A Texas Family Lives Divided



Published: 08/09/2012 04:17

(Translation done by Ralph Isenberg)

Dallas, Texas.   Teresa Lopez and her five children are involved in two wars. One war involves, Lorenzo, the oldest son, who fights inAfghanistan for the country that deported his father toMexico one week before he was deployed to the front line. The second war is taking place inDallas,Texas, where Teresa and four of her children live and are faced with the daily struggle to economically survive.Her husband, Jose Lopez, was deported on January 18, 2012. Since the deportation, the family’s life has taken a drastic turn for the worse as they are now dependent on food stamps, other programs of social assistance and are under threat of having their home foreclosed.Teresa, a United States Citizen, has been married to Jose Lopez for 21 years. Her world, as she used to know it, changed in a heartbeat. Teresa says that despite the emotional and economic burden, she fights back with strength and faith for she must keep her family united and hopeful.Teresa works as a secretary at a local community college where she is paid one thousand two hundred dollars a month. Missing is the three thousand dollars a month her husband used to bring home. Jose had worked for the same employer for the last fourteen years. Jose was an outstanding employee and the owner of the company has signed a letter stating he is willing to give Jose his position back immediately when he returns fromMexico. In the meantime, Teresa now must be very creative as she finds ways to control the expenses of her children that live at home with her; Jose Jr. (20 years old), Cristal (15 years old), Gabriel (14 years old)  and Britney (12 years old).Jose Lopez was detained and deported last January while taking his 12 year old daughter, Britney, to the local store to buy some candy. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) confronted Jose in a hostile manner in front of the little girl. Jose was handcuffed and separated from his daughter for nearly an hour before Teresa arrived from work to rescue Britney, who by this time had become hysterical from what she was witnessing.Little did Jose know that this would be his last day of freedom in the United States as he was deported the next day to the city of Juarez, a sister city to El Paso, Texas. “Jose has to watch his back in the most violent city inMexico”, Teresa says.

Teresa reflects back upon the time her oldest son, Lorenzo, was about to be deployed toAfghanistanafter completing boot camp inCalifornia. “Lorenzo was a proud member of the United States Marines Corp and I tried to keep him from finding out what was happening to his dad but he found out, got really mad, and cried a lot because he felt powerless to do anything. Lorenzo was also questioning how he could be asked to go fight for the peace of a foreign nation, when his family no longer enjoyed the same peace he was fighting for”, the mother commented.

Teresa said, sobbing, “My son thought that if he died inAfghanistanhis dad would not be permitted to mourn with the family and his father would be all by himself inMexico. This bothers Lorenzo to this day”.

The family had to also deal with a secret Teresa and Jose had kept from everyone except Lorenzo. Jose was not the biological father of Lorenzo even though Jose was the only father figure the young Marine has ever known. Teresa and Jose married when she was still carrying Lorenzo. “For my husband there’s no difference in our children, he is always praying for the security of Lorenzo because he is at war”, Teresa said. Teresa and Jose decided it was time to tell the other children about their older brother. Lorenzo was very concerned his brothers and sisters would see him differently. His worries would turn out to be unfounded. Teresa wonders aloud, “What else are we going to have to deal with? Is this not enough for one family? We have always tried to do the right thing”.

The deportation of the Jose caused 20 year old Jose Jr. to postpone his pursuit of a college degree and instead look for a temporary job to help his mom make ends meet. “Everything is so overwhelming but I’m trying to be positive”, said Jose Jr. via telephone.

Jose first entered theUnited Statesin 1986 with his parents when he was thirteen years old. The parents applied and received amnesty benefits but for reasons still not fully understood Jose did not qualify for relief even though he was listed on the amnesty petition. Jose married Teresa in 1991. The couple tried to adjust his immigration status to that of a lawful residence in 2005, but their attempt was unsuccessful because Jose had returned to Mexico in 1999 to visit a sick relative and was caught coming back across the border. His visit toMexicolasted less than 48 hours.

