It's awfully easy to treat the issue of immigration reform as secondary, something that can be dealt with after more "pressing" issues are resolved. Such notions are quickly abandoned when the issue is made personal and the urgency made apparent.
Consider Jonatan Martinez, a recent graduate from Macon State University. He had received a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and had been accepted into Mercer University's business school to pursue a master's degree, but his plans have now been postponed.
On April 20th of this year, Martinez visited some of his friends at Kennesaw State University. While there, friends of Martinez began to consume alcoholic beverages, but Martinez refrained because he had to drive that night.
He left his friends' room for about an hour until he received a call that the police had shown up there, so he returned.
After returning to the residence, Martinez was subsequently accused of distributing alcohol to minors and was arrested for public intoxication.
According to Martinez, he had not consumed any alcohol that day.
He was transported to the Cobb County Detention Center and then handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) because he is not a citizen of the United States.
Martinez said that while he was there, he was treated like a "threat to society.” He was held in custody for four weeks, during which time his family hired an attorney to represent him on his appointed court date. According to Martinez, however, he never had the opportunity to speak to his legal representative.
At his court hearing, his lawyer merely spoke for him via conference call and Martinez said his attorney misrepresented him by telling the Court that he wanted to return to Mexico, a country he had not lived in since he was four years old.
After the hearing, Martinez was given 60 days to voluntarily depart by the judge and was permitted to finish his last semester at Macon State.
Martinez then hired a new attorney with the intention of reopening his case, a motion that has since been denied by the judge. Martinez has now appealed his case and the charges against him for public intoxication and distributing alcohol to minors have been dropped.
With respect to the law, if Martinez had been relying on his parents' visas to stay in the country, his imminent deportation would be legal. He or his parents should have applied for his citizenship while they were in the United States on work visas. However, Martinez was able to obtain a driver’s license and attend a state university without being a permanent resident for twenty years.
"This country is my home; this is where I went to school every day and faced the flag as I pledged my allegiance," said Martinez. He openly professes his adoration for the United States and how he cannot fathom leaving the only country he knows for a nation with a language he can barely speak. "I may not have been born an American, but I am an American, and I will die an American.”
For more information on Martinez’s appeal, students can visit his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=274045362614458.