Brenda Castro, an undocumented immigrant from Honduras, has two U.S.-born children, lives in New Orleans and has been in the country since 2008. Though she has a misdemeanor for attempted theft and a prior deportation, immigrant rights advocates are confident she would qualify for the deportation relief program announced last year by the Obama administration.
The courts have blocked the implementation of that program, however, while a lawsuit against Obama's executive actions proceeds. When Castro went to check in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement this past Monday, as she has done regularly in the four years since her deportation case began, they told her she would have to wear an ankle monitor -- which advocates say could signal that authorities are thinking about removing her from the country.
“It makes no sense that after four years of checking in they would put me in the ISAP program,” Castro said, referring to the Intensive Supervision and Appearance Program, an alternative to detention through which ankle monitors are administered. “For me, this is a humiliation.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not respond to a request for information about Castro’s case.
Castro would appear to be the kind of person President Barack Obama had in mind when he said in November that his new policy would make it a priority to keep law-abiding families together. One part of that policy, a program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, or DAPA, offers work authorization and deportation relief to undocumented parents of U.S. citizens who have lived in the country for five years and who pass a background check. Roughly 4.1 million people are believed to be eligible for DAPA.
Castro, a 39-year-old mother of three, works cleaning homes in New Orleans, where she says she has lived since 2008. She says she moved there to join her husband, who went there shortly after Hurricane Katrina to work in construction. She has joined civic efforts to advocate for immigration reform, and appeared on MSNBC earlier this month to show her support for deportation relief.
But with 26 states suing to overturn Obama’s executive actions on immigration, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction earlier this month to keep the Obama administration from implementing the executive actions announced in November.
With DAPA blocked, people like Castro continue to face the risk of deportation, advocates say.
“We know she’s not a priority and she would qualify for DAPA,” Fernando Lopez, an organizer with the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, told The Huffington Post. “This is a pattern we’ve been seeing with our members -- even though these people qualify [for DAPA] and ICE should be reviewing these cases, it’s not something that is actually happening... They’re being asked to bring their plane tickets or another stay of removal.”
Despite getting slapped with an ankle monitor, Castro says she’s confident DAPA will eventually triumph in the courts and she will win relief from deportation.
“I qualify for DAPA,” Castro said. “I’m not afraid.”