Cowardly Chief Counsel Refuses to Meet With Severely Disabled Daughter of Man Facing Deportation
NOTE: What follows is an excerpt of notes taken by Danna’s Neurologist while her dad was detained by ICE in 2011:
“Here b/c Danna’s father has been detained for > week b/c here illegally and mom states that Danna calls for her father, and cries at night and wants to be held all the time. Mom is afraid that Danna will start to regress and lose all that she has gained. Danna refuses to do her therapy…”
Danna, who is the daughter of our client, Miguel, may well lose her father to deportation come his hearing on August 16, 2013.
Danna is 5 years old and has cerebral palsy. She was born extremely premature at 25 weeks. In those dark weeks following her birth, when Danna drifted from life to death, the voice of her father always brought her back. He was at her side, telling her she would make it. Danna and her Dad have been inseparable ever since.
If Miguel is deported, Danna’s life will be put at risk. When her father was detained by immigration in 2011, she was so upset that she stopped her daily physical and occupational therapy. Without her therapy, Danna will succumb to paralysis.
The Chief Counsel of ICE in New York, Wen-Ting Cheng, has denied several requests for the exercise of prosecutorial discretion for Miguel. Why? Because the hypothetical danger that Miguel poses to the general public in the future because of two convictions for DUI is more important than the certain harm that Danna will suffer if her father is deported.
Recently Danna requested a meeting with Wen-Ting Cheng so that she could ask her in person to keep her father with her in the United States. I wrote on her behalf:
Given that Danna is the person who stands to lose most from her father’s removal, I think it is a good idea for you to see the full picture in terms of consequences of the decision to deny or grant prosecutorial discretion.
On June 17, Ms. Cheng responded, making it clear that she did not want to see the consequences:
“I decline your request for an in person meeting with Danna Quiche. I am well aware of her condition. An in person meeting with this child is not likely to change my decision which I arrived at after careful consideration of all the factors at issue. As you know, my office has reviewed this matter several times. Thank you.”
Ms. Cheng’s refusal to meet with Danna in person is cowardly. Lest one believe I am being unnecessarily antagonistic, let me explain.
Too often, ICE does not have to see the profound devastation its actions cause to humans, particularly the most vulnerable in our society.
Ms. Cheng did not have to see the tears in Danna’s eyes when she thought she would never see her Dad again.
Ms. Cheng did not have to see Danna howl through the night, unable to sleep, tortured that her father was gone. She did not have to watch Danna waste away, day by day, because her severe depression caused her to refuse therapy.
Similarly, Ms. Cheng does not have to see what will happen to Danna if her father is deported. She can forget about it. She can act like it never happened.
But if she meets Danna, this angelic little girl will be forever ingrained in her memory, like it is in mine. She will not be able to make this decision without a concrete cost to her conscience. And that is how it should be. Government officials should be required to witness the human cost of their actions. Step up, Ms. Cheng, and meet with Danna.