THE BLOG
09/26/2014 01:19 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Deported to Death

Mauricio Avila, at the 9/11 memorial for the first time since he worked to clear the grounds of rubble

Even as the border children slow and their cases surge in states like Texas and New York, advocates point out what they said would obviously happen: we sent at least some of those children to their deaths after deporting them back to warzone-like conditions.

They aren't alone, however: 9/11 Ground Zero workers are offered limited healthcare at Mt. Sinai's 9/11 workers clinic. This is a clinic located in NYC, and the cost of getting there is not the only obstacle: undocumented workers are still under constant threat of deportation away from this clinic, even after getting terminal illnesses working at Ground Zero for which they require treatment.

These are exactly the types of people that Obama could have broken with his record-setting deportation streak for, however, he has opted to delay his reform via executive order. He knows that Republicans will not become more reasonable on immigration: he should also know that many people will be deported to their deaths by the deportation machine he has allowed to grow out of control. 9/11 workers and border children are just two of many examples of those we will be deporting to their deaths.

The border children haven't had an easy start to their lives. The atrocities named by the survivors in Honduras, Guatamala and El Salvador are akin to what you would expect of ISIS, like dismembered high school girls' bodies being strewn along the road to high school as a reminder to the other girls to submit to whatever the gang wants of you.

After being chased from their homes by gangs who regularly sex-traffic or murder locals, many of them didn't survive the desert or "The Beast," a train my own friend described killing a man in front of him, cutting off his arm when he fell. Those who do survive all these trials often do so with scars as many are beaten, robbed and sexually assaulted on the train or in the lawless desert. They then meet demonstrators at the border or at facilities like those at Murrieta, spitting and screaming "nobody wants you," before they are brought to a "warehouse" where they stay in kennel-like conditions.

After all of this, they are then taken into a court which, to an 8 year old who comes alone and cannot speak English, is terrifying. From there, many have been deported to countries with such violence that we could offer them something like Temporary Protected Status so that anyone who survives this trek from the three countries suffering the most could stay here temporarily. We have had reports that confirm at least some of those deported children have been murdered, and most likely there are more than we haven't been able to confirm.

"These courts are meat markets where human beings are processed as quickly as possible, often without the assistance of an attorney, even though they're children," said Miguel Palmeiro, an attorney volunteering in court to help them. "The state of our immigration system makes a sad joke of Due Process, something so important the Founders put it in the Bill of Rights. The best we can typically do for them is buy them more time as an overwhelmed docket tries to adjust." Other interviews with attorneys in court for the border children say almost exactly the same thing every time.

Another group sorely deserving and in need of executive action are the 9/11 Ground Zero workers. When New York City was on fire, they came up and worked 12 hour days on the smouldering, toxic remains that still contained people screaming for help. They heard the screams and pulled them out. Then, they heard the silence, and still they continued to pull them out, even after the bodies began to rot into a grimly visceral episode of The Walking Dead in the summer heat.

"My supervisor told me not to wear my mask," said Mauricio. He was an asbestos worker at Ground Zero, and, being experienced, brought his own mask: he was merely asking his supervisor what filter to use. He trusted his supervisor, who trusted the Environmental Protection Agency, who told the workers that the air at Ground Zero was safe. It was not.

"I now have asthma, laryngitis, screws in my spinal column from a fall, rhinitis, sinusitis and depression from what I saw. Once, my team found a boot. There was a foot inside of it, but we couldn't find the rest of the body," he said. "My wife has the same problems, but also throat cancer. We kept asking the doctors at the clinic and they told her it was okay. One day we went to another doctor, and he told us it was cancer right away."

Mauricio's interview was conducted at the 9/11 Memorial. Once he saw it, he became a bit shaken up. "I haven't been here since I finished working. I was there three days after I watched the second plane hit the towers, and I haven't wanted to come back," said Mauricio, commenting that he thought the memorial was beautiful. He then told me that he believed that deportation would be a death sentence for him.

"I am on many different medicines for my illnesses, and so is my wife. If we were deported, we would lose our access to this through the clinic," Mauricio said. He worries about what would happen to their children if that happened. "When police see the 9/11 workers card, they stop caring about our immigration status," said Mauricio, who told me more than one worker had to show the police proof that he was working at Ground Zero to save himself from being turned in to immigration. This is a sentiment shared by most NYPD officers, however, it is not the guarantee they deserve.

The needs of our immigration system are far greater than these two examples show, but it helps to highlight the desperation that is felt by many of the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the US who have escaped the sort of nightmares that people like the demonstrators at Murrieta simply cannot imagine, do not understand or have turned a cold and malignant heart towards. The list of those who both need and deserve help, whether they are border children, 9/11 workers or even deported veterans or people who missed receiving DACA status because they were a few days too old, seems to stretch on and on. It will continue to do so until relief is offered, in one form or another.