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Rally to Stop Deportation of Israel Resendiz

J.Smith/El Hispano

Philadelphia –   In the midst the legal, economic and political polemics surrounding the issue of immigration, the voices of 9-year old Caitlin and 3-year old Ariana Resendiz, both U.S. citizens by birth, have little standing and are scarcely heard by courts and decision makers.

    At a rally at the 16th and Callowhill offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), some twenty supporters of Israel Resendiz joined Caitlin and her mother, Pilar Molina, in calling for the release -pending a hearing- of  her father, the man she says is “the best dad in the world.”    

  “I don’t understand” why immigration officials think “he is a flight risk,”said an exasperated Pilar, the wife of Israel Resendiz. “But I’m doing everything I can so that he can come home to us.”

  Israel Resendiz Hernandez is an undocumented immigrant who made the mistake of trying to return to his homeland in Queretaro, Mexico, to attend the funeral of his Father.  On his first attempt to come back to his family in Norristown, the father of two daughters and owner of a corner grocery store was arrested in Arizona by border patrols and returned to Mexico.

  Desperate to get back to wife and children, he made another and this time successful border crossing in November, and immediately made his way to his family.  Local immigration agents, aware of Resendiz’s return, apprehended him on the night of January 27th, as he and his wife were closing their Chain Street store.

    In an effort to gain legal status through a pleading before a federal immigration judge, Resendiz’s attorney Thomas Griffin is appealing based on a “reasonable fear,”  an argument that says Mr. Resendiz will face “human rights” violations if forced to return to Mexico.

  While Mr. Resendiz is ineligible for Asylum -due to multiple border crossings- the attorney explained that the questionable death of his father, the shooting of his brother by noted gang members and other related  threats, are a substantial argument for the court to recognize his “reasonable fear.”

   “The U.S. government cannot deport any person, even if he had a prior immigration (law) violation, if they express a fear of human rights violations, persecution and torture,” said Mr. Griffin.

   He is like other “refugees” or those seeking asylum, said Mr. Griffin, afraid to go home because he will likely be killed.

    Local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have denied a request to release Mr. Resendiz so he can better prepare his immigration case, and also work and care for his family. ICE officials contend that he is a “danger to the community” and a “flight risk.”

   The latter argument is based on multiple border crossings, and the former on a 2005 DUI charge that was subsequently expunged when Resendiz went  through a rehabilitation program.

    Attorney Griffin dismissed ICE’s explanation as “suspect and illogical.”

   “Israel has no reason not to attend his hearing, (because) by attending and passing, that is the only way he can lawfully stay in the United States with his family.”

   “ICE knows more than anyone that he only crossed the border to go to one place, and that is to be with his family in Norristown,” added Mr. Griffin.

    “Asylum claims based on gang threats are currently a pretty complex and contested area of the law,” Temple University Law Professor Jaya Ramji-Nogales told El Hispano.

 “Withholding of removal, the alternate status for which (Resendiz) is eligible,” explained Professor Ramji-Nogales, “requires that the applicant meet a ‘more likely than not’ standard of proof – in other words, they they establish a 51% likelihood of being harmed by gang members based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.”

   “It sounds silly to measure potential harm in percentages, but that’s what courts do.”

 In 2008 alone, an estimated 340,000 babies were born in the United States to undocumented immigrants, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.  Moreover, according to the Applied Research Center, a racial justice think tank, the children of these “mixed-status” families -like the Resendiz children- are living with the daily “threat” of the deportation of one or both parents.

    The Dean of the School of Social Work at the University of  of Texas, Dr. Luis Zayas, stressed the impact of deportation on U.S. citizen children left behind: “The psychological effects on the children left behind include depression, possible conduct disorders and having a constant sense of diminishing and ambiguous future.”

  “No parent should be put through such an anguishing decision of whether or not to leave a child behind,” adds Dr. Zayas. “But more importantly, (is) how these kids feel about their government when they grow up.”