Photo: Rep. Luis Gutierrez in South Carolina
Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D- IL) escorted Mr. Gabino Sanchez to his first supervisory meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in Charleston, South Carolina this week to ask federal immigration authorities to close Mr. Sanchez’ case and to address the cases of two other South Carolina residents facing deportation.
A 13-year resident of Ridgeland, South Carolina and the father of two U.S. citizens, Mr. Sanchez is facing deportation after a local traffic stop led to his identification to federal authorities.
Rep. Gutierrez went to South Carolina personally because Mr. Sanchez’ case is precisely the type of case that he feels should be administratively closed under new deportation guidelines that target serious criminals as a priority for deportation. After the meeting with ICE officials and the Congressman, Mr. Sanchez was released on his own recognizance and joined his family. To ensure that administrative closure is granted for Mr. Sanchez, Rep. Gutierrez made plans to follow-up with the ICE general counsel in Atlanta who can grant administrative closure to Mr. Sanchez at or before his March 13, 2012 court date.
South Carolina recently passed SB20, a stringent anti-immigrant law aimed at criminalizing illegal presence and making it more likely that contact with local police will result in deportation for immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Although the South Carolina law does not go into effect until January 2012, Mr. Sanchez’s case is the type of minor traffic stop the South Carolina law is designed to lead to deportation once the law is implemented.
Rep. Gutierrez has led the national effort to push the Obama Administration to reexamine their deportation policies in the wake of a record number, almost 400,000 people, deported by President Obama in the past year. This summer, ICE and the Department of Homeland Security announced new deportation prioritization guidelines that would ensure that a higher percentage of those 400,000 deportees would be serious criminals and not law-abiding immigrants with deep roots and family in the U.S.
Mr. Sanchez was likely a target of racial profiling when he was stopped this month by local police who had set up a traffic stop outside a predominantly Hispanic mobile home community. Despite having no prior contact with immigration authorities, ICE placed a hold on him and initiated deportation proceedings.
He was released five days after his arrest under an order of supervision and awaits his court date.