When the Republican National Convention opens Monday, Democrats are probably going to insist on running an ongoing fact check of GOP speakers — particularly President Donald Trump.
If only they’d insisted on a similar fact check for their own convention.
There are plenty of reasons why, but let’s take the case of Alejandra Juarez. She’s the mother of 11-year-old Estela Juarez, who made headlines this past week when she spoke at the convention about how her mother was deported to Mexico in 2018.
“Instead of protecting us, you tore our world apart,” Estela said, addressing Trump. “Every day that passes, you deport more moms and dads and take them away from kids like me.”
The problem is that Alejandra Juarez was marked for deportation in 1998, and then flagged by immigration officials in 2013 — both times under Democratic administrations, not Republican ones.
“It wasn’t Trump that went out and found this woman. It was Biden,” Andrew R. “Art” Arthur, a senior fellow with the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Washington Times.
Juarez’s first brush with deportation was during the Bill Clinton administration — and it came shortly after she arrived in the country. On May 21, 1998, she was caught while trying to cross the border and promptly issued an expedited order of removal. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says she had falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen during the process.
ICE says that just two days later, she attempted the crossing again. She was caught again and again said she was a citizen, according to the agency. She “withdrew her application” and admitted she was fibbing, The Times reported, then waited a short time before re-entering again undetected.
According to Stars and Stripes, she would go on to marry Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Juarez, a Marine and National Guardsman. This caused a certain amount of cloudiness, because — as Stars and Stripes pointed out — “[t]raditionally, spouses and family of U.S. military members have enjoyed a certain latitude from immigration authorities. People like Alejandra Juarez would be tagged, but left in place.”
Some, therefore, blame Alejandra Juarez’s 2018 deportation on the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” illegal immigration policies. Certainly, that was the impression we got when Estela Juarez read out her letter.
The problem with that is, however, that Alejandra Juarez’s deportation saga began anew back in 2013 — under the Obama administration.
Her identification was likely the result of a program that expanded the use of fingerprint checks by local police to identify illegal immigrants.
The program, Secure Communities, was originally a Bush-era initiative, though the Obama administration “vastly expanded” it, according to The Times. While fingerprints would normally be sent to the FBI to see if the person in question had outstanding warrants or a criminal record, Secure Communities allowed the fingerprints to be shared with the Department of Homeland Security so ICE could flag illegal aliens who it wished to deport.
“In Mrs. Juarez’s case, it was the 2013 encounter in Iowa that alerted Homeland Security to a deported migrant who reentered the U.S. without permission,” The Times reported.
“ICE then renewed the 1998 deportation order.”
While ICE didn’t necessarily pursue her deportation under then-President Barack Obama — The Times used the term “slow-walked” — it also didn’t revoke the deportation order, either.
Furthermore, immigration authorities weren’t able to normalize her status thanks to the fact that she had been deported in 1998 and quickly re-entered the country, which is a felony. Their best chance to normalize her — which Arthur says would have been if Juarez had been put into normal deportation proceedings where she could have made her case to stay in the country and have the deportation order revoked — didn’t happen because Obama’s ICE didn’t do this.
“You can blame the Trump administration all you want. The problem is the Obama administration decided to reinstate the prior order,” Arthur said.
Estela says her father cast his ballot for President Trump in 2016 but does not plan to do so again this year. One certainly can’t blame the man, given how close he is to the situation.
However, he had a different take on the president’s complicity in 2018.
“I don’t blame him at all because the laws were already on the books, so he was just enforcing them,” he said.
Juarez was originally deported under Clinton. And while she was deported the second time under Trump — thanks to a deportation order dating back to the Clinton administration — the Obama administration had three years and change to make sure that didn’t happen. (It’s not as though Joe Biden was banging on the Oval Office door to change the policies or deportation order that eventually led to her being removed from the country in 2018.)
In 2020, thanks to one party’s willingness to exploit an 11-year-old girl, Estela Juarez was addressing a convention at which both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were also featured speakers in order to assure America none of this would have happened if the Democrats were in office.
If only those two men, with their combined 16 years in office, could have done something about it.
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