Here’s a heartwarming story for you. A guy gets stuck in a basement for the better part of a year but finally gets out.
It’s a pity we couldn’t just stop right there because I could use some good news about now. Sadly, this isn’t the case at all. Out in Denver, Arturo Hernandez Garcia had been holed up in the basement of the First Unitarian Society for the past nine months because he claimed sanctuary in the church. He had a deportation order hanging over his head following the discovery of the fact that he was in the country illegally when he was arrested at his workplace last year. So how did Mr. Garcia manage it? Did he finish his naturalization process? Did he qualify for some new form of visa allowing him to stay on legally?
Nope. The feds basically just gave up. (From the Denver Post.)
The 41-year-old Mexican national, who for the last nine months has been living in the basement of a Denver church to avoid deportation, received a letter from immigration officials telling him he is no longer an enforcement priority.
“This is a partial victory in my case,” Garcia, who claimed sanctuary in October at the First Unitarian Society near Cheesman Park, said Tuesday.
“It’s not over,” he added, saying that he looks forward to sleeping in his own bed at his family’s Thornton home.
His first order of business outside of the sanctuary was a walk around the block with his wife and two daughters.
The rest of his family is here legally and they – along with a group of activists – have been petitioning the government to get off his back for months now. Amazingly, as the story is told, they actually listened and sent him a letter saying he was “no longer a priority.”
Garcia entered the country on a tourist visa and never left. There seem to be howls of protest on the left about this guy for a few reasons. One of these is that when he was arrested at his job site, the charges were later dropped and he was found innocent of the allegations. Fair enough. So we don’t lock him up for that offense. But what his supporters seem to fail to realize is that even if he is not guilty of whatever petty crime he was originally accused of, he was still guilty of being in the country illegally every single day that he remained here once his visa expired. That’s still a crime even if he’s “not a priority” for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
But that doesn’t matter in the brave new world we inhabit now, particularly if you can make yourself into some sort of celebrity. Mr. Garcia may be moving into the protected, while still completely illegal status of Jose Antonio Vargas. One of the most famous illegal aliens in the country, the man is still breaking the law each and every day, yet somehow was moderating a panel at Netroots Nations this month. And that’s that same guy that we already caught once in Texas last summer, but he was released and apparently no further action has been taken.
Why should people like Arturo Garcia pay any attention to the law when they have examples like Vargas to follow? As far as they are concerned the laws are a joke and they don’t have much to worry about provided they can attract the attention of a few television cameras. And apparently they are correct.