Legal Immigrant to be Deported for 28-Year-Old Crime

October 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Dominican immigrant Eligio Valerio is a taxi driver and soon-to-be grandfather who has been working legally in the US with a green card for decades. But last week, immigration made a visit to his home. They took him into custody and began deportation proceedings because of a 1982 gun conviction. He has told advocates he kept an illegal gun in the Washington Heights bodega he had back then for protection. He did no jail time, just three years probation. But now, almost 30 years later, his name is on a list of criminal aliens to be deported. Valerio was released on bail Thursday, and at a press conference, he made a brief, and almost tearful, statement thanking the press and local and state elected officials for the attention they have drawn to his case. Valerio is being deported for a crime for which he was sentenced only to probation and, since then, he has raised an American family and, they say, has been an upstanding, tax-paying, legal resident of the US. Opponents of immigration reform support the deportation of immigrants who have committed crimes, whether or not family members are left behind. Obama administration officials are pushing for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants here illegally, as well as more discretion in cases involving families. But they have said that, in order to enact that kind of reform, the federal government has to step up enforcement of existing laws. Meanwhile, immigrant advocates say the Department of Homeland Security is deporting the very immigrants President Obama has said he wants to allow to stay here with increasing speed. And they see Eligio Valerio as the perfect example.
(wnyc)

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