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Immigration and Deportation Come to Palo Alto

Original post made by stephen levy on Mar 30, 2007

This story about family breakup was posted yesterday on Palo Alto Online.

Web Link

I don't see how the family breakup helps anyone and may end up with large public sector costs for taking care of the children. The impact of deportation policies can now be seen here in Palo Alto.

Comments (43)

Posted by kate, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 30, 2007 at 9:53 am

i read this story today and was so sad at the outcome of what will happen to this family. they were the victims of a fradulent lawyer and now the price they pay is deportation and a family splitting up. no good can come out of the mother being deported and the kids going to foster care.

Posted by gordon, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2007 at 10:26 am

how can this really be happening?

where is Feinstein. . . Eshoo. . . anybody?

Posted by Alan, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 30, 2007 at 1:34 pm

knee-jerk, Ignorant public policy

Posted by Dave, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 30, 2007 at 1:50 pm

No compassionate person can be unmoved by the plight of the family described in the story.

And no thinking person can fail to see that this story demonstrates the fundamental flaws in the current Immigration laws.

But if you think hard, what would you really want to happen? For the immigration officials to decide on their own to flout the law? For individual Senators or Congressmen to weigh in on individual legal cases - in essence taking the law into their own hands when they don't like the result?

We are blessed by the great fortune of being a country of laws. I think the best result of this would be to galvanize us into applying pressure to change the terrible immigration laws once and for all.

George Bush, for all his many faults, at least seems to be more or less on the right side of this one. Would that Feinstein, Boxer and Eshoo and others be more forceful in pursuing legislation in this area.

Posted by bernie, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2007 at 3:04 pm

dave, hope you're enjoying cheap prices your fruits, veggies, house cleaning, retaurant labor, child care, landscaping, janitorial services, hotel workers - and, how about NAFTA - yu like that too? - with our tax money supporting price supports for rich American corn farmers, letting them sell their corn below what 1000's of Mexican farmers can get at market, forcing them to leave home to support their families - it's all on the back of immigrants,

A country of laws? please... law is subjectively rendered... yes, we're a country of laws, and lawyers, by the millions, many working as lobbyists on the Hill to make sure wealthy corn farmers can use valuable cropland to undersell poor Mexican farmers, forcing them North, so that you and i can pay social welfare

rich cornn farmers whose lobbyists push for zero-net-gain ethanol, using cropland that could feed the poor

gimmie a break

btw, bush (sic) will go down as the worst president in American hhistory, by far

Posted by kate, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 30, 2007 at 4:00 pm

i'd be interested in knowing the follow up story to this to see what happens.
if anything, it makes sense that enough money is raised to send all family members together rather than having the kids go to foster care.

Posted by cmw, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2007 at 5:25 pm

Is there another phone number we can use to help? With Spring Break here, my call to Barron Park school isn't going to do any good for another week and a half. This story and its photos, the injustice they demonstrate, get me in the gut and I want to help.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Barron Park School
on Mar 30, 2007 at 8:28 pm

I too was moved by this story. Especially as a parent it's hard to read and not feel the need to help out. So I went to the ATM, took out some cash and went to Barron Park Elem. to chip in. The feeling I got from helping out, and the contribution made to the notion of community caring were certainly worth more than the bills in my envelope. I hope it makes a difference to the family. I consider it money well spent. I was glad to see that there had been many others who joined in. The woman coordinating this effort said there had been lots of teachers pitching in, which demonstrates yet again that we have some very caring people working with our kids. I hope they'll find some way to get more information out soon since, as noted above, school's out next week.

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South
on Mar 30, 2007 at 9:03 pm

I will tell this story tomorrow at the Immigration Forum at HP and pass on the good feeelings reflected above

Posted by Citizen, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2007 at 9:15 pm

So the Weekly publishes stories that make people who take their dogs off a leash at the park sound like hardened criminals now writes a story that has people calling for senators and congresspeople to help out illegals who didn't comply with the law? Can we agree to all obey the law or not?

