In June 2011 the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Morton, issued a “prosecutorial discretion memorandum” regarding the deportation of undocumented immigrants. Under the new guidelines, officials, agents, and supervisors of ICE, Home Land Security Investigation, and Enforcement and Removal Operation, have the power to release immigrants from detention and stop their deportation. “Low-priority removal cases” that “warrant particular care” include immigrants without criminal records and those who have long-standing ties to the United States, such as minors, parents (regardless of gender or sexual identity), pregnant or nursing mothers, members of the armed services, and disabled individuals.
Lourdes Salazar Bautista, a Mexican mother with no criminal record, has resided in Michigan for fourteen years, raising her three U.S.-born children, ages seven, nine, and thirteen. As a child, Lourdes’ father, a migrant worker, told her hopeful stories of the opportunities available north of the border. To “fulfill a dream my father instilled in me” Lourdes states, she immigrated to the U.S. in 1997 to join her husband, Luis Quintana. In the last decade, Lourdes started her own cleaning business, purchased her own home, and paid property taxes. She has also raised a family, and has earned the respect of the Ann Arbor community through her regular participation in her children’s public school activities, and her contributions to Saint Mary’s Student Parish. Lourdes fulfills all the requirements for prosecutorial discretion. And yet two days after Christmas, on December 27th, Lourdes is to be deported to Mexico.
In June 2010, ICE agents arrested Lourdes in the driveway of her home, while her children observed with shock and fear. For twenty-three days, ICE resorted to threats to pressure Lourdes into signing her own deportation order. Courageously, she refused. Lourdes’ citizen brother had requested a visa for her in 2002, which was accepted by Immigration and Naturalization Service. Given her pending visa, Lourdes’ brother urged that she resist the attempts of ICE officers to self-incriminate her. Sadly enough, upon her release, Lourdes’s husband was soon deported, abruptly making Lourdes a struggling single head of household. As she notes, “[ICE] told me I could stay but they deported my husband. I struggled to make ends meet, as they granted me a work permit, but now they want to deport me.”
Outraged by the injustices that Lourdes has suffered, a coalition of civil rights and religious groups has in