Illegal Aliens Get Caught. Oregon is asked to be Sympathetic to their Plight.

June 26, 2006


From the Oregoian Editorial page.

If you could custom-order dream neighbors, you’d ask for a family like the Diazes. They work hard, pay their taxes, keep up their double-wide manufactured home in Beaverton’s Heritage Village Mobile Home Park, and play by the rules — most of the time.
There are exceptions. And the family could soon be broken up because of them. Four of the five family members have been, at some point or other, illegal immigrants. The mother and two oldest children are scheduled to be deported July 17. Their neighbors say illegal immigration is wrong, but sending the Diazes back to Guatemala would be wrong, too.
Fifteen years ago, Luis Diaz fled Guatemala after he was threatened for organizing a union. After arriving in Hillsboro, he applied for asylum for himself and his family and won permission to work while his case was being reviewed.
Three years later, Diaz’s wife, Irma, and the couple’s two oldest children followed a coyote over the border and reunited the family, illegally. Irma Diaz and her children applied separately for asylum, but in much shorter order they were turned down. In 1997, Irma Diaz ignored an order to leave, betting — wrongly — that her husband would eventually win his asylum case here, and with it a place for his family in this country.
Recently, Luis Diaz’s case did conclude, but the ruling went against him. In the half a generation since he came here, the political climate has shifted in Guatemala. The judge concluded Diaz’s life was no longer in danger, hence he had no right to asylum. But sending Diaz back to start a new life now — he turns 45 on July 15 — doesn’t seem exactly fair, either.
With no job prospects in Guatemala, Diaz says, he’ll stay here while his case is on appeal, along with the couple’s 11-year-old daughter, Jennifer, a U.S. citizen. He’ll work here and send money to Irma, Luis Jr. and Monica Diaz, who have been ordered to leave. The family’s only hope now — and it’s a distant one — is a private bill Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., is planning to introduce on their behalf. A House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration could then request a stay, to keep the Diazes together at least until the father exhausts his appeals. That is reasonable.

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