A ‘Pillar’ of Hawaii’s Coffee Industry Is Being Deported

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Magaña Ortiz says he’s “still optimistic … that something good will happen.” Photo: Jennifer Sinco Kelleher/AP

President Trump’s immigration officials have another “bad hombre” in their sights: Andrés Magaña Ortiz, a successful, law-abiding farmer who’s been called a “pillar” of Hawaii’s coffee industry. The 43-year-old owner of El Molinito Farm is the latest person to face the Department of Homeland Security’s wrath, as part of Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration to, in Trump’s words, “restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders.” Magaña Ortiz has lived in the U.S. since he was 15, when he was smuggled in to join his mother, who’d become a fruit picker in California.

He’s since married an American, had three kids, and become a respected coffee farmer in Hawaii’s famed Kona region. He oversees 15 other area farms — including his 75-year-old neighbor’s 150 acres, because she’s too old to do it herself anymore — and has played an integral role in helping the USDA figure out how to contain a vicious pest known as the coffee berry borer. (He’s reportedly nearly eliminated it from his coffee plants.) “When you get a guy like Andrés who’s a model citizen, been in business for years, pays taxes and is one of the heavy hitters in the coffee industry here,” his business partner Brian Lindau tells the local news, “you’re shooting yourself in the foot and you’re shooting down the Kona coffee business.”

As was the case with other undocumented business owners that Trump’s DHS has targeted, the Obama administration gave Magaña Ortiz permission to stay, so long as he behaved. His deportation now is bizarre enough that literally Hawaii’s entire congressional delegation has asked the DHS to explain what it’s doing — two members of Congress, and both U.S. senators, who’ve also been tweeting out their support:

Magaña Ortiz also has the backing of U.S. Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who issued an opinion on May 30 blasting the circumstances of this case as particularly “inhumane.” He wrote: “The government’s decision to remove Magana Ortiz shows that even the good hombres are not safe.” Reinhardt’s opinion, plus Magaña Ortiz’s vocal support in D.C., seems to have been enough to convince the DHS to delay his deportation by another 30 days, so that a Petition for Alien Relative filed by his wife can be processed first (if accepted, it could grant him a green card). On Monday, Hawaii’s congressional delegation sent DHS Secretary John Kelly a friendly reminder, saying, “The Department has the power to keep this family together, or break this family apart.”

A ‘Pillar’ of Hawaii’s Coffee Industry Is Being Deported