EDITORIAL: Let Grandma from Berwyn and Dreamers stay, President Trump

SHARE EDITORIAL: Let Grandma from Berwyn and Dreamers stay, President Trump

Genoveva Ramirez, 67, of Berwyn talks to reporters outside the Chicago Immigration Customs Enforcement Office downtown, shortly before meeting with immigration officials in May. | Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions brag about their immigration crackdown. They’re going after dangerous criminal aliens, they say, who threaten national security and our nation’s sovereignty.

What they don’t say is they’re going after Grandma. They are deporting people like Genoveva Ramirez, a 67-year-old grandmother of 10 from Berwyn whose only crime in nearly two decades of living in the United States was to drive without a valid license.

And the crackdown could get worse. Young adults and teenagers who already have passed thorough federal government background checks could be next. A five-year-old program to protect them from deportation and allow them to work legally could be rescinded by Trump any day.


Ramirez became entangled in the government’s deportation net in 2013 when a police officer in DuPage County detained her after a traffic stop. Today, under the Trust Act signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Aug. 28, cops in Illinois can’t detain people simply based on their immigration status — but they could and did four years ago.

In 2013, President Barack Obama’s administration was aggressively deporting harmless undocumented immigrants along with violent criminals. The one exception was teenagers and younger adults carefully vetted for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. And now Trump, under pressure from conservatives, has signaled he will end that program.

Obama eventually eased up on the cheapest deportations in his second term and instructed immigration officials to focus on expelling real criminals, not people like Genoveva Ramirez. That spared her from deportation until now. But on Thursday, immigration agents told her if she doesn’t leave the U.S. voluntarily within two months, she will be deported.

Immigration officials are enforcing the president and Sessions’ hard line. “They’re empowered,” Ramirez’s lawyer, Mony Ruiz-Velasco, told us.

Given more time, Ramirez could be allowed to remain in the country legally under a program that sets aside visas for crime victims who cooperate in police investigations. Ramirez was once attacked during a burglary of her home, her lawyer said, and assisted police in their investigation. Her paperwork has been pending for 18 months; it could take two years to hear back from the government.

We can’t imagine why the federal government is burning time and money trying to deport Ramirez and folks like her. And where’s the heart and wisdom in ending the deferred action program for teens and younger adults known as Dreamers?

The president says uncounted numbers of “rapists” and “murderers” have illegally entered our country.

So fine, go after the rapists and murderers, and leave Grandma and the kids alone.

Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com

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