Theresa Vargas reports in the Washington Post:
“BALTIMORE — For months, Veronica Castro had dreaded Tuesday, when she was scheduled to check in with immigration officials.
The undocumented immigrant didn’t know whether she would be detained and deported to Mexico or allowed to return home with her husband, a disabled veteran, and their four children, all U.S. citizens who live in Lothian, Md.
On Tuesday, as she and her husband stood in a crowded office in the George H. Fallon Federal Building here, their fears were allayed in less than 30 minutes.
Immigration officials gave Castro another year before she would have to check in again.
“I’m happy,” she said in Spanish, smiling.
“It’s raining, but it’s a wonderful day,” said her husband, Ricardo Pineda, who served in the Army for six years and reached the rank of sergeant. “We get another year, one more year to be together, and hopefully more.”
Three clergy members had accompanied the family into the immigration office, a tiny room with 11 chairs and a flier on the wall that warned of an MS-13 member wanted for murder in Honduras. As they stood in the elevator heading down, a stranger noticed them and asked if there were religious services in the building.
“God is everywhere,” Pineda told him.
Outside, a crowd had gathered to show the family support. Among them was a pastor who had traveled from Chicago and local immigration rights activists who had formed groups only after President Trump’s inauguration. They held signs to let the family know they weren’t alone. “We love you,” read one. “Safety for all,” read others.
Those in the crowd had prayed together and listened as Castro told them her family’s story. The 38-year-old told them about her husband’s medical needs. Pineda, 47, received a medical discharge from the Army and takes medication for diabetes, depression and pain in a hand he injured during combat training. She told them about her four children, two of whom have disabilities. The couple’s 14-year-old son has cerebral palsy and their 17-year-old was left with brain damage after heart surgery as a toddler. His mother helps him bathe, get dressed and walk to and from the bus each day.”
Kudos to everyone involved here. To Sgt. Pineda and Ms. Castro for having the courage to do the right thing by reporting in accordance with the law and for trusting in “the system.”
To the ICE officials in Baltimore who took the time to understand the facts and had the courage to exercise discretion and do the right thing by allowing Ms. Castro to stay. ICE is taking lots of grief from lots of folks these days (including me), and it’s a good reminder that the overwhelming majority of ICE Officers, including most that I have known over the years, are conscientious professionals doing a very hard job and who, when allowed to do so, often use their discretion to to save individuals that the “law has forgotten.”
And, of course, we shouldn’t forget the couple’s lawyer and the many friends and community supporters who stood with them during this difficult time.
Finally, we only learn about these incidents, both good and bad, from fine reporters like Theresa Vargas who take the time to cover the “human side” of the immigration drama from all angles.