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Bill Kubota for Detroit Public Television’s One Detroit and the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.
For the past three weeks Detroit Journalism Cooperative Regional Editor Scott McCartney and Bill Kubota, along with Bridge Magazine’s Chastity Pratt Dawsey have been following the progress of Southwest Detroiter Maria Garcia Jaurez’s deportation order, which includes reports on DPTV’s MiWeek hosted by Christy McDonald.
The day of the order came Friday, May 26, 2017 and despite the legal wrangling of several immigration lawyers, Juarez accepted her fate and boarded a plane to Mexico.
She’ll be staying with an uncle she’s never met in a country she does not know. She came to the U.S., undocumented, at the age of eight months. Now she’s 23, leaving a husband sick with leukemia and an eighteen-month old son with medical issues of his own. They’re both U.S. citizens, as are her family members that you’ll see in the video.
Jaurez’s story is complicated, growing up for most of her life without parents, surviving the streets of Salinas, California in an area rife with gang violence. She committed crimes as a minor, but while she’s lived an upstanding life for over the past six years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has decided she must leave.
One Detroit will continue coverage of this story and will keep up with her in Mexico and her family in Detroit.
Video: Scenes from Detroit Metro Airport, as Maria Garcia Juarez is deported
Marias Video Diary
We asked Maria to share her thoughts. This is the first installment of her video diary, as she counts down her days to her departure.
21 Days to Exile
A Detroit Public TV and Bridge Magazine collaboration for the Detroit Journalism Cooperative
It all started in Southwest Detroit. As part of our Knight and Kellogg-funded “Roadshows”, Detroit Public TV’s One Detroit team spent three months scouring the area, talking with neighborhood organizations and key stakeholders who then led us to others who could help us tell a complicated and controversial story.
Sixty people and organizations later, our team developed with our new partners a ninety-minute American Black Journal Roadshow broadcast live on Detroit Public Television that focused on issues critical to Southwest Detroit including immigration, environmental justice and education.
Engagement. Partners. Collaboration.
The night before our broadcast, Carine Saleh, a Dearborn attorney who agreed to be on our panel about immigration, contacted Detroit Journalism Cooperative’s regional editor, Scott McCartney. She informed him that her client, Maria Garcia Juarez, had been given orders to leave the United States by May 26th. Because all legal avenues were nearly exhausted, Ms. Saleh was now resorting to media attention to help Maria’s cause. Detroit Public TV and its DJC partner Bridge Magazine debated and investigated the merits of Maria’s story at a rapid pace, because both organizations realized they needed to capture the story in real time.
On May 5th, we launched #21DaystoExile. Both organizations published the first installment of Maria’s story on Thursday, May 11th on Bridge and DPTV’s MiWeek program. New installments are scheduled for May 18th on MiWeek and May 25th on Bridge and MiWeek.
Maria’s situation is complex and intriguing. Her past as a juvenile offender in California, which triggered her deportation, makes for a case that’s not so clear-cut.
Since she came to Michigan five years ago, she got married to an American citizen, she has been employed; she’s been a student, and she’s now raising an 18-month old son.
And then tragedy struck. Her husband discovered recently that he has leukemia. Because her son has health issues, she is afraid to travel to Mexico with him for fear that care there will be inadequate.
One Detroit and Bridge embarked on this three-week storytelling project precisely because Maria’s story is many-layered and raises dozens of questions that we felt would foster a robust public conversation.
Questions like this: What is the immigration process like? How does deporting a person play out? Then there are the existential questions: How long does one have to be in the U.S. before being considered truly American?
#21DaystoExile was never meant to be a targeted indictment of the system, and it is definitely not a Trump vs. Obama polemic (even in light of Washington Posts recent article). Instead, 21 Days is a real-world example of deportation playing out in real time, where both sides of the immigration debate have the space to make valid points. It is an immersive, journalistic experience into the world of immigration and deportation, where viewers can follow the case online with video explainers, raw interviews, case documentation, video diaries and much more.
Along with its coverage of Maria’s story, the Detroit Journalism Cooperative will take a look at other issues concerning immigration here in Detroit. We’ll look the numbers: How many are being deported? Are they dangerous? What’s different now than years past? What rights do immigrants have? We’ve heard stories from people in Southwest Detroit that there is a new fear of government related immigration status. We’ll be telling some of those stories too.
