‘You are breaking a family apart’

The following article has been updated: “Breaking a Family Apart.”


NEW PALTZ, NEW YORK: Joel Guerrero, a green card holder and New Paltz resident, was arrested at his biannual check-in appointment with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on March 1 in New York City.

He was accompanied by his wife Jessica, a U.S. citizen who is six months pregnant with their first child.

ICE arrested Guerrero at his appointment on the grounds that Joel had once missed a court date—in 2009. Guerrero has attended every court date since that missed one, but nonetheless ICE this week put a deportation order in effect for the single court appearance that he missed seven years ago.

In a report on social media, Guerrero’s wife Jessica described the scene: “The ICE officer was literally ripping me from my husband’s arms. I really don’t know how I remained calm, but I turned to him and said, ‘You are breaking a family apart. I hope you are able to sleep well tonight.’ This is our country today. This is America.”

This morning, March 2, Guerrero’s case officer put him in front of a judge without representation, and the judge ordered his deportation.

Guerrero should have had representation made available to him, and he should have been offered other options, such as filing a motion for spousal relief. It is reported that his case officer falsely told him that these options and several others are not available to him, even though they are.

Joel Guerrero is a carpenter and is caretaker for his fifteen-year-old nephew Ryan, whose mother is too ill to take care of him. Under Joel and Jessica’s care, it is reported that Ryan is now getting the best grades he has ever gotten. Joel is beloved in his community and we hope the community will rally for his legal rights to be honored, after an extraordinary series of violations by ICE.

* * * *
The above post started to be circulated earlier today on Facebook and Twitter. Much appreciation goes to Jynne Dilling and many other activists who shared it and re-shared it. Several personal friends of mine wrote testimonials extolling Guerrero’s character and bedrock place in the New Paltz community.

Guererro’s family has been put in touch with the Immigrant Defense Project, a group that has many resources for families affected by the current situation across the nation and for communities (like New Paltz) who want to help members who have been unfairly detained. The Immigrant Defense Project’s phone number is (212) 725-6422.

In online conversations, one individual also suggested the Legal Aid Society of New York’s Immigration Law Unit. That organization’s help line is (844) 955-3425.

* * * *
As with the other ICE detention stories that I have been covering here and elsewhere, I will update this when more information becomes available.

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  1. nonsmokingladybug · March 2, 2017

    This is sickening and inhuman.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lifelessons · March 2, 2017

    Bravo. Thanks to you for getting some of the good news out in addition to the horrors we hear every day. And thanks to those who defend the rights of the unfairly persecuted.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Breaking a Family Apart | The Gad About Town
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  5. Anonymous · March 4, 2017

    Obviously his card was no valid when immigration picked him up, or would have been release no problem like a good friend of mine. Seriously though his wife is out of control of she cared and loved him so much why wasn’t she on top of his card status knowing Trump is in office and wants to do a clean and sweep of illegal immigrants?


    • Mark Aldrich · March 4, 2017

      Read the article before blaming the victim, please.

      Thanks for the comment, as comments almost always help me refine my writing towards greater clarity.

      I usually do not reply to anonymous comments. Most of the time, I leave them in the Spam-catcher, but this one captures a bit of what has been lost: empathy.

      You are safe in Kansas and think this doesn’t touch you.


  6. Anonymous · March 4, 2017

    I have no empathy for him due to the fact he still missed one and it takes only one mistake. That’s life, and honestly seeing the news and hearing how trump wants to get rid of illegal immigrants he should have tried to fix things before it got messy.


    • Mark Aldrich · March 5, 2017

      If it was your friend or brother, you’d be on the front lines for him. Wearing your lack of empathy like an award you have earned means you fit right in with the majority of the nation right now.


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