This is terrible. Fifty-two-year-old Eligio Valerio, a cabdriver from Washington Heights with a green card, is being held in federal custody and faces deportation to the Dominican Republic because of a 30-year-old gun charge (Valerio used to own a bodega and kept one there for safety). This is great news for his daughter Elibany, who is eight-months pregnant.
Apparently, this is part of a big federal push to clear out immigrants with criminal records, an indiscriminate dragnet that has yielded almost 400,000 deportations over the last year. Because obviously, spending money on splitting up families and disrupting communities is always a good investment.
The majority of you probably can’t quite relate to the panic that Mr. Valerio’s is no doubt feeling at this point—I can. Though it’s certainly not on the same scale, there was a point in my own green card proceedings when I was almost denied because
I couldn’t remember what side of the bed Andie Macdowell sleeps on of a ticket for underage drinking I’d received as a 16-year-old; the interviewer even had the nerve to talk about “moral character” (though her accent was very thick, so it was occasionally hard to understand her; I’m not kidding). I had a wife, a job, a life in New York… And I was being told that all of it might have to just end. Bad feeling.
So I can only hope someone with even a little bit of power (the Valerios have appealed to Governor Paterson) has the good sense to intervene, whatever the political climate might be right now. (And though I’m never sure if this works, please write a letter to your congressperson, because this ain’t right.)