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A pardon isn't enough to prevent deportation after minor offense

An El Salvadoran mother of two was deported recently, despite significant efforts being made on her behalf by an advocacy group and her state's governor. Now, her family has been broken up.

The 30 year-old came to the United States fleeing the violence in El Salvador 10 years ago. Last month, she had a check-in appointment with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and was arrested and marked for deportation.

Why? She had committed a minor driving offense. Like thousands of other immigrants, she was deported despite having no serious criminal record. According to the Washington Post, she and her husband have been married for 15 years, pay their taxes and go to church.

In a stunning effort, the pro-immigrant advocacy group CASA worked to keep her from deportation by petitioning Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe to pardon her driving offense. Their petition worked, amazingly, with McAuliffe granting the pardon on the basis that she is no threat to public safety.

Unfortunately, the pardon made no difference in her case. She was deported a little over a week ago, according to both CASA and ICE. She had been in the U.S. without authorization since 2006 and was deported for that reason, not the driving error.

Her husband told reporters at the Washington Post that their mother's deportation has their 4-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son in tears.

"How can they take away their mother?" he said. He also said he can't go join her in El Salvador because, as he is in the process of obtaining lawful permanent resident status, he is not allowed to leave the U.S. Their two children are U.S. citizens.

Many immigration advocates would prefer to see ICE focus on dangerous criminals in its deportation efforts, or on people who pose specific threats. That does not appear to be the priority of the Trump Administration. Top administration officials have said they plan to increase deportations over even the high levels seen in the Obama Administration. So far, that number has increased nearly 38 percent over the same period last year.

The largest increase in immigration arrests was among those with no criminal records.

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