Raul Rodriguez wakes up each morning wondering if today is the day that the Border Patrol descends on him and deports him back to México. Rodriguez, like many other immigrants, lives in fear. Fear, that he poignantly imparted on others as a former Border Patrol Agent. Yes, Rodriguez used to deport immigrants for a living and now he fears his own deportation.
You read that correctly, a former Border Patrol Agent fears being deported.
But the story of Raul Rodriguez goes further than a former Border Patrol Agent waiting to be deported by his former colleagues. His case proves that arguing that immigrants should immigrate the “right way” is not as simple as it sounds.
Raul Rodriguez started working for the immigration services in 2000. His job included processing immigrants, including deporting them. Rodriguez found out recently that he was born in México after he attempted to help his brother immigrate to the U.S. The immigration processors discovered that Raul Rodriguez had a birth certificate in his name on México.
According to news reports, Rodriguez says he was not aware of the Mexican birth certificate and instead believed the U.S. one he had used was his real birth certificate. After consulting with his father, Rodriguez learned the truth that he was born in México.
He was fired from the Border Patrol and a criminal investigation soon cleared him of fraudulently submitting a false document – his birth certificate – for his brother’s immigration paperwork because Rodriguez did not know about the Mexican birth certificate until the government discovered it.
But now Raul Rodriguez faces deportation because the law denies the naturalization for anyone using a fraudulent document. Although the case is yet to be adjudicated, his life in America remains in limbo.
Rodriguez’ case addresses a couple of issues that those advocating that immigrants “do it the right way” do not understand.
First Raul Rodriguez believed he was a U.S. citizen because his parents lied to him. Rodriguez served in the military and worked at the Border Patrol. The crime that was committed was by his parents for lying to him.
Yet the law makes no provision for this under Donald Trump’s draconian immigration dictums. Those arguing that immigrants should do it “the right way” should ask themselves a question they likely do not have an answer for. Did Rodriguez do it the “right way”. It is not his father who is facing deportation but rather it is Raul Rodriguez who faces deportation, a punitive action that not only affects him, but his wife, who coincidentally also works for immigration, and his children. Rodriguez is paying the price for his father’s lies.
The second issue is that immigrating to the United States is not simply “doing it the right way” like many believe. The system is too convoluted for it to be done the right way.
Many of those demanding that immigrants do it the “right way” are immigrants themselves. They immigrated from countries such as Canada, England or other countries that have easier processes for them because of the way U.S. law is written.
Others have immigrated circumventing the law by using marriage to jump to the front of the line, paying for immigration by using “investment” visas or by using immigration visas intended for intelligent people by lying about their college credentials, like Melania Trump did.
The dirty immigration secret is that the immigration system must be gamed for it to grant immigration status for most immigrants. And yes, that includes seeking asylum even though the driving force is economic.
The issue is not that immigrants should do it the right way, but rather that the system does not allow for doing it the “right way”.