My family is dealing with the immigration court system currently and at the start of all of this, I started petition in regard to this issue. I have noticed in the time since, there have been many similar petitions started and I have started to think that if we could address these needs in one big petition, there is a greater chance of our voices being heard.
Federal immigration judges do not have the ability to consider factors other than what is black and white in front of them in court. For example, Legal Permanent Resdents (LPR) are held and deported automatically for "aggravated felonies". While I do not condone criminal behavior, many times, the behavior occurred many years (in my husband's case 8) before ICE decides to begin removal proceedings. The judge is unable to consider factors other than the conviction. In our case, my husband did not serve jail time, he was an addict who needed help. I do not want to minimize his actions--he had drugs on his person and that is illegal. However, the state court sentenced him to treatment and probation. He completed all of this and has been a productive member of society. He has worked for the same union for 26 years (even when he was using), paid taxes, owns a home, and has family that are all citizens. The fact that they are NOW trying to deport him is ludicrous. In all honesty, if it happened when he plead guilty, then I could understand it. But to be given the opportunity by the state to change your life and then 8 years later have ICE swoop in to destroy that is unsconsionable.
Many of our families are in this same situation. Our loved ones have changed, their crimes occurred a long time ago, they did not understand the true immigration consequence when they plead guilty, and we as US citizens are faced with a life sentence of either splitting up our families or moving to a country that is not our own. Comprehensive immigration reform does not appear to be addressing this. We need to be heard. As citizens of the United States, we deserve a voice and an opportunity to live as families.