Traffic Stop Lands 58 Year-Old Woman in Jail, Facing Deportation

She is hardly the dangerous criminal that Obama Administration officials say they are putting at the top of the list of people to deport, say immigration advocates.

And so Maryland faith and community leaders want immigration officials to drop plans to deport Josefina Rodríguez-Vega, 58, who landed in the agency’s crosshairs after a traffic stop on Friday.

Local police found that Rodríguez-Vega was driving without a license, according to a local ABC station.

That brought Rodríguez-Vega to the attention of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, which has her in detention, according to a press release by CASA de Maryland, an organization that assists immigrants.

“We continue to hope that ICE and [ICE head] John Morton will follow through on commitments to prioritize deportations of serious criminals, but are troubled that Baltimore ICE would deport a grandmother who poses no threat to this country,” said CASA Executive Director Gustavo Torres.

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Rodríguez-Vega’s relatives, community and religious leaders were planning a prayer vigil and rally Wednesday to urge ICE officials to reconsider her deportation, according to a CASA press release.

CASA says that her case “raises questions regarding implementation of recent announcements from the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize deportations of serious criminals.”

Last year, the Obama Administration announced that it planned to conduct a review of pending deportation cases in order to put at the top of the list cases involving people who had been involved in dangerous crimes or who posed a threat to national security.

But it planned to roll out the new approach in phases, with pilot programs in various locations, including Baltimore. Non-priority immigrants in deportation proceedings are to receive a stay and could be eligible to obtain a work permit.

Immigration advocates have been critical of the administration for its record number of deportations, reaching, according a recent Pew report, “an annual average of nearly 400,000 since 2009, about 30 percent higher than the annual average during the second term of the Bush administration and about double the annual average during George W. Bush’s first term.”

Follow Elizabeth Llorente on Twitter: @Liz_Llorente

Elizabeth Llorente can be reached

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