An exasperated federal judge on Tuesday took the unusual step of slamming the Trump administration's push to deport a father back to Mexico, calling it as "inhumane" and "contrary to the values of this nation."
US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt said the court lacked the authority to block the March deportation order, paving the way for Andres Magana Ortiz's expulsion to Mexico.
Magana Ortiz came to the US illegally in 1989 when he was 15. The Hawaii businessman was well established in the coffee farming industry and worked with the US Department of Agriculture in researching pests afflicting the island’s coffee crops, allowing the government to use his farm without charge to conduct a five-year study, the opinion states.
The 43-year-old undocumented immigrant has two driving under the influence convictions, the most recent one being 14 years ago. He was in the process of trying to obtain legal status through his wife when the federal government moved to deport him immediately.
“In doing so, the government forces us to participate in ripping apart a family,” Reinhardt wrote in his opinion. “Three United States-citizen children will now have to choose between their father and their country.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials did not immediately return a request for comment.
Reinhardt has a reputation for being the outspoken, politically divisive, and “reigning liberal lion” of the Ninth Circuit, according to Law360. Still, William Stock, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said this opinion stuck out for the judge's "calling out of the president in particular, and highlighting the inconsistency between the president's campaign rhetoric and this case."
"It would be more usual to speak of ‘the government's’ action in a particular case, rather than personalizing his opinion with the president himself," Stock told BuzzFeed News.
Reinhardt noted Trump signed a series of executive orders that did away with priorities that guided ICE and Border Patrol agents in determining who to deport, putting virtually anyone living illegally in the US at risk of deportation.
Now, he added, even officers of the law are being forced to comply, regardless of their personal beliefs.
"Magana Ortiz and his family are in truth not the only victims," Reinhardt wrote. "Among the others are judges who, forced to participate in such inhumane acts, suffer a loss of dignity and humanity as well. I concur as a judge, but as a citizen, I do not."
Adolfo Flores is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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