Judge: Hawaiian coffee farmer deportation 'inhumane'

Alvin Kelly
June 1, 2017

"President Trump has claimed that his immigration policies would target the "bad hombres, '" he wrote, in reference to remarks Trump made during the 2016 third presidential debate".

"We are unable to prevent Magana Ortiz's removal, yet it is contrary to the values of this nation and its legal system", Reinhardt wrote in a six-page concurring opinion.

Reinhardt acknowledged that the 9th Circuit was compelled to deny a request by Hawaii businessman Andres Magana Ortiz to stay his removal while he seeks legal status.

He has two convictions for driving under the influence, but the last conviction was 14 years old. "Among the others are judges who, forced to participate in such inhumane acts, suffer a loss of dignity and humanity as well". His wife and children are American citizens, and he is a businessman in Hawaii who has worked closely with the US government to help fight pests that destroy coffee crops.

Ortiz, 43, won a reprieve from deportation in 2014 and was seeking legal status on the basis that his wife and children are USA citizens when the government "without any explanation" ordered him in March to report for removal the next month, according to Reinhardt. That resulted in a bitter opinion from Judge Stephen Reinhardt.

Magana Ortiz sued, but because he is undocumented the 9 Circuit had little choice but to permit his deportation. In Ortiz v. Sessions, the Court denied his emergency motion to stay in the United States, so he must go back to Mexico and leave his family behind. "We are not, however, compelled to find the government's action in this case fair or just", he said. The government's decision to remove Magana Ortiz shows that even the "good hombres" are not safe. It is hard to see how the government's decision to expel him is consistent with the President's promise of an immigration system with "a lot of heart".

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An email to a U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman was not immediately returned.

Ortiz's deportation proceedings began during the Obama administration in 2014.

Reinhold joined the nation's largest federal appeals court in 1980 after being nominated by President Jimmy Carter.

Law360 wrote there is "perhaps no sitting jurist more politically divisive than Judge Stephen Reinhardt". And in 2012, he famously was part of the panel that struck down California's Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. But while those harsh stances remain, the courts have stopped other pieces of Trump's immigration policy, ruling on issues including the travel ban and funding for sanctuary cities.

Reinhardt is not the first federal judge to criticize an immigration move by the Trump administration. But that didn't stop the judge from protesting the executive branch's decision because the man and his family were pursing legal alternatives for him to stay in the U.S. The government could have let him remain, but instead it is kicking Ortiz out.

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