As the Donald Trump administration in the United States intensifies the deportation of Caribbean and other migrants, a Dominica Republic newlywed national with a baby on the way has been hit with a surprise arrest at his routine check-in meeting with immigration officials, according to reports.
Joel Guerrero, 37, who lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, had been reporting to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office every six months without a problem while on probation for the last six years, his wife told the New York Daily News.
But the paper reported on Saturday that, without warning, officials changed their stance on his effort to get his green card reinstated after it was revoked over a decade-old misdemeanor marijuana conviction and a court date he missed inadvertently.
ICE officials said Guerrero was convicted of felony intent to sell, according to the Daily News.
Guerrero’s pregnant wife, Jessica Guerrero — a US citizen and graduate student at State University of New York (SUNY) New Paltz — said she was “shocked” when ICE agents detained the carpenter on the spot.
“We had no idea that that was going to happen,” Jessica, 35, told Daily News. “When I asked why, the officer said, ‘The new administration is telling us to enforce all orders.’”
Jessica said the couple learned for the first time Tuesday that a judge issued a deportation order for Guerrero in 2014. She said her husband had no idea and it never came up at bi-annual ICE meetings under the last administration, according to the Daily News.
“Had he been informed, obviously, he would have done something,” she said. “We are building a life. He didn’t know this was in place.
“We got married last month,” she added. “I’m six months pregnant. He’s working. He pays taxes. He was doing everything right.”
Relatives told the Daily News that Guerrero was born in the Dominican Republic and migrated legally to the US as a teenager in 1997.
“At this point, what’s done is done, but it was a single, small pot plant in North Carolina,” Jessica said of Guerrero’s misdemeanor. “Yes, he made a mistake, but this is an extreme punishment for something that’s over a decade old at this point.”
She said her hope is that a “sympathetic judge” will carefully review the case and allow Guerrero to remain in the US, according to the Daily News.
“I hope President Trump is able to have the ‘big heart’ he says he has,” Jessica said. “I read his thoughts for immigrants, and I read that he was going to deport people who came here illegally and committed felonies.
“He said he would be removing truly dangerous people. That’s not Joel,” she added. “We shouldn’t rip families apart over small indiscretions.”
Jessica said a lawyer filed various motions on her husband’s behalf this week and won a stay of his immediate deportation, the Daily News said.
She said Guerrero has a hearing set for May 14, adding that her due date for their first child, a son, is June 1.