Religious and community leaders gathered outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in Baltimore to protest the looming deportation of a Mexican woman who has four grandchildren in the United States.
Josefina Rodriguez Vega, a 58-year-old undocumented immigrant living in Hagerstown, Maryland, was arrested last June for driving without a license and turned over to ICE.
After several months under house arrest, Rodriguez Vega was taken last Thursday to an ICE detention center on Maryland's Eastern Shore, far from her home. With the legal options all but exhausted, she now faces imminent deportation to Mexico.
The people of her church, of her community, and her family are very disappointed because Josefina is not a criminal and the most she has in her record is some minor traffic infraction. Clearly, she doesn't represent a danger, neither to society nor to U.S. national security.
- Elizabeth Alec, of the group CASA de Maryland
Family members were joined outside the ICE office in Baltimore by immigration activists and representatives of St. Joseph's Church in Hagerstown, where Josefina worships.
"The people of her church, of her community, and her family are very disappointed because Josefina is not a criminal and the most she has in her record is some minor traffic infraction. Clearly, she doesn't represent a danger, neither to society nor to U.S. national security," protest organizer Elizabeth Alec, of the group CASA de Maryland, told Efe.
"Josefina has six years in this country and has strong ties with the community," Alec said. "ICE denied the request to stop the deportation, without giving an explanation."
CASA de Maryland's executive director, Gustavo Torres, says ICE's handling of the Rodriguez Vega case contradicts new official guidelines that call for prioritizing deportation of undocumented immigrants who have criminal records or pose a risk to national security.
Baltimore was one of the areas included in a pilot program launched in August to review all pending deportation cases and, where appropriate, allow undocumented migrants to apply for temporary work permits.
The pilot program ended last week, but ICE has yet to release any data on how many people benefited.
Questioned by Efe, officials at the Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on Rodriguez Vega's case or to specify a date for her deportation.
"Josefina's case is a classic example of someone who doesn't deserve deportation, who should have the charges dropped," Elizabeth Alec said. "People have all the reason in the world to feel disappointed because it will end up being another example of a promise not kept" by the Obama administration.