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 30, 2007 at 9:56 pm

There are big issues, and there a our daily lives. We can't always fix the big issues in time to do the right or compassionate thing for those in our daily lives. Regardless of anything else, the children are US citizens and the family is part of our community. Pulling the family apart and taking the kids suddenly away from their parents, school and friends, and then maybe even their country, is just a bad thing to do to those kids. It's not okay in the name of some big issue, which will be completely unaffected by this family's trauma. These kids are US citizens and deserve protection (which is the law) -- and they are just children.

Thank you to the Weekly for publishing their story in a compassionate way. I am heartened to see how many people are responding to this family's plight. They need good legal help!!! I hope there is somehow someone in our community who can offer that to these kids and their family.

Posted by Marielena Gaona-Mendoza, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2007 at 12:15 am

This has been the worst month in the children's life. It is a trauma that they will never be recovered from. They need therapy but unfortunately the rural place they are going to go live at will not provide them with this therapy. However when the children know or see that people are helping them and do not want them out, a little smile shows on their faces. They will also take this good memory about how Americans responded when they needed them. Thank your to you Brian's father for stopping at the house and showing support to the children and to all the community that is supporting the family with prayers, money and by speaking up. Anything you do for the family helps. God Bless you. If you need info. please call me at (650) 493-2992 or at (650)703-7762. Love Marielena Gaona-Mendoza, Home-school liaison at Barron Park.

Posted by Where is Walter Now, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 31, 2007 at 8:50 am

Jost wonderin' why our local resident neo-con has yet to chime in on this stage.
Have you lost your nerve Wally? It's tough showin' your true colors (red,, black & white)
on this one I guess. It's one thing to be proud of invading other countries to claim their resources. That's mighty big. I suppose it's a little to revealing though to let out your true emotions on this one. Silence equals complicity, however, and your absence from this discussion reveals your true colors bro.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 31, 2007 at 4:38 pm

Gee bernie, you need to learn to lighten up a little and get a grip. You're way off the mark in your response to my post. There are a lot of laws I disagree with - including most of those listed in your screed. My point was that we will be in even worse shape if all of us (or our officials) get to pick and choose the laws they'll obey and which they flout. I'd like to change the immigration laws, the price supports you mention, and a lot of other things. But while they're on the books shouldn't they be respected?

The fact that "law is subjectively rendered" some of the time, doesn't mean even-handed objective administration of the laws should not be our goal.

You don't like Bush. I don't either. You want to have a system where he gets to pick the laws he enforces and those he does not even more than he does now? I don't.

The current case is a terrible example of the idiocy of our Immigration laws. That it is being enforced with such tragic consequences to innocents should help galvanize us all to change it into something more in line with our values. Then maybe some of those who are similarly effected by these policies but don't have the (relative!) good fortune to have a story written about them in a rich liberal town newspaper also will benefit

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2007 at 5:46 am

If the father were going to prison for his crimes, he would of necessity leave his kids behind. He is instead going to Mexico. People actually live in Mexico. Even children!!!

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South
on Apr 1, 2007 at 7:14 am

Walter, two questions. One, are you sure that BOTH the mother and father actually commited a crime? The article is unclear as to whether they were taken advantage of by a criminal lawyer and what their status was.

And two, do you really think this kind of "crime" is worth splitting families apart as compared to say assault or murder or selling drugs?

The question of whether there are "victims" is exactly at the heart of the debate as to whether and how we should change the law as Dave suggests.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2007 at 7:58 am

Not relevant. I said nothing about the mother. Children belong in a united family. If the father goes to Mexico, obviously the mother and children should also go. I repeat, people do indeed live in Mexico. Sending someone home is not the same as sending them to prison. Don't be an enabler.

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South
on Apr 1, 2007 at 8:09 am

Walter, America is the home of these children. They were all born here, are all citizens and have all lived their entire life here. That is precisely the point. This family's home is here.

Also as I read the article the dad came in 1985. That would probably make him eligible for the amnesty of 1986. There is a similar story on the front page of today's Mercury News and that dad, who came in 1985 as unauthorized, has legal status now.

What makes you sure the mom and dad have done anything illegal (even under you definition) and are not just the victims of an overzealous enforcement police trying to help politicans show how "tough" we are?

Posted by Beaver, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 1, 2007 at 8:27 am

Gee Wally, He does make a good point.
Do you have some sort of whimsical answer to this one too?

