As legislators drag their feet, the immigration system goes from complicated, to complex, to chaotic. Yesterday a story out of NPR’s Marketplace illustrated how the unjust detention and deportation of longtime residents is creating the phenomenon of “deportation wills”. As if preparing for a household death, families who have dug deep roots into American soil must organize their assets and prepare emergency plans in case of a deportation.
One especially heartbreaking case was that of Ismael and his sick son:
Ismael Martinez Neri lived in the U.S. for 12 years. Then, one night, he was stopped by police in Georgia for a broken taillight. It led to his being put into deportation proceedings. Bad enough for him, but worse for his son, who doctors had put on a waiting list for a heart transplant.
ISMAEL MARTINEZ NERI: As soon as they found out that I was in removal proceedings, they took him out of the list, because they were concerned about who would provide transportation to my son after the transplant.
He was unprepared for his own deportation, let alone the implications for his very sick son. This despite the fact that activists have been warning for years that people need to make tough financial decisions in advance and make arrangements.
This is the unfortunate reality we face today. While we work to fix this broken system that separates families, fractures communities, and thwarts lasting development, we must help migrants prepare for the worst. On our website we provide information for Family Safety Planning in order to keep every family member safe in the event of an immigration-related emergency. It’s part of our greater Be Not Afraid resources available in both English and Spanish.