Jose Lopez was put into immigration proceeding in 2006. Despite the Government having no objection to the request for adjustment of status, the Immigration Judge ordered Jose deported. Faced with deportation, Jose accepted voluntary removal but did not depart by the required date because his case was under appeal. In a strange happenstance, Jose went to the border ofMexicowhen his mother died and requested permission to leave and return to theUnited States. Customs Border Protection granted the request and Jose was paroled back into theUnited Statesfor a one year period to appeal the removal order. The family was under the false impression that Jose had been inspected and admitted into theUnited Statesto be with his family. Jose Lopez said fromMexico, “I was very surprised when immigration approached me in 2012 and said I was a fugitive alien. I gave immigration my address when I crossed intoMexicoand that address never changed. I never expected to be deported the way I was”. ICE was content to expedite the removal of Jose rather than look at the circumstances of his situation.

The family sought the assistance of theIsenbergCenterfor Immigration Empowerment (ICIE). ICIE is a privately funded immigration clinic that specializes in cases involving extreme family separation and violations of the Constitution of theUnited States. According to ICIE Founder, Ralph Isenberg , “the case of Jose Lopez should not be that complicated in that Jose has no criminal record and is 100% Morton Memo qualified for relief. There is nothing in his immigration record that would count against him in the current mind set of immigration policy”.

ICIE Chief Council, Arturo Rodriguez III, has presented the Office of Chief Council (OCC) of ICE inDallaswith a joint motion to reopen the immigration proceeding inImmigration Court. Rodriguez stated that “Jose could present himself at the border for inspection and be admitted because he was once again in proceedings. There are many reason why a person can be paroled into theUnited Statesincluding being in proceedings and in cases of extreme family separation. We would hope the various agencies of the Department of Homeland Security would want to work with us”.

ICIE Founder, Ralph Isenberg, is less optimistic noting that “ICE has a tendency to want to be very strict on immigrants and they do not apply the same strictness to matters that are in their best interests. Jose was treated like a criminal when he was detained despite the fact that he had no criminal record. ICE had no reason to be abusive and insulting to him. Why an ICE agent would cuss at Jose in Spanish at the time he was detained is beyond me”.

Isenberg repeats the facts of the case to make his point. “It is unquestionable that Jose Lopez has very close bonds to theUnited States. He has been present in theUnited Statesfor twenty six year and married twenty one of those years to a citizen of theUnited States. He has raised five children, all of whom are citizens of theUnited States. His oldest son serves in the United States Marine Corp and he has no criminal record to speak of”, notes Isenberg. “I can think of no better case to test whether the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama is serious about changing policies and operational methods to be more sensitive to immigrants”, Isenberg concludes

The Founder of the ICIE has sought help from the United States Marine Corp, but with no results. Isenberg called the Central Command of the Marines at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. Isenberg reports that he was connected to an officer with the military rank of Major, who rejected his call for help because “the father of Lorenzo was illegal and there was no blood relationship with the young marine who has raised him since his birth”.

“Why is it that theUnited StatesMarine Corp is not supporting the family of an active duty soldier inAfghanistan? Why is it that ICE refuses to intervene to correct this unfair deportation of the father of a young Marine?”,  is questioned aloud by Isenberg.

ICIE organized a protest outside theMarineCorpRecruitingCenterwhere Lorenzo first joined the Marines atWynnewoodVillageShopping CenterinDallas. José Jr. took part in the demonstration carrying a poster encouraging young people not to enlist. Those from ICIE that attended the protest joined Isenberg in referring to the guidelines of the Morton Memo which states military families have priority consideration for immigration relief. A young ICIE volunteer went on to explain “that in this case the father has an approved I-130 petition and no criminal record. I join Mr. Isenberg in hoping Customs Border Protection will permit Mr. Lopez to come home”. Back at the office Isenberg argues that “ICE does not have the authority to admit Jose Lopez back into theUnited States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the power to authorize the return of the father to the country immediately. All it takes is a signature or a call and the error of this deportation can be corrected. Such an action is legal and would not violate the Constitution of United States”.

For Teresa Lopez, who must now figure out how to best support her family, the feeling is very clear. “I am disappointed, hurt and confused because my own country that has my son defending us inAfghanistan, and at the same time taking my husband and the father of my children, a man who has raised our family in this country, has paid taxes on time, and has not committed any crimes. Something has to be wrong with the current immigration laws if it promotes the separation of families and deprives us of a husband and a father”, Teresa concludes.

For the original story in Spanish please click on the link listed below: