CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A woman scheduled for a deportation hearing Thursday in Charlotte gave birth to a healthy baby boy, then, hours later, was allowed to stay in the country.
Before the hearing, about 100 people gathered for a rally outside Charlotte Immigration Court to protest what they saw as an injustice against Isaide Serrano.
Serrano came to the United States illegally from a coastal city in Mexico in 1991. She is a mother and housewife, whose children know only the United States as home, said Armando Bellmas, a spokesman for the Latin American Coalition.
Two years ago, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer pulled her over in a traffic stop because her high beams were on. She was taken to jail and placed on a path to deportation. Mecklenburg County is involved in the 287(g) program, which allows deputies to begin deportation proceedings against people in the country illegally.
President Barack Obama’s administration has focused on deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records while avoiding use of federal resources to deport otherwise law-abiding people. Federal lawyers and judges have been given prosecutorial discretion to cancel deportations against people in those circumstances, although critics argue that discretion hasn’t been used enough.
“Prosecutorial discretion is a good thing if it works in the way that it’s supposed to,” Bellmas said. “…We see where there are instances where prosecutorial discretion is failing.”
In Serrano’s case, there was another wrinkle – she was pregnant. After winding through the bureaucracy, her court date was set for a week after her due date – Thursday morning. But the baby was late.
On Thursday just after 5 a.m., she gave birth to a healthy baby boy at Carolinas Medical Center.
Four hours later, she was speaking at the rally outside a federal administrative court on Albemarle Road.
By 11 a.m., the hearing was held and a judge cancelled her deportation.
Then she was on her way back to the hospital to be with her new son.