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‘Prosecutorial discretion’ saved California athlete from deportation

On Behalf of | May 30, 2012 | Citizenship

A California college athlete attempting to wade through the citizenship and naturalization process had a very close call with immigration authorities recently. The 19-year-old college student is an undocumented immigrant but is a top-ranked athlete at Southwestern College in Chula Vista. The woman had been sitting with her boyfriend at a local park when she was detained by a San Diego police officer. The woman was very nearly deported and is now seeking a way to speed up the citizenship and naturalization process due to her close call.

The officer asked for identification but would not accept her college ID. He insisted on obtaining her Social Security number, and the woman was forced to admit she did not have one. She was detained by immigration authorities who attempted to convince her to sign a form that gave consent to be immediately deported. She refused.

She was detained for several days but released under “prosecutorial discretion,” a policy that requires officials to place their focus on undocumented immigrants who are criminals or who are in violation of immigrant law. This policy has had a bit of a slow start, with only 1.2 percent of the 300,000 pending deportation cases closed. However, it gave the California athlete the freedom she needed to continue competing in college athletics and also the drive to try to achieve citizenship in this country.

Although she is still an undocumented immigrant, her case is temporarily closed by immigration authorities. She is still unable to obtain legal employment, drive or attempt to gain federal college loans. She has few options to pave the way through the citizenship and naturalization process, but she is hopeful she will eventually get there. A private bill introduced by a San Diego congressman would be able to give her permanent residency and ease her path to obtaining citizenship, but these bills don’t easily get through Congress. For now, she is focusing on running, hopeful she will be able to stay in this country and eventually become a legal citizen.

Source: Fronteras Desk, “Undocumented Track Star Allowed To Stay, But In Legal Limbo,” Jill Replogle, May 16, 2012