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US To Deport Woman For Selling Tamales

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Reyes 1Poor Juana Reyes is being deported from the country because she was arrested for selling tamales filed with chicken, pork, and chili. Well, that is not the exact reason, which, nevertheless, is equally absurd. Reyes, whom the media has now titled “the tamale lady”, is an illegal immigrant and a single mother of two, who lives in Sacramento, California. Reyes faces deportation from the country at the hands of an overzealous Obama administration. Read about her tragic story and before you purchase a tamale from the next Mexican food vendor, please give a thought to the poor lady, whose children are now facing an uncertain future in a country, where they were born.



Caught in a Fluke!


Reyes is a 46-year-old woman, who was arrested by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s office on June 28 this year. Surprisingly, it is not illegal immigration for which she was arrested. She was charged with trespassing and interference with a business. Now, if you hear about what the interference is, you would almost laugh your guts out. Reyes, an unemployed woman, was making her living by selling tamales in the parking lot of a Walmart in the area. Her income would go into buying food and clothes for 10-year-old Cesar and his 7-year-old sister Montserrat. Reyes is raising both her children single-handedly. To cut it short, Reyes was making food, selling it, and earning her upkeep.



A Familiar Presence


On the day of her arrest, Reyes was already asked by a security guard and a sheriff’s deputy to leave her usual spot in the parking lot. She obeyed the order but when she saw that other vendors had returned to sell their goods, she returned to the location. It was then that she was eventually arrested. Surprisingly, none of her usual customers, including some of the Walmart employees, came out to help or put in a word for her.



‘Illegal’ Suspicion Reyes 2


Sheriff’s deputies, who were by now suspecting that Reyes was living in the US illegally, put handcuffs on her and took her and her children to the sheriff’s station, where they called up the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department. Her misfortune extended for two weeks when the department put her case on ‘hold’. As a result, the poor woman had to live in jail, without a lawyer to help her case, and her children were put up in a foster home. Nothing could be more heartbreaking for a single parent and the kids.



Does She Deserve This Really?


Well, if you think with your brain and see that the lady was living illegally in the country, then, of course, she got it right. But think with your heart for a moment. Reyes was selling tamales to bring up her children, not peddling drugs or something sinister. Strict deportation rules are a necessity but these are a necessity against hardcore criminals or people who are a threat to national or society’s security. Not against women like Reyes, who are doing the best they can to stay on the right side of the law. The Obama administration comes across as the bully in this case and it probably is. He has deported about 1.5 million illegal immigrants since he took office. Now, in Reyes’ case, it is not hard to imagine how many of those cases were dealt with the heart.



Reyes 3Reyes is Getting Support


All is not lost yet for Reyes. After she was released on a $1,500 bond, an amount funded by the members of her local church, on July 18, 2012, all the charges against her were dropped too. Later on, she joined a group of demonstrators to demonstrate against her deportation and for protection of her family. It warrants a mention that on July 5, 2012, the California Senate passed the “California Trust Act”, which has a lot of favorable provisions for people such as Reyes. Tom Ammiano, member of the Assembly, who has authored the Trust Act, said in support of Reyes, “Had the Trust Act been in place, Juana Reyes wouldn’t need a lawyer, wouldn’t need a press conference, and would not be facing deportation. Instead, she would still be working hard to provide for her two small children – as she has for her two decades in the US – she would still be trying to live a law abiding life.” Unfortunately, despite the Obama administration having made certain amendments to the illegal immigration laws, the ICE agents are still crossing the humane line as far as these immigrants are concerned.



Five years ago, when Antonio Swad began accepting Pesos, along with Dollars, at his pizza chain in Texas, the nation rose in an uproar over what was considered an immigrant-friendly decision. Perhaps, the opponents of that decision would care to know that at present, half of the US population under age 1 are minorities and majority of these are concentrated in places like Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Immigration laws like the Obama administration wants to impose, are a threat to these children, not only because it will take away their parents from them, as happened in case of Reyes, but also because such blind-sided laws force these children to live day-by-day and not by year, as in case of everyone else.


Image Courtesy: altweeklies, antiracismdsa, ifood

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US To Deport Woman For Selling Tamales