At 31, Guillermo has worked as a landscaper more than half his life. He came to the United States with his father when he was fifteen. Since they had crossed the border illegally into Arizona, they looked for jobs in places that hired undocumented workers. Finding work wasn’t all that hard since many American employers relied on migrants to do jobs no one else would take. They worked on landscaping crews that asked no questions. Guillermo was smart and hardworking. When he was nineteen, Guillermo moved to Florida and started his own landscaping business, “Flores Hermosa.” He has since married and has two pre-school age daughters. Life is good. Guillermo is living the American Dream to have your own business and own a home.
All of that changes for him and his young family when he is stopped by the police for a broken tail light. The police officer runs a background check and discovers that Guillermo had a misdemeanor marijuana conviction when he was twenty, more than a decade earlier. A further search of his citizenship status reveals that Guillermo is undocumented. He’s arrested and the local police contact ICE.
After a week in the local jail, Guillermo is transferred to ICE custody hundreds of miles away from his family. Now, he awaits a deportation hearing. The public defender who is representing him is not optimistic about Guillermo’s chances to remain in the U.S. It seems that Guillermo’s record as a responsible person who owns a business and is married to an American citizen doesn’t matter. “That marijuana conviction just won’t go away,” the lawyer explains. “Marijuana possession is still illegal in Florida, although the laws against simple possession are not rigorously enforced, except where illegals are concerned. I’m afraid you have opened a Pandora’s box.”