By Teresa Wiltz
Last December, Mayra Machado was pulled over for a routine traffic stop in Arkansas. Turns out she had an unpaid ticket for failing to yield. And as a teen, she’d spent four months in boot camp for writing bad checks. Now 31, the single mother of three, who is an undocumented immigrant, faces imminent deportation to El Salvador, the battle-scarred country she fled when she was 5 years old.
Sylvester Owino, 40, said he survived torture in Kenya as a young activist and came to the U.S. on a student visa, which ran out. A 2003 robbery conviction in San Diego resulted in a nine-year stint in a detention facility. Now, he is part of a U.S. Supreme Court case that will determine whether immigrant detainees have a right to a bond hearing.
The two situations illustrate the variety of crimes that can get immigrants detained and deported, even after they have served a jail or prison sentence for the crime — and even if they are in the country legally. And while the federal government says it targets noncitizens who are serious or repeat offenders, immigrants with minor offenses often are deported.
Immigrants with criminal records may soon come under increased scrutiny. Republican President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to immediately deport “the people that are criminal and have criminal records.” There are, he said, “a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country.”