Friday, September 21, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Deporting Luis Blanco was cruel

First, letís get all the messy stuff out the way to spare some of you from writing indignant, outraged missives deploring the scourge of illegal immigration. Consider this reader customer service.

Was Luis Blanco in this country illegally? Yesiree.

Did the Plant City resident of 20 years deserve to get deported back to Mexico last week? No.

Is this assault on otherwise law-abiding, hard-working people stupid? You betcha.

The 42-year-old Blanco slipped across the border two decades ago for the same reason a vast majority of people seek to come to the United States ó to pursue a better life for himself and his family. A crime? Perhaps. But a criminal? Hardly.

He was not here on an El Chapo scholarship. For years, Blanco worked harvesting tobacco and fruit. If you think he was stealing a job from American citizens, you try laboring in the fields sometime and see how long you last.

Blanco also worked in construction. Anything to provide for his family of six, all born here, all American citizens.

But a 2014 traffic offense proved to be Blancoís undoing as it caught the attention of immigration officials. That was back during the Obama administration, however. Blanco received a humanitarian stay, which allowed him to remain and work in the United States as long as he renewed his paperwork every year. And he did.

As hunting down desperado fugitives goes, nabbing Blanco was a no-brainer. When he dutifully showed up to renew his documents allowing him to live in the country, he was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. And next thing Blanco knew he was sitting in the Krome Detention Center in Miami waiting to be deported to Mexico.

ICE eventually issued a statement, noting the agency has an obligation to enforce the immigration law "fairly and efficiently."

But what was remotely fair or efficient about Blancoís deportation?

He had broken no laws while under humanitarian status. He was employed. He paid his taxes. And he complied with government rules to renew his humanitarian paperwork.

A few questions.

How does arresting and deporting a familyís breadwinner serve any useful purpose? Blanco had a job. He worked. He wasnít burdening anyone.

How does a nation that gives lip service to honoring family values justify ripping apart a family? In fact Blancoís wife, Lourdes Medrano, who is part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, is expecting the coupleís seventh child ó who will now be born without the presence of a father.

And how do you explain to Blancoís children ó not to mention the baby on the way ó what their father did that was oh so evil to warrant being taken away in handcuffs after 20 years of living in the United States?

Blanco had a deal with the federal government. In return for his humanitarian status, if he played by the rules and stayed out trouble he would be allowed to remain in this country. He upheld his end of the bargain until the government reneged.

Even ICE has admitted its focus is supposed to be on "individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security." Based on that standard, it is hard to make a case that Luis Blanco, a Plant City father of six (soon to be seven), who worked in construction, represented any threat to anyoneís security, unless, of course, ICE sleuths had learned he was using too many serrano peppers in his salsa dip.

Blanco was not hiding in the shadows. You could certainly make the reasonable argument his dubiously titled humanitarian status should have afforded him a modicum of protection from deportation.

What now? Days ago Blanco was dumped at the Mexican border to make his way to Veracruz. What happens to his family? Clearly the U.S. government, whose symbol of Lady Liberty beckons to "give me your tired, your poor Ö yearning to breathe free," doesnít care. No doubt the anti-immigrant voices in the United States were well pleased.

It is true there are plenty of less than honorable illegal immigrants who should be prime candidates to be sent back from whence they came. Fair enough.

But the law and compassion should not be mutually exclusive.

Immigration is a complex issue, overly simplified by inane, racist fear-mongering rants about bad hombres, rapists and murderers.

Luis Blanco was none of those things. He is a symbol of the wall of cruelty that has cast a shadow over the nationís immigration debate.

Comments
Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Vote by mail has been a stunning success in Florida, increasing turnout and making it easy and convenient to cast a ballot with time to research and reflect. But a new study shows that mail ballots cast by African-American, Hispanic or younger voters...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

State and federal lending regulations exist to protect consumers from being surprised — and overwhelmed — by ballooning debt. Marlin Financial, a shadowy auto lender doing business around Florida, seems to be skirting those protections ...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18
Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Florence began lashing down on the Carolinas Thursday and was expected to make landfall early Friday, washing over dunes, downing trees and power lines and putting some 10 million people in the path of a potentially catastrophic storm. Flor...
Published: 09/13/18