Posted by Family Planner, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2007 at 10:48 am

I think any policy with respect to immigrants should include family planning. I wonder whether there would be more sympathy if the birth rate were lower.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2007 at 12:05 pm

The children belong with their family wherever they were born. Papa should have not broken the law to enter the US. When the children are self supporting they will be welcome back. They will be better citizens knowing why there are laws.
You are welcome to publish a list of those laws you do not feel need be complied with.

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South
on Apr 1, 2007 at 12:27 pm

Walter, maybe third time is the charm for my question. What evidence to you have that dad broke the law? Moreover, he came in 1985 and should be entitled to amnesty under the law. Finally they claim they were ripped off by their lawyer. Do you have evidence this wasn't true. Based on the article in the paper it at least seems possible.

Are you telling me that you trust every government agency that says something, jsut because you agree with what they say?

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South
on Apr 1, 2007 at 12:31 pm

Walter, moreover from the article it sounds like the dad was grabbed off the street, not allowed to cassh his paycheck and immediately deported. I didn't read about any legal proceeding to sort this out. Is this the kind of due process you believe in?

Posted by Henrietta J. Burroughs, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 1, 2007 at 12:37 pm

I sent a video excerpt to the Town Square Forum which was posted on Mar 6, 2007 at 1:35 pm discussing the immigration raids within the context of their effect on the children who are involved. You can see the excerpt that was submitted at Web Link
and also at Web Link.

When I made the post, it was placed in the category of issues beyond Palo Alto. But, what's interesting is that issues beyond Palo Alto also in time affect Palo Alto. In other words, many of the issues that start out affecting a few among us eventually affect us all. I think we must begin to understand that we are not separate from the rest of the world. When the rest of the world suffers, on some level we all suffer.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2007 at 1:32 pm

Snatching people off the streets is a standard way of dealing with lawbreakers in almost all countries. The haste in dealing with illegals is because in almost every case where they are released with a promise to appear they don't appear. The guy had 25 years to regularize his presence in this country. Shall we just cease enforcing any law when it constitutes a hardship on the lawbreaker? Give me the Kleenex concession in the courthouse. And tell me that people do not live in Mexico, a statement of mine you seem unwilling to discuss. Remember, I was invited into this topic.

Posted by marielena, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2007 at 3:40 pm

Walter, I invite you to visit the family and see for yourself what kind of mental damage these children are going through, dad did break the law when he entered USA illegaly. Now the four children were born here, and they have to go to a place where there is no high school, nor middle. This means the education for the 2 older children is over. Is this the way the politicians want to punish the parents by sending these USA citizens to live the kind of life, the same one that their parents were running away from? I lived that life. I know what is expecting for them overthere. I am willing to sit down with you and let you see some paper work that they have. I have to mention, dad does not know how to read, he speaks spanish and some English, this was also why he depended on the lawyer, and he never informed them they lost the appeal. Mom reads a little spanish. Also, go online and research Miguel Gadda Attorney. He is the one who failed the children. The children are just victims of people like him and of the bad economic situation that people live in the villages of Mexico. Thanks. God bless you all. Thank you for having this kind of conversation. Marielena

Posted by anon, a resident of another community
on Apr 1, 2007 at 5:29 pm

A key concept of our law is that the perpetrator of the crime is not supposed to profit by his/her crime.

Shouldn't we deny automatic US citizenship to children of immigrants or visitors that are illegally in the country at the time of giving birth? Before people jump in about "punishing the children", let me point out that the children are not "punished." They are simply not profiting from the crimes of their parents. Having Mexican citizenship is not a punishment, as Walter correctly implied.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2007 at 5:44 pm

There are schools in Mexico, including colleges with fine reputations. I would suggest they go to Mexico, and then file against the attorney and require him to right whatever wrong he has done, then go in the front door of the US Consolate there and apply for admission the honest man's way. And if he does come back, learn the language and learn to read. In the mean time, you might salve your conscience by setting the older ones up for home schooling.

