Martin Immigration Case Shows Family Separation Doesn’t Just Happen at the Border

If you want to get a better idea of how immigration enforcement works — and doesn’t — meet Roxana Hernandez.

Hernandez, 24, lives in Miami-Dade County with her three kids. Originally from Guatemala, she fled persecution and came to the United States. She has no papers; depending on your ideological bent, she’s either “undocumented” or “illegal.”

Regardless, she led a peaceful life in South Florida. That began to change last April, when she was ticketed for speeding and driving without a license on Interstate 95 in western Martin County.

Two months later she returned to Martin County, figuring she would pay the fines. Instead, she was arrested and sent to jail.

Then, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement picked her up and transferred her to an ICE detention center in Pompano Beach, where she remained until late August before she was finally allowed out on bond.

During her incarceration, her kids stayed with their paternal grandparents and were allowed to see her once a week for 60 to 90 minutes.

“Family separation is not just happening at the border,” said her attorney, Jonathan Urrutia of the Legal Aid Service of Broward County.

And, at first glance, it all seems like yet another inhumane example of how immigration policy works in the age of Donald Trump. But this case is a little too complex to be boiled down to some partisan morality tale.

Maybe, just like the issue of immigration itself.

Here’s the backstory: On April 17, documents show Hernandez was ticketed by the Florida Highway Patrol. She was ordered to appear before Martin County Judge Darren Steele on May 24.

According to court documents, she never showed up — and a bench warrant was issued for her arrest.

Hernandez did return to pay her fines on June 21. Authorities discovered the warrant and arrested her.

“We didn’t scoop her up because she was here to pay a ticket,” said Martin County Sheriff William Snyder. “She came in to pay the ticket perhaps not knowing she had the warrant.”

As is the case with everyone who is arrested, she was asked to fill out a questionnaire which, among other things, asked about immigration status.

“If someone self-reports they are a citizen of an

By Gil Smart for TC PALM
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