Honduran Woman Tries to Deport Her Own Mother

By David North on May 11, 2011

It's the perfect man-bites-dog story in the immigration field; a 30-ish Honduran woman seeks to deport her own mother, goes to the Honduran consulate in Atlanta to speed it up, and is faced with a demand for a bribe to do so.

The full story has elements of pathos, of irony, of illegal-alien klutziness, as well as some interesting implications for immigration policy, notably that we as a nation should systematically encourage the non-mandatory departure of illegals – something we don't do.

Facts: Iris Calderon, who is described in the news article merely as "a Honduran woman", learned that her 55-year-old mother, Marlene, who has diabetes, had been arrested on a shoplifting charge, and placed in a DHS detention facility. Iris said she wanted to speed up her deportation.

In order to do so she went to the consulate and asked for help, and, in turn, was asked to pay a $500 bribe. She apparently did not pay the bribe, complained about it to Honduran officials, got no satisfaction, and went to ICE with her complaint. That's where the situation rested when Mundo Hispanico, an affiliate of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, published its story earlier this month (three days before Mother's Day!).

The newspaper, which wrote an otherwise comprehensive account, did not do anything as useful as noting the civil status of either the daughter or the mother, or the prior criminal record, if any, of the mother, so some speculation will be necessary. Maybe such reportage would be politically incorrect. Nor was there any discussion of the daughter's motivations for her actions.

Comments: That a daughter would seek to speed the deportation of her own mother piques one's interest, as does her seemingly odd tactic of going to the Honduran consulate to do so, when virtually all such decisions are made by ICE. Let's look at these two elements in turn.

The daughter may be a heartless person, who finds living with, or even near, her mother is a drag, and decides that if deportation is possible, then she wants it to happen as soon as possible.

On the other hand, maybe the daughter is simply carrying out her mother's wishes, which is to get out of detention, and go back to Honduras as soon as possible. I certainly have heard attorneys for detained illegals plead with immigration judges to speed up the removal process, and heard the IJ's say that they will try, but the process is beyond their control.

Maybe both mother and daughter would prefer that the trip back to Honduras be at government expense, as it would be with deportation. I suspect that the mother must be an illegal alien, or why else would she be in detention? A permanent resident alien could be sent to detention on a criminal charge, but for shoplifting? (The lack of information on the mother's other criminal record, if any, is frustrating. PACER, the federal courts' electronic data system, tells us nothing about either woman.)

Then there is the visit to the consulate, as opposed, to say, going to ICE, or seeking a quick departure through the immigration courts, perhaps an oxymoron. In the courts the daughter, if the mother agreed, could ask for voluntary departure, which is relatively speedy, if they were willing to pay for the airfare. If the mother did not want to be deported, which remains a possibility, that would come out in the court room.

Going to the consulate may be simply a non-sophisticated action, another indication of the element of klutz which appears so often when illegal aliens get in trouble. (On the other hand, Iris Calderon may know something about the deportation process to Honduras that I do not know.)

One of the ironies of the situation is that the mother's diabetes is more likely to be treated at public expense in the detention facility, than it will be back in Honduras, or that would be my guess.

Policy Considerations: Apart from the matter of family relations, and perhaps a lack of sophistication on the part of the daughter, one thing stands out in this case. Here is a potential departure of what appears to be an illegal alien, one with at least a mild criminal record, a departure that someone in the family wants to happen.

The U.S. should welcome such requests, and make departure as easy and as convenient as possible.

I would think that in such a case, there should be a one-to-one interview with a government officer and the alien, and if, in that setting, the official is convinced that she wants to leave, and that she is of sound mind, and that there are no serious reasons to hold her (such as a need for a prison sentence) that she should be sent home immediately without waiting for a court decision.

Part of the arrangement, of course, would be that she would agree not to seek to come back to the U.S. legally for, say, at least five years, and that she had signed a statement saying that she knew that an attempted illegal entry would lead to an automatic jail term. Similarly, she would provide fingerprints and all other needed ID information, and this would be placed on the government's watch list for use at the ports of entry.

She would then be escorted to an airplane heading for the homeland. Perhaps the cost of the flight home could be deducted from her balance, if any, in the Social Security system.

Some aliens, of course, would game the system, but one hopes that the majority would not.