability to live in, and leave behind their whole lives.
That means anyone: your next door neighbor, the guy who owns the grocery store, your best friend’s dad or even a member of your own family. And they are being deported in higher numbers than ever before.
Does that piss you off? Because it pisses us off. That doesn’t mean we’re angry, or think it’s unjust, but we find this atrocity so extensive that it literally just pisses us off.
But what can we do? What can any of us do?
We at the University of Toledo are lucky to have a college president who openly supports immigrants, DACA recipients and is outspoken about her intention to protect all UT students.
However, Willie McKether, VP of diversity and inclusion, said it best in a previous IC article: “We need to obey the law, but we also stand by our students. We need to be flexible enough as an institution to pivot and make adjustments as necessary because we understand the commitment we have.”
The federal government still has jurisdiction over states when it comes to immigration, and the University of Toledo is a public institution, making all documents public record.
To follow the law, if UT were to face the possible deportation of a student, faculty, staff or community member, it would have to step aside.
In a recent interview with The Independent Collegian, President Gaber said she was recently in Washington, D.C. meeting with Ohio senators. She spoke with them and said, “Dreamers are important to us, and we want them to be able continue their education here and we want your support with that.”
She said that the delegation seemed supportive, but “the question is, in the scheme of national politics, where that falls out.”
The only way to battle this issue it to vote. Vote for representatives on both the local and national levels who have made clear their commitment to protecting everyone in this country.
It’s the only way we can come together as a nation to say enough is enough.