Last week, the Ninth Circuit reviewed a petition for a stay of deportation for Magana Ortiz, an undocumented immigrant. While unable to stop the deportation, Judge Stephen Reinhart used a concurring opinion to blast the deportation as “inhumane,” and gave a heads-up to all hombres—good and bad—to review their immigration status in the United States now.
Magana entered the United States nearly 30 years ago, when he was fifteen. He has long been married to a U.S. Citizen and was on the path to legal status, waiting only for the completion of a separate immigration process that has been slow to proceed because of an overflow of applications. He is a tax-paying father of three children, and has become a respected businessman in Hawaii, specifically in the coffee farming industry. For years, Magana “worked with the United States Department of Agriculture in researching the pests afflicting Hawaii’s coffee crop, and even let the United States government use his farm, without charge, to conduct a five-year study.”
Judge Reinhart wrote that the very deportation “was not the necessary result,” because Magana was “currently attempting to obtain legal status on the basis of his wife’s and children’s citizenship, a process that is well underway.” It did not matter, though. Magana did not move fast enough.
Unable to stop Magana’s deportation, an obviously conflicted Judge Reinhart wrote that the deportation “is contrary to the values of this nation and its legal system.” While morally upset, Judge Reinhart concluded the concurrence in affirming his role as an independent, non-political judge: “Indeed, the government’s decision to remove Magana Ortiz diminishes not only our country but our courts, which are supposedly dedicated to the pursuit of justice . . . I concur as a judge, but as a citizen I do not.”