This has yet to be determined. But on May 26th, Maria Garcia Juarez has a decision to make. It is her choice: whether to get on a plane bound for a country that she hasn’t visited since she was eight months old - a country where she knows no one - which would force her to leave behind her infant son and sick husband; or whether to let authorities arrest her and deport her to the place of their choosing.
Whatever Maria decides, Detroit Public TV and Bridge Magazine - as part of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative - will be there, following the story, adding to the conversation, and illuminating and informing our audience, whatever the results may be.
Marriage and Citizenship
In this #OneDetroit Explainer, Alex Vernor of U of D Immigration Law Clinic gives a quick overview of how Marriage and Citizenship work.
In the video paylist below Alex Vernror also answers the following quesitons:
- Doesn't an undocumented person automatically become a US citizen if they marry a US citizen?
- Do you have to leave the country to get citizenship if you are undocumented?
- Who are the people being deported? Is it only undocumented bad Hombres?
- Why don't undocumented people obtain US. citizenship?
- How long is the wait for a VISA?
- Is it common practice for lawyers to seek out advice from other lawyers?
- What happens if I have a grievance with my lawyer or their work?
- If I don't file all my paperwork at the same time, is that an automatic rejection?
- If my lawyer shows malfeasants, can I reopen my case?
- Is it better to over explain your situation in the documetation?
- How do crimes as a minor effect a case?
- HOw can being dubbed a gang member effect your case?
- How long would it take for Maria to get back to the US?
Inside The Interviews
#OneDetroit producers have spent several hours collecting interviews concerning Maria Garcia Juarez’s deportation case. Some of the comments have appeared on Detroit Public Television’s MiWeek program hosted by Christy McDonald and on DPTV’s One Detroit, Detroit Journalism Cooperative and Bridge Magazine websites. Included here are some extended interview segments of interest to those more interested in Juarez’s story.
Erick Orozco- Husband
Jocelyne Garcia - Sister
Corine Saleh - Lawyer
Maria’s story, in her on words
Maria Garcia Juarez explains her life in this five-page document written not long before her 23rdbirthday earlier in May, 2017. As she details here, after her mother brought her to the U.S. at the age of seven or eight months, she had been imprisoned and deported. She hasn’t heard from her since. “I followed the crowd,” Juarez says of her teen years in Salinas, that included truancy, methamphetamine use and a criminal record in 2011 at age 17. While spending time at an immigration holding facility in Virginia, Juarez earned her GED, then coming to the Detroit area to stay with an aunt. She took classes at Baker College, worked steadily, met her husband Erick Orozco soon after, later having a baby boy, David, who has medical issues detailed here. Last Thanksgiving, Orozco had a lot of pain and made trips to several doctors until a diagnosis came. “This is cancer,” Juarez recalls a doctor saying. She explains her family’s struggles with her husband’s leukemia, ongoing treatment and what she thinks will happen if she’s deported to Mexico.
Criminal charges in California
These pages from the Department of Homeland Security detail the crimes Maria Garcia Juarez was charged with, including the car theft, police pursuit and methamphetamine use. The offenses occurred in October, 2011. Other details include a list of tattoos, none of which indicate a connection with gangs in Salinas. The first page is stamped “CRIMINAL ALIEN GANG MEMBER” and makes reference to Juarez as a member of the “La Posada” faction of the Sureno street gang. Juarez says she was never in a gang.
High school transcript
Juarez’s Alisal high school transcript from Salinas shows an average and above average student with grades of C’s, B’s and A’s.
Another letter of support from a math teacher
“Since Maria is far ahead of the rest of the class, she works independently on her Algebra,” wrote math teacher Greg Ludwa in November 2011 in support of Juarez following her arrest for car theft and leading police on a high speed chase. “I highly recommend Maria for any position of employment or area of study. She certainly is an asset to the community, and she will become a productive member of society as she matures.”
