In a recent article published by Politico, Howard Dean Bailey tells the unfortunate story of his deportation from his family life in Virginia.
Bailey came to New York from Jamaica on a legal green card when he was 17 to join his mother, who had become a permanent legal resident in the United States. Bailey attended Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn before enlisting in the U.S. Navy. He served in Operation Desert Storm and returned to attend community college, begin his marriage, have a daughter and start his own trucking business.
Bailey claims that he applied to be a U.S. citizen in 2005, passing the written and oral tests and completing the Citizenship and Immigration Services biometrics exam. “I waited and waited,” he writes, “and when I called to ask whether there was a problem no one had answers.”
On June 10, 2010, Bailey found that, in the eyes of the U.S. government, there definitely was a problem. Immigration officers stormed Bailey’s home, taking him to jail and ultimately deporting him back to his home country of Jamaica.
According to Newsday, Bailey’s only crime was a 1995 conviction for possessing marijuana with intent to sell. Bailey claims that he was arrested after being tricked into picking up a package for a friend, and that he disclosed all of this information on his citizenship application.
The response taken by the immigration officers represents an extremely delayed overreaction to what would otherwise be a minor crime. Bailey did break the law, but it’s hard to argue that he should have been stripped of his life and family in the U.S. for a simple marijuana charge that occurred 15 years prior to his deportation.
Many similar deportations have taken place throughout the Obama administration’s time in Washington. According to CNN, the United States has deported an average of 400,000 undocumented immigrants each year during President Barack Obama’s time in office, making Obama one of the harshest presidents on the issue of immigration.
Bailey has attempted to begin his life in Jamaica as a pig farmer, starting a new business using money sent to him by his family in the United States.