President Obama’s decision to delay taking executive action on immigration this past September affected millions of hardworking people and their families. Like many of us who were disappointed in the House Republican leadership’s failure on immigration, we were expecting President Obama to act, particularly after he said in a Rose Garden ceremony on June 30 that he would fix as much of the immigration system as he could on his own. Millions of families were also waiting to hear what the president would do to provide relief. But for many of those immigrants, the president’s decision to delay taking action on immigration meant the difference between staying with their families in the United States and being deported to their countries of origin, often after having lived in the United States for several years.
One such individual is Javier Flores, whose story was featured in The Washington Post this past weekend. For Flores, a 31-year-old factory worker who most recently resided in Akron, Ohio, the president’s decision to delay action meant deportation.
From The Washington Post:
In June, he had watched on TV as President Obama promised he would stop deporting certain kinds of illegal immigrants by the end of summer. The president and his staff said they would bypass Congress by issuing an executive action to help people with clean criminal records and American-citizen children — people like Javier. “This means you!” an immigration advocate had written to him, and even though Javier had already been ordered deported he believed his miracle had come. He would be able to stay with his children, ages 10, 7, 4 and 9 months. He would be able to keep his job at the window factory, where he managed 30 people and paid $850 in U.S. taxes each month. “A perfect case,” the advocate wrote again, and all Javier had to do was wait for Obama to say the things he had promised to say.
But then July turned into August, and August turned into September, and Obama decided it was more politically prudent to delay his executive action until after November’s midterm elections. So instead of being offered his reprieve, Javier was sent back to the poorest state in Mexico, where the advocate had sent him one final note. “Sorry,” it read. “Terrible timing.”
Up until his deportation back to La Mixtequita, Mexico, a village with fewer than 1,000 residents, no mail service, no Internet service, and no work, Flores had lived 13 years in Ohio. His family, a wife and four children, are all still in Ohio. His youngest child is unable to comprehend why she has not seen her father for almost a month. Indeed, Flores’s deportation was hard for even his relatives in Mexico to understand. It is baffling how a routine traffic stop could turn into deportation for someone who has lived in and contributed to his community for so many years.
For now, Flores spends his days sometimes harvesting limes in a small orchard, but mostly contemplating his next steps, mulling over an attempt to return to Ohio, desperate for any solution that will reunite him with his family that needs him so sorely. It’s a heartbreaking and unfortunate situation that could have been averted had Congress or the president done the hard work necessary to finally bring some sanity back to our immigration system. There are millions of others who could avoid the same fate when President Obama makes a big and bold announcement after the midterm elections.