Sometimes we get phone calls here at the Center from distressed citizens in conflict with illegal aliens — and they add a strong, personal dimension to the arguments about the lack of interior enforcement of immigration law.
Here's one such story, with all names deleted.
The 25-year-old young woman who called, a native-born citizen apparently living in rural Texas, was distraught. She said an illegal alien was harassing her, her mother, and her eight-month-old baby and she wanted that person deported, and no one was listening to her.
The person in question was her father, the baby's grandfather.
We got the phone call late last week and by the time I returned it on Monday there had been another incident: "He's in jail. The cops came last night after he threw out the [window-unit] ACs and threatened us. They found a little bag of something when they arrested him."
Let's call the young woman Mary — that's not her name.
"He's got a Social Security card and a birth certificate that says he was born in Galveston, but he's an illegal," she said.
Using some gentle questions, and some reasoned speculation, this appears to be the story: Mary's father was an illegal alien from Columbia, presumably having arrived in the United States more than 25 years ago. Both he and his wife, Mary's mother (presumably a citizen), have long-standing records regarding drug possession.
"When I was eight," Mary said, "The cops broke down the front door and carried my father off to jail; it all had something to do with cocaine." She said her mother (but not Mary) had some arrests from drug charges, but I did not seek the specifics.
All this is playing out in a clearly disadvantaged part of society. Mary and her mother live in a non-air-conditioned house in rural Texas (hence the window units); Mary did not speak of a partner, so she is probably a single mother, and the baby was probably born out of wedlock. Mary had been living in what sounded like public housing before she moved back in with her mother.
Further, Mary did not sound like she had much effective education. (For instance, she did not have a good handle on the nature of the legal difficulties of either her mother or her father.)
All of these problems and a (presumably) nursing baby (I was asked to call back in half an hour "because I have to feed my baby") suggest that Mary was not — and I am sure that this is a frequent variable — in the best position to get law enforcement to do what she wanted.
She had apparently called ICE, but I did not get much of an impression of what happened.
Without claiming to offer legal advice, I gave Mary an ICE tip-line phone for her part of Texas and stressed to her that while ICE might sound sympathetic on the implied domestic violence problems, they might be much more interested in the drug charges. "Tell them about the raid on the house when you were a kid, tell them about the bag of drugs found on him last night," I said.
There was another variable, as you might expect in such a case: "Am I doing the right thing?" she asked me, a total stranger, "He is my father."
"I just want him out of here."
I told her that her father was not acting like a good father, and she agreed, so I said she should call ICE.
I do not know what will happen in this case, but it obviously would be a good idea if Mary's father were put on the next plane to Bogota — and if there were more resources, and more will, nationwide, to handle this sort of thing.