A federal appeals judge declared he lacks authority to prevent removal of a 28-year resident of the U.S. here illegally, but called the action “inhumane” as well as “unfair and unjust” and far from President Trump’s promise of an immigration system with “a lot of heart.”
Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Tuesday the court is compelled to deny Andres Magana Ortiz’s request for an emergency stay of his removal from Hawaii and deportation to Mexico. “In doing so, the government forces us to participate in ripping apart a family,” he wrote.
“The government’s insistence on expelling a good man from the country in which he has lived for the past 28 years deprives his children of their right to be with their father, his wife of her right to be with her husband, and our country of a productive and responsible member of our community,” Reinhardt wrote.
‘Good Hombres Are Not Safe’
Ortiz came to the U.S. at age 15 and is now 43 years old. He has a U.S. citizen wife and three children 12, 14 and 20, all American citizens. Ortiz built a coffee farming business in Hawaii and worked with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture researching coffee crop pests in Hawaii and allowed the U.S. to use his farm without charge to conduct a five-year study.
Although Ortiz has two convictions for driving under the influence, the last one was 14 years ago and even the government conceded there is no question of his good moral character, Reinhardt said.
A 2014 immigration case against him concluded with a decision to remove him. Ortiz sought and was granted a stay of that order while he pursued legal status. In November 2016, he asked for additional time. In March 2017, without explanation, the government reversed its position and ordered him removed in April. Ortiz appealed. The request was denied May 17 and he asked the 9th Circuit to intervene.
The appeals court ruled it had no authority to block the removal order.
After successfully building a family, a home and a business, Ortiz will be subject to a 10-year ban on his return, preventing him from being with his wife and children, Reinhardt said.
“This was not the necessary result,” he said. Ortiz has nearly completed a process to obtain legal status on the basis of his wife and children’s citizenship. He was asked to stay in his home to complete the process.
Instead, he was ordered deported immediately. “Subjecting vulnerable children to a choice between expulsion to a foreign land or losing the care and support of their father is not how this nation should treat its citizens,” Reinhardt wrote.
“President Trump has claimed that his immigration policies would target the ‘bad hombres’. The government’s decision to remove Magana Ortiz shows that even the ‘good hombres’ are not safe,” the judge said.
Ortiz and his family are not the only victims, Reinhardt lamented. “Among the others are judges who, forced to participate in such inhumane acts, suffer a loss of dignity and humanity as well,” he concluded.
Case Ortiz v. Sessions, No. 17-116014