The latest poster child for anti-deportation

When I woke up this morning and put on a pot of coffee I flipped on the television to MSNBC. (This is the one hour block before Morning Joe starts.) One of the first stories I saw had to do with a person in Detroit named Jorge Garcia. And before you ask, no… it’s not the guy from Lost. This Jorge Garcia is an illegal alien living in Michigan for the past three decades who was being deported yesterday. And his profile was almost custom designed for the media narrative about sinister deportation forces roaming the land under a hateful, racist president. You see, Garcia had managed to survive in Detroit all this time without ever being arrested for anything other than immigration crimes, had established a family and made for an extremely sympathetic figure. And for the cherry on top of this story, he was being deported on MLK Day. (Detroit Free Press)

His arms wrapped around his wife and two teenage children, Jorge Garcia’s eyes welled up Monday morning as he looked into their eyes one last time near the entrance to the airport security gate at Detroit Metro Airport.

His wife, Cindy Garcia, cried out while his daughter, Soleil, 15, sobbed into Garcia’s shoulder as they hugged. Two U.S. immigration agents kept a close watch nearby.

After 30 years of living in the U.S, Garcia, a 39-year-old Lincoln Park landscaper, was deported on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday from metro Detroit to Mexico, a move supporters say was another example of immigrants being unfairly targeted under the Trump administration.

I couldn’t have written those three paragraphs better if I’d landed a job developing scripts for the Lifetime Channel. Garcia wins even more heartstring points for having been brought here by relatives (also illegal aliens) at the age of ten, but being too old to qualify for DACA. He’d already been identified by immigration officials back in 2009 and scheduled for deportation, but under the guidelines of the Obama administration, his case was essentially swept under the rug. Now he’s been sent back to Mexico.

The press is having a field day with this because it’s precisely the type of story they love to dig up. They will, without a doubt, make Garcia into their latest poster child for how terrible Trump’s immigration enforcement efforts are. And why not? As I said, this guy has it all. His story is a Hallmark Movie of the Week script which could essentially be copied straight from the newspapers.

The problem is that no matter how sympathetic you may feel toward Jorge Garcia, his is the sort of story which plays out every day across the country, only with less endearing main characters in most cases. Having been brought here as a child, there was likely little he could do from the ages of 10 to 18. But upon becoming an adult, he obviously knew that he was in the country illegally. At that point, he could have begun the process of attempting to gain legal citizenship as a responsible adult, even if that meant going back to Mexico first. Instead, he chose to stay here illegally, get married and start a family, knowing that he could be detained and deported at any moment. Whose fault is this, exactly? He also held down a job all this time which is being trumpeted as a laudable thing, but his employer was also breaking the law.

But as I said, the media will work this man’s story for all it’s worth in order to push forward the standard narrative. You hear far less in the news about the many other illegal immigrants who show up on a daily basis. Particularly when they’ve been deported multiple times and wind up holding a busload of people hostage. Of course, we really don’t want to talk about that guy, do we?

Jorge Garcia may not have committed any other crimes, and he clearly didn’t merit a place at the top of the list for immediate, urgent ICE action. But he was still on the list. If we’re going to be serious about dealing with the illegal immigration problem, a lot of people are going to be deported. And statistically speaking, that means some of them will be the supposed “good ones” who don’t have extensive criminal records on top of being in the country illegally. That doesn’t mean we just start ignoring the law.