The case of a Queens woman who suffered a miscarriage last month as she was about to be deported to Ecuador is being held up as a symbol of gaps in President Obama’s new immigration policy. Julia Casares, 36, was in the process of being expelled under new policies meant to target violent criminals and fresh arrivals while giving a temporary pass to longtime undocumented residents who pose no threat and have strong ties to the U.S. Casares has a 10-year-old shoplifting conviction, but she has no record of violence, and her two kids and four siblings are all American citizens.
But it wasn’t until she lost her baby in the feds’ custody that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials decided to allow her to stay, her family said. “She fainted, and she started bleeding,” said Casares’ partner, Marco Guartan.
“They couldn’t force her onto the plane in that state — she’s a human being.” She is expected to be released from custody Thursday. Casares’ lawyer, David Sperling, said that following a Univsion report on her case, top ICE officials overruled the Newark field office, allowing her to stay. She will now be able to remain in the country for at least a year. Immigration advocates say that what happened to Casares reveals that ICE is not properly implementing Obama’s plan to review 300,000 deportation cases to identify violent criminals who should be booted immediately. Homeland Security “has not provided clear guidance to ensure that immigration officials are exercising the appropriate discretion in line with the new policy,” said Jackie Esposito of the New York Immigration Coalition. “We are calling on the President to articulate a clear plan for how his new deportation policy will be carried out.” ICE spokesman Harold Ort confirmed that Casares was being released for medical reasons “so she can make arrangements to depart the U.S. on her own.
“The agency exercises prosecutorial discretion, on a case-by-case basis,” he said. ICE picked up Casares, a part-time catering worker, in September during an early morning raid on the Corona home she shares with Guartan and their two children. The feds had flagged her because she had skipped out on a 1998 agreement to leave the country after getting nabbed previously in a raid on her workplace. Prior to her miscarriage, the agency had moved Casares to a deportation facility in Jena, La. Her pregnancy was two months along when she collapsed on Oct. 22 aboard a plane that had yet to depart for Ecuador, her relatives said.
Three days later, doctors determined her fetus no longer had a heartbeat. “She has been crying every day; this has been so painful,” Guartan said. “But she’s been better now that we have hope she’ll be home.”