Santiago Nunez, a longtime Stamford resident, was 6 years old when his parents brought him from their native Uruguay to this country. Now 24 years old and married to his childhood sweetheart, Nunez is appealing to a heartless government that wants to deport him to Uruguay.
The only crime attached to his name is that his family came here without documented papers.
The action by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is wrong on many levels. Nunez has been employed and contributing to
society; he is a family man, married to longtime Stamford resident Gabriela Vahos, who is a citizen, since May 5, 2018; he is not a felon or a threat to this country.
Aside from the fact that ICE should focus on serious criminals, we are alarmed that the agents would go after someone who in the previous administration would have met all the criteria for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — also called Dreamers.
We are getting into dangerous territory when ICE begins to go after Dreamers. These are young people who through no fault of their own were brought without documents to this country as little children.
And we are gravely concerned the atmosphere in this country is going to get worse.
President Donald Trump threatened this week to “begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.” His Monday night tweets were not the way to set policy — ICE was unaware he would do that — and it’s questionable whether the agency even has the capacity to carry out the president’s wishes.
Perhaps the threat was setting the stage for his re-election announcement at an Orlando, Fla. rally Tuesday. But even if Trump’s threat is only political and cannot be carried out, the harm is done by feeding the divisiveness in this country. It is a hot-button issue the president will keep pushing throughout his campaign, as he has done for his three years in office.
Connecticut might feel somewhat protected through recent legislation to strengthen the Trust Act. First adopted in 2013, the act prohibits local law enforcement from acting with federal immigration agents except when someone is on the federal terrorist watch list or has been convicted of a major felony. Amendments passed in the recent General Assembly session removed five other exemptions. The purpose is to encourage undocumented residents to cooperate with local police without fear of retribution.
Santiago Nunez and Gabriela Vahos were not in Connecticut when trouble started in February; Nunez had joined his wife to live in California two months earlier. They were touring the Grand Canyon to celebrate their first married Valentine’s Day when police stopped their car, discovered Nunez was undocumented and turned him over to ICE. The couple desperately has been appealing, but on Monday an immigration court judge in Arizona ordered Nunez deported to Uruguay.
This is a misdirection of power. ICE should focus on hardened criminals, not people who came here as children. And the president should try to unify the country, not prey on animosity.