icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
7 Apr, 2021 17:29

Deportation for former 'permanent resident' with drugs conviction who hoped for 'miracle' under Biden

Deportation for former 'permanent resident' with drugs conviction who hoped for 'miracle' under Biden

President Joe Biden may have dismantled Donald Trump’s immigration policy, but his generosity has its limits, as one convict hoping for a “miracle” under his administration recently discovered.

Kelvin Silva, 44, was deported from the US to the Dominican Republic on Tuesday. Silva was a permanent resident, but not a citizen, of the US, and as a convicted felon was prioritized for removal.

Prior to his deportation, Silva made a few headlines late last year when the election of Joe Biden seemingly offered him a final lifeline to stay in the US. "We just need a miracle," Silva told ABC News in December. "I'm depending and hoping for when Biden takes the presidency, he can help us out of this situation."

Also on rt.com Build the wall, Joe? Biden administration may resume some construction on Trump’s border wall, media says

Despite Biden’s near-total dismantling of former President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies – including a freeze on border wall construction, the reinstatement of the Obama-era ‘catch and release’ policy for border-crossers, and the suspension of the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy – his ascent to office did not spare Silva the wrath of the US immigration system, and he was sent packing on Tuesday, ABC reported.

"We thought there was going to be a change," Silva's sister told ABC on Monday. “We really had high, high hopes. It is so sad."

Yet Silva’s fate was decided not by Joe Biden or Donald Trump, but by rules and laws that predated both presidents. 

Silva arrived in the US in 1988, at the age of 11. He joined his father, who was a naturalized US citizen. However, Silva’s parents were unmarried, so Silva could become a lawful permanent resident, but never a fully fledged citizen. The law preventing Silva from obtaining citizenship dated from the 1940s and was struck down in 2000, but the legislation that replaced it was never applied retroactively, leaving Silva a citizen of the US in every respect but legally.

Silva’s mother later abandoned him, and his father raised him until he died when Silva was a teenager. Without a family, Silva turned to drugs and crime, and eventually landed himself with a 10-year prison sentence in 2013 for selling marijuana and cocaine. 

Also on rt.com Illegal US border crossings surge to highest level in two DECADES

With his sentence shortened for good behavior, Silva was freed in 2019, only to be immediately taken back into custody, this time by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As an aggravated felon without citizenship, Silva was automatically eligible to be deported, and he remained in ICE custody until he was sent to the Dominican Republic on Tuesday.

Both the White House and ICE were firm on his removal. A White House spokesperson told ABC on Tuesday that Silva “violated the terms of his admission after being convicted of multiple drug convictions in New York and North Carolina from 1997 to 2013,” while an ICE spokesperson described him as "an aggravated felon who falls within the current priorities for civil immigration enforcement arrest and removal set forth by the current administration."

Despite the best efforts of Silva and his activist supporters – some of whom called his deportation racist, and others who pleaded that he be allowed stay in the US with his children – Biden ultimately did not intervene, and the system processed him exactly as the law says it should have. 

Also on rt.com NASA staff now asked to help care for migrant children amid surge at US-Mexico border

Democrat Rep. Alma Adams (North Carolina) attempted to save Silva with a letter to ICE, pointing out that Silva was awaiting a court date to determine his citizenship status. "It would be immoral and unconscionable, and potentially illegal, for ICE to deport Mr. Silva before the Court has ruled on the merits of his nationality claim,” Adams wrote.

With appeals to Biden himself failing, and Adams’ intervention falling on deaf ears, one miracle could have possibly saved Silva: Biden’s proposed 100-day moratorium on deportations. However, the moratorium was blocked by a federal judge in Texas in February, and even if it hadn’t been, it included a clause allowing ICE to make “an individualized determination that removal is required by law.”

With Silva en route to an unfamiliar country he left decades ago, his supporters online have decried his deportation as a “crime against humanity,” and “heartbreaking.”

Yet Silva’s unceremonious removal is a reminder that, for better or worse, the policies of the US government aren’t decided solely by the whims of the president, and all the campaign-trail promises and media hype in the world can’t change that.

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!