A letter of support from a former police officer
This letter in Maria Garcia Juarez’s legal papers was written by educator David Diehl in who’d been a police officer for 25 years in California. “When I first met Maria it became very apparent that she stood apart from the other students that we typically encounter as she was very eager to learn, did not have any difficulty with the assignments and was very motivated to do well academically. ”Diehl continues, “Maria has grown up in an area that is infested in gangs, violence and drug abuse. As such, I am aware of her charges and other issues that she has been involved in; however, I do not feel that she can be placed in the category of a gang member, someone who is violent, or is someone who poses a threat to our community.” #OneDetroit could not reach Diehl for comment but Juarez denies she was a gang member, although some of the documents she’s provided show criminal justice agencies have classified her an one, which has been a factor in the government’s decision to deport her.
Blue Ridge Community College certificate
Maria Garcia Juarez earned her GED while being held at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center in Virginia where she was sent after her arrest in Salinas. She also completed some on-line college classes, one which is represented with this certificate. After her 18th birthday Juarez was allowed to move to Michigan to live with an aunt in Taylor.
Appeal to stay, dismissed in January 2017
Maria Garcia Juarez faced deportation from the time she was arrested in 2011. By 2016, when Barack Obama was still President, the Department of Justice has issued a decision that her application for asylum be denied and that she be deported. These three pages are a copy of the official order.
Juarez has remained in Detroit on appeal, when this judgment made by an immigration judge in January 2017 that the appeal be dismissed. Later in April 2017, Juarez received the phone call that she would have to leave the country in May.
Confirming David Orozco’s illness
This February 2017 letter from the Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit provides Maria Garcia Juarez’s husband’s leukemia and the treatments he’s receiving.
Application For a Stay of Deportation or Removal, February 2017
Maria Garcia Juarez’s attorney Carine Saleh filed this form hoping for consideration because of David Orozco’s leukemia.
Motion to Reopen In Light of New Evidence
Early March 2017: These six pages from Detroit attorney Carine Saleh request Maria’s deportation case be re-open based on her husband Erick Orozco’s leukemia, which was discovered in late 2016. The motion also states Juarez’s criminal history is “offset by her sufficient demonstration of good character and solidified rehabilitation.”
“Mr. Orozco solely looks toward Mrs. Garcia for assistance with daily activities and emotional support. If Mrs. Garcia is deported, Mr. Orozco and the couple’s one year and five month old son, David, will face significant challenges. The son has already overcome multiple medical complications during his short life (such as a cyst on his head that requires periodic monitoring, anemia, and a broken clavicle. Due to Mr. Orozco being physically and emotionally incapable of raising David on his own, Mrs. Garcia would like to take David to Mexico upon deportation. With little or no family support in Mexico, Mrs. Garcia will have difficulty affording proper medical care for David upon a health-related emergency.”
Homeland Security’s recommendation for denial
Later in March 2017: The Department of Homeland Security requests the Board of Immigration Appeals deny Maria Garcia Juarez’s request her case be reopened. The document makes reference that did not take the privilege to “voluntarily depart” following the 2016 deportation decision. At the time Juarez had the choice of leaving the country on her own terms but did not do so.
This document makes reference to Juarez’s drug use in 2011 and is “precluded from demonstrating the 10 years of good moral character.” Assistant Chief Counsel Jason A. Ritter continues, “It is also the position of DHS that an alien that steals an automobile based on her membership in a criminal street gang, or in furtherance of the activities of that criminal street gang, and takes the California Highway Patrol on a high speed pursuit at over 100 miles-per-hour while hopped up on methamphetamines is not entitled to have their proceeding reopened as a matter of discretion.”
Juarez tells Detroit Public Television and Bridge Magazine she associated with gang members during her time in California but denies being a member of a gang.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement letter regarding deportation, April 2017
This letter is the most recent correspondence from the government responding to the application made asking for consideration because of David Orozco’s illness.
“After weighing the factors as related to Prosecutorial Discretion, I have determined that pursuing the removal of Maria Guadalupe GARCIA JUAREZ is the proper enforcement action in this case and is consistent with the core mission of ERO (Enforcement and Removal Operations) and the enforcement priorities of ICE. Your request for a stay of removal is therefore denied,” as signed by James Jacobs, Assistant Field Office Director.