Wednesday, March 7, 2018

How America's Inflexible Immigration Policy is Tearing Families Apart

by Nomad

Whatever your views on immigration, the story of the Pukri family is a tale of what happens when broad policy trickles down to a human level. 

Having left their home country for the US nearly two decades ago, the goals of the Vitor and Neta were to obtain their legal status to remain in the country they loved. At the time, with the civil order broken down, Albania was a dangerous place to raise a family.
Take a listen to this short podcast.

In May 2017, it seemed as though that goal was within their reach. A letter had arrived from the Diversity Immigrant Visa program (otherwise known as the green card lottery). Through this process, permanent legal residency can be obtained. Around 20 million people apply but only 50,000 are selected.

So, it is a long shot at best and at worst, it is a false hope. Still, for many families, it is the only option for citizenship.

Every year, for the last 17 years. the Pukris had applied and it seemed that this time luck was in their favor. They arrived at the immigration offices for what they thought was an interview.

However, there was a shock in store for them. Both Vitor and Neta were arrested as illegal immigrants. (Neta was later released but required to wear an ankle monitor to track her movements.)
The two sons, Bepin and Mikel, 26 and 21, respectively, are DACA recipients, while Angela, who's 10, was born in the U.S. and is an American citizen.
This means if DACA is repealed- as Trump has demanded, the entire family is likely to be deported, with the exception of Angela. As an underage American citizen, She faces a choice between deportation back to Albania with the rest of the family or being taken by New Jersey social services.  

The most humiliating part of these events is that Neta was a strong Trump supporter. Even though she could not vote in the 2016 election, Neta recalls:
"Oh God, I made everybody to vote for him. I wanted him to win so badly... It sucks because everybody is telling me do you see what is happening with you now?"  
The family, like a lot of Trump supporters who fell for Trump's populist propaganda, obviously, have their regrets.

Their story is becoming more and more commonplace. In December 2017, a group of organizations defending immigrants’ rights filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and the DHS Office of the Inspector General, on the same pattern of violations by ICE tearing families apart in numerous other cases.

Following this podcast, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) defended the arrest.
“Both Neta Pukri and Vitor Pukri had previous orders of removal from the United States dating back to 2004, which in the case of both was upheld by two different appellate courts. On Feb. 6, ICE arrested both individuals based on their final orders of removal. Vitor Pukri is currently in ICE custody, and Neta Pukri has been enrolled in the agency’s Alternatives to Detention program.”
The law is the law, that's true. Other nations have equally unsparing immigration policies. The difference is, of course, that America has long touted its exceptionalism as a nation of immigrants.
Hardline supporters of immigration reform say that ICE is only upholding the laws and it is too easy to paint the authorities as villains in a sob story. The Pukri family broke the law, took the risk and now must pay the price.

So, what do you think about this story?