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Congressman Luis Gutierrez

Representing the 4th District of Illinois


March 13, 2012
Press Release

South Carolina Immigrant Granted Continuance Until May 15

At Charlotte Hearing

March 13, 2012

Media Contact: Douglas Rivlin (202) 225-8203



(Washington, DC) -- Today, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' Task Force on Immigration, attended a deportation hearing in Charlotte, NC for a 27 year old South Carolina man facing deportation.  The hearing resulted in a continuance for the man, Gabino Sanchez of Ridgeland, SC, and his attorney, Marty Rosenbluth of the NC Immigrant Rights Project in Durham, NC.  Mr. Sanchez, who is married, the father of two U.S. citizens, and has been in the country for more than a dozen years since coming to America as a teenager, will appear in a Charlotte immigration court again on May 15.  The Congressman plans to attend that hearing as well.

The Congressman, who did not speak at the hearing, took an interest in Mr. Sanchez' case late last year when he traveled to Charleston, SC for Mr. Sanchez' preliminary supervisory hearing with immigration officials.  Mr. Sanchez, who has been stopped eight times and charged with multiple misdemeanors for driving without a license, is the type of immigrant with no serious criminal record whose case should be closed, the Congressman feels, particularly because all of his misdemeanors relate directly to his immigration status.  Under deportation guidelines announced by the Obama Administration last year, the Department of Homeland Security should be prioritizing the deportations of immigrants who have committed serious crimes like rape and murder and apply prosecutorial discretion to close deportation cases against immigrants with deep ties to the United States and no significant criminal history.

The following is a statement by Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez:

It is becoming increasingly clear that the policy the President articulated and the policy being carried out in courtrooms, detention centers, and immigrant neighborhoods are two different things.  Gabino Sanchez is a man who has worked peacefully in the U.S. for more than a decade, has a wife and two kids to support, must drive a car to get to work, and is not a criminal in any meaningful sense.  We should be deporting rapists and violent criminals with haste and we can free up room on the court docket to do so by closing cases against hardworking fathers like Gabino Sanchez.

We will fight this deportation in court, but we will also fight for this policy to be applied and for the case to be dropped before May 15.  Getting a continuance was not unexpected and will give his attorney time to prepare his case more thoroughly.  But we also have time outside the courtroom to keep bringing the case of Gabino Sanchez, and immigrants like him, to the attention of immigration authorities so that they follow through on the President's policies.  I have discussed, and will continue to discuss, Gabino Sanchez' case with everyone at Homeland Security Headquarters and the White House because his case is why I fought hard with many others to secure the use of prosecutorial discretion in prioritizing criminal deportations in the first place.

In the short-run, the President should make it clear -- again -- that we are not going to waste resources and man hours deporting the parents of U.S. citizens, DREAM Act youth who were brought to the U.S. as children, the families of members of our armed services, and other assets to our communities who have deep roots in the U.S. 

Simply put, Gabino Sanchez is not a criminal so the Department of Homeland Security should move on to the next case by closing this one.  He is not even a reckless or bad driver.  Rather, he is a man who must work and is not allowed to have a driver's license and he has been targeted by his local police. 

The federal government should not be complicit in breaking up the Sanchez family or removing a father from his children simply because he is unlucky enough to live in rural South Carolina where racial profiling is the norm. 

In Chicago, in Charlotte, in Charleston, and in cities across the U.S., clergy and advocates and immigrant leaders are coming together to ensure that cases that deserve consideration under the President's policies are receiving it.  The first meeting of my Family Unity Advisory Group takes place in Chicago tomorrow and I think these efforts will help us to know if the Obama Administration is serious about changing business as usual when it comes to immigrants.

In the long run, we need to fix our immigration system so that immigrants can come legally in the first place within reasonable limits and immigrants like Mr. Sanchez with kids, a wife and a decade or more in the U.S. can get legal somehow.  That's how we eliminate unlicensed and uninsured drivers: by getting them in the system and on-the-books.

Doing that, while deporting serious offenders and concentrating law-enforcement on actual criminals, is what makes a community safer, not taking a father away from his kids.

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