Illegal immigrant invites ICE to town hall. Is shocked to find he's being deported

Illegal immigrant invites ICE to town hall. Is shocked to find he's being deported

This is one of those heartwarming stories that only comes along once in a while and is too good to not share. It takes place in Houston, Texas and features local businessman Roland Gramajo. The father of five has been operating his own business in the city for the past fifteen years, also serving as a vocal activist in support of the Guatemalan community, providing help with translations and locating legal services where required.

Recently, Mr. Gramajo sought to open the lines of communication on immigration matters further by hosting a town hall. He invited members of the community, elected officials and even representatives of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to share their stories and work on finding solutions. Shortly after the town hall took place, however, Mr. Gramajo received an unpleasant surprise. (NY Times, emphasis added)

In August, Roland Gramajo, a Houston businessman and celebrated advocate in the local Guatemalan community, helped organize a town-hall meeting to quell fears about recent federal immigration raids.

He invited community activists from across the country. He also invited members of Congress. He even invited officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to talk about what rights people had and didn’t have if they were confronted by the authorities.

But three weeks after the meeting, it is Mr. Gramajo who faces deportation. He was arrested near his home last Thursday, a move that has stunned his family and rekindled concerns that the Trump administration is targeting advocates as part of its crackdown on illegal immigration.

If you click through to the Times article, you’ll see that I wasn’t trying to mislead you about this story. That’s how they told it. In fact, you have to work your way down several paragraphs before finally locating the following biographical information. “Mr. Gramajo had been staying in the country illegally — raising his five children, running a business in Houston and helping fellow immigrants with translations — without contact from ICE for about 15 years.

The crux of the Times coverage focuses on suspicions that ICE is “targeting activists” who are “helping” (illegal) immigrants. But let’s face the facts here. Dude…you’re in the country illegally and have been breaking the law by operating a business for a decade and a half. And then you decided to throw a big shindig and you invited the office of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

It’s true that ICE doesn’t put a high priority on people without serious criminal records, but when you just throw it in their face like that you can’t expect them to ignore the law. Were you expecting a merit badge or something?

This is one of those stories like the ones you read in the local police blotter about the criminal who decides to rob the diner by sliding down the grill’s exhaust vent in the middle of the night, only to get caught in the grease trap and has to be rescued by the cops. Maybe you expect me to feel bad about laughing, but… sorry, not sorry. This was just hilarious.

I’ll tell you what it reminds me of even more, however, and this one was a more serious story. Way back in 2014, you may recall that an illegal immigrant named Jose Antonio Vargas was being celebrated by people on the left and even working as a journalist at various outlets. He was published in major news outlets and showed up at all sorts of newsworthy events. He was literally just daring ICE to pick him up.

When he announced that he was reporting live from a border town in Texas about immigration issues, I’d had enough. I published a column with the rather unsubtle title of, “ICE has the chance to catch Jose Antonio Vargas RIGHT NOW.” I included a picture of him. I quoted his own comments about being an illegal alien. I gave the location where he was staying. Hell, I even included a link to Google Maps with a set of driving instructions from the closest ICE office to where he was staying.

Now, I’m not saying ICE agents sit around all day reading my columns at Hot Air looking for tips. I’m sure they don’t. But however the story reached their ears, Vargas was arrested the next day while attempting to drive out of the area. And after a long period of legal wrangling, he was indeed deported from the country. As far as I was concerned it was a story with a happy ending.

Who knows? Perhaps Roland Gramajo can be the Jose Antonio Vargas of the next generation.

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John Stossel 12:01 AM on June 09, 2023