Nery Diaz says, “It’s just like a nightmare we’re living right now.”
Marinela Martinez-Magana showed up to pay a traffic ticket Wednesday, but was led away in handcuffs. Now Martinez-Magana is being held in the Morrow County Detention Center awaiting deportation.
Diaz, Marinela’s partner, adds, “I don’t wish this for nobody, you know? And I wish, just hoping, that she can get out and be with her kids again.”
Marinela’s children are ages eight, three, and one. They are all US citizens, just wanting to see their mom again.
Flor Martinez, Marinela’s sister, says, “The little one, he’s all the time asking for his mom. It’s too hard to see that. At the night, they want their mommy back.”
A 2011 US Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) policy change called the “Morton Memo” said ICE would focus on deporting high risk individuals.
Fatin Askar, Marinela’s attorney, says, “Foreign nationals that pose threats to society, not people like Marinela that are responsible citizens that are just here to take care of their families.”
The memo told officials to use a “prosecutorial discretion” to spare low risk undocumented immigrants from immediate deportation and listed factors to consider.
One such factor was the length the undocumented worker has been in the US. Marinela has been in the US since 2004 when she was 17. Another factor focuses on the circumstances of her arrival. Marinela was fleeing a civil war in El Salvador. One factor even considers whether undocumented immigrants have a spouse or child with US citizenship. Marinela has three children that are US citizens.
In all, Marinela qualifies for prosecutorial discretion based on eleven factors listed in the “Morton Memo.”
Askar adds, “It’s really just even a temporary stay and that’s all we’re asking for. It’s not much. But, it’s just something where she doesn’t have to keep looking over her shoulders.”
Ruben Herrera of the Central Ohio Worker Center says, “We’re just talking about families. It’s plain and simple. How do we keep families together that have contributed in every way? We don’t want to break them up.”
An ICE official emailed NBC4 a statement that read: ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of criminals, recent border crossers, and egregious immigration law violators, such as those who have been previously removed from the United States. The agency exercises prosecutorial discretion, on a case by case basis, as necessary to focus resources on these priorities.
Such decisions are based on the merits of each case, the factual information provided to the agency and the totality of individuals’ circumstances, including the nature of any criminal history, their length of presence in the United States and ties to the community.
The ICE official also told NBC4, Marinela’s case would be reviewed. Her attorney tells NBC4 Marinela could be deported as soon as Tuesday.