This case brings back some bad memories. A rickshaw driver in his native India, Ubaidullah Abdulrashid Radiowala came to the United States on a visitor's visa in 1998. He stayed, as he was fleeing an Indian mobster whom he had informed on to the police.
In his time in the U.S., he built his own successful business and served as sole provider for his wife and four children (two whom immigrated to the US with him and are under DACA protection, two of whom were born in America). Three of his children are now in college, the fourth in high school. His earnings account for the entirety of his household's expenses -- food, tuition, rent, everything.
Radiowala was arrested in 2017 on a traffic stop, and was ordered deported. Although there was some evidence that the mobster he had informed on might try to hurt him in India, it was too late for Radiowala to request asylum. And while the U.S. has the power to cancel removal for persons in his position, the IJ concluded that removing Radiowala would not cause "exceptional and extremely
unusual hardship to his spouse, parent, or child, who is a
United States citizen" (in this case, his two U.S. citizen children). Although his children would no doubt suffer, the IJ and Board of Immigration Appeals decided that their suffering was not exceptional compared to any other family with a parent or spouse facing removal.
The Third Circuit affirmed. And the reason this case brings back some bad memories isn't because I think the decision was wrong. It's because it was probably right. The bad memories I have stem from the near-impossible standard of review that we were faced with when overseeing the immigration docket. The needless cruelty and trifling pettiness of the immigration system was entirely out of our hands to check. It didn't matter. Where it might matter was in the chambers of immigration judges -- who were wildly overworked and may or may not care -- and, of course, in the initial decision of immigration officials to make commonsense decisions about which cases to prioritize and which to let slide. But by the time the case gets up to the appellate court level, the immigrant is pretty well doomed -- no matter how cruel or manifestly unjust their case is.
So let's be clear: deporting Ubaidullah Abdulrashid Radiowala is needlessly cruel and manifestly unjust. There's no point to it other than the cruelty. He had been living in the United States for almost twenty years. He had raised a family here. He had sent his kids to college. He had built a successful business. He hadn't hurt anybody. He came to immigration authority's attention based on a traffic stop. A traffic stop!
But of course, today the cruelty is the point.
Radiowala has already been deported back to India. I hope he's safe. And I hope his family is getting by. But goodness, what a terrible thing we've done. What a terrible, terrible betrayal of the American ethos this is.