Posted by marielena, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2007 at 7:29 pm

Walter and Anon, the family do not have families in any of the cities to help them get back on their feet. The only roof they have for now, is 2 hours driving) away from middle schools and high schools. Yes in the future things might get better, because they are hard workers. Also there are scorpions where they are going. I was afraid that they might get bitten for the scorpions. But now that I hear you, the scorpions are not so bad campared with people who think like you. Any way. I am not trying to making you take the other side. This is your country, and even when I am an american citizen and vote. I see that the first immigrans in this country are the ones that are heard. Home schooling in Mexico is only for the rich. Trying to get a visa to come here when you are mexican is imposible you have to show that you have land and good job in Mexico and have no need to stay here. I went thoru that, I worked as a paralegal with an attorney and my parents had a small house, so I was able to do it, but Pedro is not as lucky as me, I was reaisedin the city. Also remember California used to be Mexico, but our damm president Santa Ana was not smart enough to keep the land. God bless you all, from the bottom of my heart. I am an immigrant myself but I seriously love every creature that god created. Marielena

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2007 at 8:33 pm

And before California was Mexico it was...?
Home schooling by correspondence course is quite reasonable. And there are scorpions in Trona, California where I spent 7 years.

If more hard working Mexicans stayed home and took their country back from the 400 families and the mordito, we all would be better off.

Posted by Teacher, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 2, 2007 at 12:09 am

Having worked with the children of Isabel and Pedro, I know it will be a shock they are not prepared for. What is heartbreaking is that the family was hardworking, supportive and loving but most of all trusting. The lawyer betrayed them. I know Yadira (the fifth grade student) and she played the violin, spoke English beautifully and added to the rich diversity of Palo Alto. I think she believed in America, and as a citizen of America, it would not turn on her family. Many people can comment on this case as if it were just a forum to write your political views, but I know this family and it is a tragedy. Children were hungry in our city and the ICE came in and treated these people like hardened criminals. When people do not stand up for people in their own community and let laws treat people inhumane it saddens me. I guess we have not learned from our mistakes. Whatever, Yadira's family status was they were a hardworking, supportive family of Palo Alto and they were treated like criminals, all of them.

Posted by marielena, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 2, 2007 at 12:51 am

Walter did you sleep on the floor in those 7 year when you were living in Trona California, did the scorpions fell on your head unexpectely, where you hours away from a medical facility in case you were bitten by them. I do not think so. I can see clearly that you have only visited the rich neighborhoods of Mexico, and you have no idea what you are talking about. It is not your fault, I understand it. I probably ignore things about other countries too, because I was not raised there. It is a great idea the correspondence education. Only one problem in the village there is no mail man going door to door, people have to go to the city and pick up the mail. They do not own a car. There is no drinking water that comes out of a faucet, they have to carry the water from a well, they have on outhouse for toilet of course with no drainage. Also it is not a shame to be Mexican. I am proud to be who I am, because I have more knoledge than you in this case. I am sure you are a highly educated person and know a lot more other things than me about this country, because you were were lucky to beborn in a rich country. By the way, before Mexico, it was a land of the Native Americans, however when European immigrants and his decendendants came they commited genocide against them and it did not matter if they were children involve, they tried to assimilate themthe children sending them to boarding schools away from their parents so they could act like them. Visit the cementery were these children who suffered from depresion and homesicness were buried. This may happen to our USA children who are going through this hard times, too. It is not only the Ramirez children who are in this situation, some of them have been sent to foster homes (if what I heard on the news is true) Thanks.

Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 2, 2007 at 7:03 am

I know Marielena personally from working with her at Barron Park when my kids were there. I want to thank Marielena for her courage in speaking out publicly and for working on behalf of these, all Hispanic and in fact all kids at Barron Park. They are blessed to have, at least, your compassionate and loving attention. I know you understand what I am saying.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 2, 2007 at 8:38 am

Your description of the way they live in Mexico sounds quite a bit like we lived here when I was a kid. I doubt that my opinion about theo 400 families and the little bite would get me a welcome in a wealthy Mexican neighborhood.

Posted by Anthony, a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2007 at 2:04 pm

Another point to make is that Walter probably grew up there...he wasn't displaced and sent there. Most of us wouldn't fare so well.

Even in Trona, CA there is railway access and there's a county 911 system, and I'm pretty sure you guys had school past elementary.

