Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Remember That Thing You Did 12 Years Ago? Yeah, We've Decided That's a Problem

This blog has been dormant for too long. There's too much going on out there that needs to be confronted. Here's one:

In 1996 Kathryn Ingleson, age 18 and a single mother, did something stupid. As a clerk at a store, she had access to customer credit card information, which she used to make $300 worth of purchases. She wanted what she wanted, no excuse, she stole.

She paid back the money and was convicted of a felony, for which she served probation.

What's the big deal? Well, Kathryn Ingleson was not an American. She was a British immigrant, here since age 7. She wasn't deported for this offense, however.

Not at first.

Not for a year, in fact.

Wait, that's not true: not for two years.

OK, that's not right either. Let's see here...here it is. They did not come after Kathryn Ingleson until onetwothreefourfiveSIX years later.

By then, Kathryn Ingleson was married and a mother of a second child.

Seems she had been flagged by ICE while traveling, and a 1997 law made it possible ("legal") to deport people for such an offense. Because her conviction occurred in 1997, she was grandfathered in, meaning they could come after her.

Yes, OK, they CAN, they're ALLOWED, the law says they have the RIGHT...but let's just think about this. The woman has been in America for 24 of her 31 years, this offense is now 12 years old, she's been clean since then, and she has an AMERICAN FAMILY. Which ICE, in all its wisdom, has determined is to be split up. Sure, they could all move to England, where they have no home, no immediate family and no job prospects. Not to mention, everybody in the family except Kathryn would be foreigners.

Sure, she wishes she had become a citizen in the intervening period, which she could have done. But the larger question is: why now? Why after all this time? Why, when there has been nothing, not a thing to flag this woman as undesirable in the 12 years since this episode of bad judgment?

Why? Because they can. Because they want you to be scared. Scared of them, scared of each other, scared of Kathryn Ingleson.

The governor of Virginia is considering a pardon, which still might not be enough. She is scheduled to be deported on August 14. We will wait and see.

Here is a good overview:

Immigration: Old Crimes Return to Haunt Legal Immigrants


The Washington Post reports that Ingleson was granted a final-day reprieve. The governor of Virginia has pardoned her, the trial judge has changed her crime to one that is non-deportable, and ICE has granted a one-year stay to allow Ingleson to petition for a revocation of the deportation order.

Seems that lots of people get the simple point that this was a bad idea, poorly executed. Now it's a matter of ICE getting the point. Perhaps under a new Administration, that won't be considered such a long shot.