Immigration Reform 2014: Keep America Beautiful by Keeping Families Together

February 05, 2014

Jose Luis Sanchez-Ronquillo is a devoted husband and father to two young children. For 16 years, he has worked hard at the same job and was recently promoted to a manager position. Jose has no criminal record. In fact, he's a beloved member of his Ann Arbor neighborhood

Until a last minute stay granted this morning, ICE officials had intended to permanently tear Jose apart from his family, work, neighborhood and city – all of whom desperately want him to stay and have gained support from Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje, Senator Carl Levin, the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR), Michigan United and DreamActivists.

A vigil and community support event for the family has been scheduled for tonight at 4:30 p.m. in the multipurpose room at Bach Elementary School in Ann Arbor.  Find out more about Jose's case here.

Jose Luis’ case is a textbook example of our broken immigration system and the urgent need for immigration reform. While one family is no longer torn apart, thousands of others are living under the same fear that Jose Luis and his family were facing until just this morning. Immigration reform cannot wait any longer.

ICE’s own directives instruct officers to only focus on serious criminal offenders and threats to communities. However, instead we see ICE breaking up families and targeting parents, spouses, hardworking employees, and active community members again and again – the very people who have inspired the simultaneous bipartisan push for immigration reform to keep them here.

The ACLU of Michigan advocates for the rights of immigrants across the state, recently releasing a booklet of stories of our challenges and successes in Michigan. Read our report on immigration reform in Michigan report here

While President Obama has earned the title “Deporter-in-Chief” with a record of almost two million deportations during his administrations, he recently announced his commitment to prioritizing immigration reform in the 2014 State of the Union address.

His statement of support coincides with Governor Snyder’s proposal to encourage job creation for 50,000 new immigrants in Detroit over the next five years and with a trip to East Lansing scheduled for Friday where President Obama intends to discuss immigration reform with Michigan farmworkers.

The ACLU has provided President Obama and policymakers with a roadmap for fixing the broken immigration system while protecting civil liberties.

If President Obama and Congress are serious about finally moving forward with immigration reform, they “must create a welcoming roadmap to citizenship for aspiring Americans living in and contributing to the U.S.” – starting with people like Jose Luis, who are productive members of their community and working hard to support their mixed-status families.

Jose Luis' victory would never have happened without the quick organizing by his community and their countless phone calls and pressure on ICE officials to keep the family together. Now it's President Obama and Congress' turn to rally for these families.

No human being is illegal. As Coke reminded us during the Super Bowl, America is Beautiful because of our rich cultural diversity and our history of welcoming immigration.

By Sofia Rahman, Legal Fellow