Family Values


Consider this tale. Claudia Noonan came here from Ireland. There was a potato famine that caused the raven-haired beauty and her husband to immigrate to America. They both qualified for protective status. Her husband applied for and received the legal permission to remain in the United States. Claudia did not apply.

Over the next five years, they started a family. Soon they had two precious daughters. The youngest was born with developmental disabilities. Although, with a smile that will one day break hearts, you would never be able to tell she had anything wrong with her.

Claudia and her husband worked hard to provide a good life for their children. They were living the American dream.

One day, Claudia got ticketed by a cop. She was parked in a No Parking Zone. She didn’t have a driver’s license. After they ran her prints, the authorities found out she had over stayed her visa.

Our system of laws are such that even though she has committed no real crime, even though her husband and children are here legally, even though our tax dollars would be better spent going after actual criminals, Claudia is facing deportation.

Going home isn’t an option. Local terrorists like to target folks who have come back from America. Being kidnapped for ransom is a real possibility for Claudia. Being raped and murdered is a more likely outcome.

Is it really in our country’s best interest to break up a family and ship the mother off to certain death? Is this justice? Does our “One Size Fits All” immigration policy make any sense? Of course it doesn’t. This scenario is brought to us by the same folks who have pursued a War on Terrorism, War on Drugs, War on Poverty and a War on Common Sense with much the same results.

I have to make an adjustment to the story. Claudia’s last name isn’t Noonan. It is Nunez. Instead of looking like Maureen O’Hara, she resembles a pre-Columbian Tricia Helfer. She isn’t from Ireland, but rather El Salvador. She isn’t going to be killed by the IRA. Her life will be taken by a group called MS 13. Newsweek calls them The Most Dangerous Gang in America.

Claudia Nunez wants nothing more than to live her life with her family, here in Nashville, Tennessee. Is that a death penalty offense? Is it even a deportable one?

Reasonable people can disagree about our immigration policy–or lack of one. What reasonable people must agree on is that we have actual criminals, who have committed crimes that far exceed the administrative sins of Claudia, who deserve whatever punishment awaits them. Our courts have far better things to do than to separate children from their mother for jay-walking.

In the coming days, hopefully you will hear more about Claudia and her fate. The folks who are good at this sort of thing will organize petitions and campaigns to influence the courts to get her off of the deportation track and onto the legal resident track.

As for me, I’ll be thinking about the two little girls who might lose their mommy.

Also on the case:

Aunt B

Chris Wage

Sean Braisted

John Hutchmo 


16 Responses to “Family Values”

  1. Exador Says:

    So, WHY did Claudia not apply for legal status?Nice tearjerker story, by the way.

  2. Katherine Coble Says:

    What he said.

  3. Mack Says:

    There is no system in place for Claudia to have applied for "legal status". She could have applied for, and recieved an extention of her particular visa that would have given her an additional 6 months. It’s a complicated process, and requires frequent trips to Memphis, or, in her case New Orleans.

  4. Katherine Coble Says:

    According to the Scene article Nunez could have applied for protective status:"She arrived in the U.S. legally from her native El Salvador on July 4, 2001, and was issued a six-month tourist visa. That was five years ago. She never left and didn’t apply for protective status, which she probably would have qualified for."In retrospect this complicated process (which many others have done) would have been a damn sight LESS complicated than ending up in jail and possibly being seperated from her family.And in retrospect aren’t frequent trips to New Orleans a bit better than one big long trip back to El Salvador?

  5. john h Says:

    Katherine – At one point, protected status was available for El Salvadorian refugees. That status changed under President Bush. I don’t understand why nor I am implying criticism of Bush, but according to what I heard last night, protected status was not available to Claudia

  6. Exador Says:

    So, was she visiting the US for a vacation (tourist VISA) and then changed her mind and decided to stay? Or did she enter the US under false pretenses, before knowingly remaining illegally for five years before being caught?

  7. Mack Says:

    Exador, intent is always one of the hardest things to prove. Really, does it matter? The act of overstaying a visa is not even a crime. It’s a civil infraction, akin to filing your taxes late. So, there should be penalties, fines, for instance, but deportation, particularly to a dangerous country, seems to me to be a life sentence for jay-walking.

  8. john h Says:

    Mack – did I mis-state when I said that El Salvadorians are no longer issued ‘protected status’ by the US?

  9. Sarcastro Says:

    I was under the impression that she had missed the deadline that would have given her the same protected status as the husband. Exador, if you want to bring up crime and punishment, we can. In a fair world, she would be sentenced to two weekends of working at the recycling center. Know what I mean?

  10. Exador Says:

    Mack,Intent is really where I’m going. If she lied on her VISA in order to get into the country, with the intent of staying, that’s basically the same thing as running across the Rio Grande.That cuts into the whole "it’s just a paperwork error" argument.

  11. Mack Says:

    John, no, you did not mis-state. Had she met the deadline to apply, it would have amounted to a 6 mo extension, in her case.Exador, how will we ever know? Like I said, intent is a bitch to prove. One thing, though, she was quite young when she applied for this visa. Who among us didn’t do some irresponsible stuff when we were young? Also, if escaping certain danger, who among us wouldn’t outright lie to save our hides?

  12. Sarcastro Says:

    I’ll remember this attitude Exador when the IRS wants to audit the last seven years of your tax returns.

  13. Katherine Coble Says:

    Everybody screws up. She screwed up. The U.S. screwed up. The point is that it needs to be fixed.

  14. Exador Says:

    Et tu, Sarcastro?

  15. Katherine Coble Says:

    He’s a dad now. It’s made him all soft and squishy in parts.

  16. Sarcastro Says:

    That, and an aversion to exercise and salads.

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