Observations April 14, 2011, Katie Deibert

R-3, woman from Mexico, represented by counsel and used interpreter. R was going to attempt to seek a U-Visa but instead requested voluntary departure. R born 1973, entered the US in 1996, married with five children (ages 17, 13, 12, 11 and 8, all but the 17yo born in the US), works at a restaurant, has been in Bloomington for 15 years, mother-in-law and sister-in-law have status. R has several convictions for retail theft of food and clothing. Govt attorney expressed concern that with such strong ties, R is likely to attempt to re-enter the US. J recognized R’s close relationship with her children, long time in the community and the fact that her crimes were those of necessity and granted the voluntary departure.

This was extremely sad and frustrating to sit through. The judge came to the “best” decision by granting voluntary departure and not ordering R removed, but it was a powerful example of the deep flaws in the immigration system. R was very emotional when she spoke to the judge, and the thought of these children either growing up without their mother or having to move to a country foreign to them was heartbreaking. R was stealing food to feed her children, and this is the result? I don’t know what the family will do since the children who are citizens are ages 13 – 8, and they won’t be old enough to help their parents and oldest sibling gain status for a number of years. There is also the question of what happens to the 17yr old who was born in Mexico but has been in the US since age two. Again, very sad on so many levels and it affected me more than other cases I have seen in my visits.


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