immigration law


President Donald Trump said he wanted to go after “bad hombres,” but his immigration policies affect more than just those who are here and have committed crimes. Undocumented immigrants with no criminal history are also being deported. That's the case with a Michigan father of four who's been told he has to leave the country by the end of the month. 

Families caught in middle of "broken" immigration system

Aug 10, 2016
woman in blue shirt
Courtesy of Susan Reed

Politicians proclaim it. People argue about it. We hear it often:  "Our immigration system is broken."

But what exactly does that mean?

That’s a tough question to answer.

The U.S. immigration system is a complex and often confusing web of policies. Those policies touch everyone from the migrant farm worker to international Ph.D students. For years now, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have called for an overhaul of our immigration system.

Five undocumented workers from Kim's Garden were living in the basement of the owner's home when they were killed in a house fire.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

In January of 2016, a house fire killed five young men in the basement of a Novi home owned by Roger Tam and Ada Lei. They were later found to be undocumented workers from Mexico who were living there while employed at the couple's Chinese restaurant, Kim's Garden.

woman speaks in front of crowd
Courtesy of Sarahi Nieves

The following is a transcript of the State of Opportunity documentary Out From the Shadows: Living Undocumented, which you can hear at 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. today.

Sarahi Nieves’ parents brought her to the U.S. when she was 7. She didn’t have papers, but she grew up here. Then she had a son, a U.S. citizen. And she had to explain what it means to be undocumented in America.

“How can you tell a four-year-old, if we don’t do this, if we don’t go through this, we might be taken apart?” she said.

Wikimedia Commons

By now you've seen the images. Millions of refugees fleeing war zones in Syria and Iraq, trying desperately to reach a new life anywhere else. And the photo yesterday of a small boy, lying limp on a beach, drowned while trying to escape with his family. 

This boy's family, NPR reported, had applied to legally immigrate to Canada. 

"They had applied for legal migration to Canada because the father's sister was living in Canada," said Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch. "And they were denied. So their only option to join their relatives in Canada was to put their lives in the hands of the smugglers."

Canadian immigration officials, meanwhile, deny they ever received an application for asylum. They only received an application for the boys' uncle, and it was sent back. 

But local Canadian MP Fin Donnelly told the CBC he personally delivered an asylum request for the boy and his family to the immigration minister:

"It was terrible and obviously action was needed," he said. "That's why I agreed to do what I could, including personally talking to the minister about her case."

Donnelly said his office pushed as hard as his staff could to learn more, but received no response. The result is "utter frustration and devastation," he said.

Many have wondered how this death, and so many others, can be allowed to happen, when the need for help is so obvious. But it's not exactly surprising to find such bureaucracy and confusion behind an immigrant's application for asylum. Immigration law, in many countries, was created specifically to keep out war refugees.