Well said critiques made by Rep. Lee. The current system is very broken and we will have opportunities this year to fix it.
She's able to stay for a year, but her case is still pending
By SUSAN CARROLL | HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Dec. 31, 2009
After years of fearing she could be deported at any moment, immigration officials have granted a Houston middle school teacher a one-year reprieve.
Marie Baptiste, 30, said she was told just before Christmas by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials that she had been granted “deferred action” for one year, meaning they will not try and deport her during that time.
“I thank God,” said Baptiste, whose relatives brought her to the U.S. from Haiti when she was 9 years old. “We're a little bit less tense.”
Baptiste, now a middle school science teacher in Houston, said she didn't realize she was in the country illegally until she was about to graduate from high school. She went on to earn a degree from the University of Houston and then a teaching certificate.
Baptiste met and married her husband, a Fort Bend County constable, over a decade ago, and they started a family.
Fighting to stay
In 2000, Baptiste filed for legal status, and the application appeared to be progressing, she said, until she arrived to an immigration court hearing less than 10 minutes late after rushing her daughter to the doctor that morning. In the meantime, the immigration judge had ordered her removed in absentia.
Since then, Baptiste has been fighting to stay in the country, appealing her removal order.
In 2006, she was picked up by immigration agents and detained for six months.In November, ICE agents stopped Baptiste on her way to school, but did not take her into custody after she had an anxiety attack.
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, who has made appeals to ICE on Baptiste's behalf, called Baptiste's case “symbolic of the completely broken immigration system that we have in this country.”
“She grew up in our system,” Jackson Lee said. “She was educated in our system. She married an American citizen and her children were born here. What greater connection can you have than family to a country that you obviously love? She is a well-respected school teacher with talent that we need.”
With the temporary reprieve, Baptiste said she and her husband are able to relax a little, but are still worried about the ultimate outcome of her case, which is pending before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“I just want to be free,” Baptiste said. “I really want to be free.”