Immigrants in Madison anticipate order from Obama

Executive order expected to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation
Immigrants in Madison anticipate order from Obama
Maria Martinez

It has been 13 years since Maria Martinez moved her life from Mexico to Wisconsin. It was nearly a decade after that when she got an unexpected knock on her apartment door.

Martinez said her roommate had experienced problems with the law, and the officers that showed up at her door that day were looking for roommate. They took Martinez’s fingerprints anyway, which was followed by a letter threatening deportation.

That’s when Martinez turned to the Immigrant Justice Clinic through the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Caitlin Fish translated for Martinez as she told News 3 her story.

“I never had problems with the law in the past,” Fish said on Martinez’s behalf. “I didn’t really know that’s what was going to happen to me under the law, and sometimes the laws can be really unjust.”

The mother of four — all born in the U.S. — was scheduled to have her final deportation hearing in December.

“I’m here with my family, with my four kids, and I really hope to not have to go to Mexico. My whole life is here,” Martinez said.

Martinez said her children have no future in Mexico. Martinez, who has 12 siblings, said no one in her family received an education.

“I worry if I am deported, the people who would suffer most are my children. They’re not going to have the future in Mexico that they would have here in the United States,” Martinez said.

Martinez said her legal counsel told her she wasn’t eligible to apply for residency.

However, Martinez said she has renewed hope for staying in the country after hearing President Barack Obama will announce an executive order Thursday that could keep millions of immigrants from being deported.

“It wouldn’t be just for me, it would be for anyone who’s like me,” Martinez said.

Three years after receiving the first letter, Martinez got another letter. This time, the courts canceled her final date in court. The letter said she should expect another notice in the mail in the future, but Martinez is still hopeful that this is a long-term plan.

“I do have hope, hope that I get to stay here, hope that I can be helped by what Obama has to say,” Martinez said.

The Immigrant Justice Clinic is handling 20 to 30 cases now, and leaders of that organization said many of those clients will be affected by Obama’s potential order.

Earlier this week, a Pew Research Center study estimated that Wisconsin is home to about 85,000 people who immigrated illegally, three-fourths of them from Mexico.