America’s immigration policy is a horror story, and the persistent refusal to reform the law is the scandal of our age. Time and again, families are shattered, dreams are destroyed, and cruel injustices are perpetrated. Yet with the Republican dominated House stubbornly refusing to address the Senate’s reform bill, no relief is in sight.
Usually, when we think of this grotesque nightmare, we think of Hispanics. But the lash falls on others as well.
Consider the case of Jamaican Howard Bailey.
Bailey was brought to the United States as a teenager by his mother, who was a legal immigrant.
He joined the U.S. Navy after graduating from high school in Brooklyn, and served for four years, including engagement in Operation Desert Storm. After the Navy, he built a successful trucking business and bought a home in Virginia.
Now, at the age of 43, he is raising pigs back in Jamaica (photo above). His wife and two teen-aged children a son and a daughter – are in America.
Bailey was deported.
Early on the morning of June 10, 2010, state troopers rousted him out of bed, handcuffed him and took him off to jail.
The reason? A marijuana-related guilty plea 15 years earlier. Bailey had admitted the felony on his application for citizenship in 2005.
He spent the next two years detained in immigration facilities around the country as he fought deportation proceedings. In May 2012, he was deported to Jamaica, leaving his wife and children behind.
His home in America has been foreclosed on. His wife blames him for ruining her life. His children are estranged. He is struggling to keep his Jamaican pig farm. And his mother and all of his close relatives are far away – in America.
Bailey admits he made “a stupid mistake” He says he was transporting a package for a friend, and didn’t know its contents. Police were tracking the package and when they pulled him over, there it was on the front seat of his car.
Bailey paid for his mistake with 15 months behind bars. He paid his debt to society. He is being punished again for the same offense.
But the law is the law, and America’s immigration law is brutally unfair.
Bailey’s case is not unique: Thousands of military veterans are routinely deported to countries around the globe. Some came to America illegally, brought her by their parents. Others, like Bailey, came here legally but have violated a provision of the immigration law.
Nobody would argue that the status quo is acceptable, but in the current political climate immigration reform looks like an impossible dream.
Unless the voters decide to do something about it. They will get that opportunity in a few months as voters get a chance to rid the country of the obstructionist Republicans in Congress.