Edi Arma, who’s lived in Phoenix, Arizona, for thirteen years, is a Guatemalan immigrant fighting deportation. He was originally placed in immigrant detention after a traffic stop in 2009. Arma explained to officials that he’s afraid that his family will be killed if they return to Guatemala. Nevertheless, he was issued a deportation order, which he ignored because he wants to stay with his wife and three children—one of which suffers from severe asthma.
Arma’s case appears to fit the description for relief under the prosecutorial discretion memo issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton. Issued in June 2011, the memo makes clear that agents can exercise broad flexibility when choosing to seek deportation. Arma’s supporters point out that he has no criminal history, he’s a breadwinner who cares for all his three children and he faces immediate danger if he’s sent to Guatemala—where his own brother was killed just a few years ago.
Last week, ICE agents arrested him in front of his three children as they were getting ready to go to school. Arma’s 11-year-old son is now featured in a moving video that explains what it was like to see his father taken from him—and illustrates the pain caused when families are separated due to breaks between the prosecutorial memo and the reality of enforcement. His son is visibly shaken and struggles through tears as he explains his father’s capture, and then pleads for President Obama to return his father back to him.
Arma may be on a plane to Guatemala as early as Tuesday, but his supporters are hoping officials will honor the discretion memo and allow him to live his life with his family in Phoenix.
Read Aura Bogado's account of another of ICE's chilling misadventures.