For Oswego man, freedom and loss go hand in hand
By Denise Crosby email@example.com August 16, 2013 10:56AM
Updated: September 19, 2013 9:53AM
He served his country. He served his time.
And now Mark Isaacs is a free man.
But this tale of redemption and reform has no happy ending. That’s because last week Isaacs was deported back to his homeland without a chance to say goodbye to his wife and three young children.
According to his niece Marla Isaacs, the last the family knew (as I reported a couple weeks ago) he’d been moved from a cell in Ullin, Ill., to a detention center in Louisiana.
But not long after that update, she got a call from her 52-year-old uncle. He was using a stranger’s mobile phone in an airport in Guyana, the country he left as a teen when he emigrated to the United States with his family.
It was a one-minute conversation, Marla Isaacs said. Even his wife and kids did not know he was gone.
Isaacs, who obtained his green card after coming here, served two tours of duty with the U.S. Army, then married an Aurora nurse and settled in Oswego, where he was known as a loving and heavily-involved father and businessman.
He and his partner, who owned a cell phone business, ran afoul of the law, however, when they illegally sold phone minutes. In 2008 he was convicted of fraud and thrown into a federal prison for three years. But because he never obtained citizenship, even after serving in the military, he was taken directly to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center upon his release.
For the next year, a strong band of supporters tried desperately to convince the powers that be his crime was below the $10,000 threshold that makes it an aggravated felony, which in turn makes him eligible for deportation. They even solicited the help of a local elected official, where an employee took great interest in this case.
“I tried really hard to help them,” the woman told me. “But when I heard he was deported, it made me feel like I just didn’t try hard enough.”
I’ve spoken numerous times to this political aide, who obviously has a huge heart. But she also wants to keep her job, and therefore asked that I not name her or the politician who pays her salary.
That’s just how sensitive this whole immigration issue is. But sensitivity denotes compassion, mercy. Both are too often missing when it comes to conversations about reform.
“Unfortunately, the law is the law,” the aide said, lamenting the fact it makes no distinction between white collar and violent crimes, nor are exceptions made if small children are involved.
I’ve been following this case for a while now. Mark Isaacs’ white collar crime hurt his family greatly. He paid his debt to society, and despite Herculean efforts by those who believe in him, he’s now paying an even steeper price with the loss of his family and home.
The last time I wrote about the Isaacs case, his wife said two of her kids have serious medical issues that prevent them from joining her husband in Guyana. Marla Isaacs told me she’s not sure what is going to happen next, but the family is exploring options.
Immigration issues are prickly because emotion and law don’t intersect. I’d like to be able to see things as black or white, but that’s hard to do when you get to know the people behind even one or two of the thousands of cases.
In reality there’s plenty of gray. And far too much sadness.