These kids and the family are currently part of our Palo Alto family and we should do what we can to protect them. As far as I know, their parents weren't out stealing stereos and the oldest kid isn't out gangbanging. These are actually good hard-working people.

Posted by Long Time Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2007 at 1:53 am

It is a shame that a family is "broken up" in our town. But, who is to blame? the ICE? the Goverment? the community? I feel that no one but the parents of the unfortunate children involved. Even though there is a lot of support for this family, the parents are here ILLEGALLY.
In the past 21 years there have been no less than 7 amnesty programs in which over 5.5 million have taken advantage of. It is a shame that the parents of these lovely children did not feel it necessary to enroll in any of these programs. I blame non other than the parents for their plight. Keep in mind that it is not only those from Mexico who come illegally. ICE has "rounded up" folks from over 20 different countries in the past few weeks.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 5, 2007 at 8:16 am

"Another point to make is that Walter probably grew up there...he wasn't displaced and sent there. Most of us wouldn't fare so well."

Ever hear of the Dust Bowl? I rode west in the rumble seat of a '28 Oakland in '36. Stranger in a strange land.

"Even in Trona, CA there is railway access and there's a county 911 system, and I'm pretty sure you guys had school past elementary."

The ony thing riding the Trona Railroad was potash going out and oil coming in. We had the Trona stage. They scheduled it to arrive after dark because when it arrived in dayight new hires would not even get off. As for 911, that was a few years later. We also had company scrip and a company store. Cars had 6-60 air conditioning, 6 windows open, 60 miles an hour.

If more Mexicans stayed home and demanded honest government, they might not have to sneak around.

Posted by Anthony, a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2007 at 2:39 pm

Exactly, seeemed liked you had SOME connection to outside, even if just for emergency's sake.

And even if you had it worse, the important point is we still don't want these kids to have it that bad. It was their parents' fault ultimately for escaping to here from Mexico, BUT this isn't about blame. As of right now, they're still in this predicament and still need help. They tried going through the legal channels and their attorney screwed them over. Happens a LOT. Let's just try to help out.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 7, 2007 at 8:57 pm

Trade places with them?

Posted by Kate, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 8, 2007 at 7:31 am

Has Isabel Aquirre and Pedro Ramirez, here since 1989, been filing and, if necessary, paying state and federal taxes since that time? Has Isabel's employer, The Stanford Terrace, been paying state and federal taxes based on her employment with them? Did they know of her illegal status since 1989? Where did Pedro work and did he and his employer do the same? What knowledge did his employer have of his illegal status? These are important questions that should have been addressed in the article. I do not support illegal immigrants living in the U.S., sending their kids to U.S. schools and taking advantage of social programs that should be available to legal citizens only. Ms. Aquirre and Mr. Ramirez placed their kids in harms way by illegally sneaking into the U.S. I hope they have at least paid their fair share of the tax burden they brought to you and me. Shame on them for placing innocent kids in this position.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 8, 2007 at 7:59 am

The humanitarian impulse that led us to open our borders to refugees from dictatorships has been hijacked by economic refugees. That class would be better served by exporting capitalism rather then moving bodies. We are subsidizing the Mexican oligarchy by seducing potential rebels away.

Posted by z, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2007 at 10:31 am

Kate, stop making yourself smarter because you brought these "questions" to light. Do you know that illegal individuals are given tax id numbers to prepare and file taxes every year? You would be surprised how many illegal families work hard (doing the jobs I doubt you would want to) proudly pay their taxes, and work towards making a decent life. You go off on a little tyraid, without knowing anything about these issues. How many illegal families do you know?

Posted by marielena, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 13, 2007 at 12:09 pm

Have anyone of you asked yourselves, how come there is more identity theft than before? This is happening because undocumented immigrants are not allow anymore to get a California's Identification or Driver License unless they are documented. Many undocumented people are driving with no driver licence and no insurance, insurances companies can not insure them unless they have a driver license. Some people go as far as Nevada or Oregon to get a valid driver licence and pay for the car insurance. If everyone was allowed to have a driver licence like it was before, there would be less identity theft. Sorry guys you and I are paying the price of punishing undocumented people. Of course we will still have the identity theft problem like we have always had, but not as much as now. Just letting you know the why. Thansk.

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