An Uncertain Future

June 23, 2011

An uncertain future: Seeking a place to call home

The first time Mario Rodriguez was unable to provide a Social Security number, it kept him from joining his best friend’s family on a cruise. The last time he failed to produce those nine digits, it put his life in a tailspin that will likely lead to his deportation from the United States.

Rodriguez was a seventh-grader at Eastbrook Middle School when he first learned he was an illegal alien, finding out from his mother when he asked for his Social Security number so he could get a passport to go on a cruise to Mexico, which just happened to be his native country. But the full reality of what it means to be an illegal alien hit Rodriguez, now 18, in the form of the cold water he showered in and the hard floor he slept on at the Whitfield County Jail on April 20-21.

Arrested by a Whitfield County Sheriff’s deputy that afternoon for driving without a license — he was pulled over for doing 71 in a 55 mph zone on a borrowed motorcycle, and was also charged for a tag violation — he spent the night in jail on a hold for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as part of the federal 287(g) program. Weeks away from graduation at Southeast Whitfield High, he was about to have much more on his mind than what he would do with his final summer before entering the work force or college.

Asked at the jail for his Social Security number, Rodriguez could only provide the deputy a blank stare.

“And he was like, ‘You know what this means, right?’” Rodriguez recalled. “And in jail, he pretty much said, ‘You’re going back.’”

With Georgia’s new immigration law, House Bill 87, days away from its July 1 implementation, other illegal aliens in the area have become increasingly aware they could face a fate similar to Rodriguez’s. Proponents argue that House Bill 87 will simply finally provide enforcement of existing immigration laws the federal government has failed to apply.

But Rodriguez believes his presence in this country — and that of many other illegal aliens — is too complicated for the argument that those who are here illegally should have no expectation of staying.

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An Uncertain Future