Bob Egelko, San FranciscoChronicle, April 22, 2010
A San Francisco bus driver’s wife and two stepsons won the right to remain in the United States on Wednesday after nearly being deported because of a schoolyard punching and a city immigration crackdown, their lawyer said.
Immigration officials learned that Tracey Washington and her sons, ages 13 and 5, were here on expired visa waivers after police arrested the older boy in January for hitting a schoolmate and taking 46 cents. They were reported under Mayor Gavin Newsom’s July 2008 policy that required juvenile authorities to notify federal agents after the felony arrest of any youth suspected of being in the country illegally.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ordered the mother and children, who had a legal-residency application pending, to leave for their native Australia by March 5. Two days earlier, after the family and their lawyer held a news conference, the agency granted a reprieve to give another government bureau time to consider the application.
They learned that their application had been accepted when the mother and her older son received green cards Wednesday, said attorney Angela Chan of the Asian Law Caucus.
Washington’s husband, Charles Washington used the occasion to criticize Newsom, whose spokesman said last month that the case vindicated the mayor’s policy.
The Washingtons, who met in 2003, married in April 2009. The marriage made Tracey Washington and her children eligible for legal residence, but her husband said a federal agency had inaccurately told them there was no deadline for an application.