• Colombian Guerrillas Have Threatened to Murder This Family for 18 Years. ICE Says Go Home: New at Reason /Link



    Even with restrictionist, pro-Trump Rep. Duncan D. Hunter in their corner, the Dunoyers will probably have to leave before the end of the year.


    Camilo and Pablo Dunoyer came to the U.S. with their parents when they were small children. In the late '90s, their father, Roberto, was a government employee working for Colombia's finance minister. Local guerrillas tied to FARC were extorting him to help them steal money from treasury. When he refused, they threatened to come after his family. The local police said they couldn't protect the Dunoyers, so they fled.

    The family has been living in San Diego ever since. They own a house, and Roberto and his wife, Consuela, both work at U.S. companies. Pablo is an engineering major in college, and Camilo is a high school senior. Neither have any memory of their birth country.

    Now changes in federal immigration policy mean that the Dunoyers will likely be forced to leave the U.S. before the end of the year.

    "If I were to be sent back, I wouldn't be able to communicate. I wouldn't be able to live normally," says Camilo.

    When they arrived, the Dunoyers applied for asylum. After a multi-year legal battle, they were denied on the grounds that Roberto Dunoyer's political views weren't the primary factor in the family's decision to flee.

    Through a personal connection, the Dunoyers got an introduction to Rep. Duncan L. Hunter (R-Calif.). He was moved by their story and agreed to help them stay in the country using a congressional privilege called a "private bill" that allows representatives to request deferred deportation in specific cases.

    Congress members have filed private bills of this sort on behalf of more than 1,900 immigrants since 1983. Hunter used the power 13 times during his 28 years in congress.

    After Hunter retired, his son, Duncan D. Hunter, was elected to the same seat, and he has continued filing paperwork annually to keep the family in the U.S. But that's a power that President Donald Trump reined in with an executive order signed last January that limited ICE's discretion to defer deportations, even in special asylum cases championed by members of Congress.

    Hunter, like his father, is a conservative Republican and hard-line immigration restrictionist. He's on the record supporting the Justice Department's zero tolerance policy when it comes to detaining or deporting any unauthorized southern border crossers, and he co-sponsored a bill that would reduce the number of refugees and unskilled immigrants allowed in the United States.

    But he has spoken out against applying that zero tolerance approach to special asylum cases championed by members of Congress through private bills.

    "ICE has to show discretion in these cases, and discernment," says Hunter.

    The family still receives death threats mailed to an address in Colombia to this day. At their last ICE check-in, they say an officer informed them there was a 99 percent chance that their deportation notice would be signed at their next meeting, which has yet to be scheduled. At that point, the family will have approximately two weeks to leave the country.

    Reason talked with the Dunoyer family about their fight to stay in the country and to Hunter about his attempts to help them defer deportation.

    Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Justin Monticello, Lorenz Lo, and Weissmueller.

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    Photo Credit: "Duncan L. Hunter," Eric L. Lesser/ZUMA Press/Newscom

    Photo Credit: "Duncan L. Hunter and Duncan D. Hunter," John Gastaldo/TNS/Newscom

    Photo Credit: "Duncan D. Hunter," John Gibbins/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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    (@)Zach Weissmueller

    Published on 20 Aug 2018 at 06:15PM

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