Last month, less than a week into office, President Trump said his administration would publish a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants in the U.S. Though he might not have had a teenage art student with a minor pot possession charge in mind for that list, that teenager is now suffering the consequences of the White House’s anti-immigrant, pro-deportation rhetoric.
When Josue Romero, a 19-year-old living in San Antonio, Texas was busted last week smoking a joint, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told him that he’d be deported to Honduras, as reported by the San Antonio Express-News and High Times.
Romero is one of the DREAMers granted a work permit under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This work permit can be revoked for a “significant misdemeanor,” but ICE officials told Romero that he would lose his for a simple possession charge of “2 ounces or less of marijuana.” The charge is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas and carries a penalty of up to 180 days in jail.
Romero, who came from Honduras when he was four, was released from ICE custody without being deported or given an explanation for his release. “I can’t describe how I feel. I just want to break down and cry,” Romero said. “I was kind of devastated. Because I’ve never known a life outside of San Antonio.”
It’s a lucky break for Romero, but troubling for other DACA-protected immigrants in the lack of transparency or even logic seen in ICE’s actions. The agency only released a statement which managed effectively not to comment on the particulars of the case. “Romero-Velasquez was issued a final order of removal by an immigration judge Dec. 3, 2004,” it said. “ICE remains focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes threats to national security, public safety and border security.”
A recent memoranda from the Trump administration put plans into action which would accelerate and expand deportations across the country. In a tweet, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro said that was told by ICE officials recently that, “Only dreamers with no offenses (including traffic tickets) or perceived gang affiliations seem exempt” from deportation.
Photo via Flickr user Alaska Carter