No one can predict the future, but we all know how to judge risk because we do it every day.

Whether we are crossing the street or deciding when to buy a new set of tires, we take stock of the circumstances and apply what we’ve learned from experience. Then we make a choice.

This simple, intuitive process is how the government should approach immigration cases like that of Lexius Saint Martin of Waterville, a 35-year-old husband, father and small-businessman who is sitting in jail, facing deportation. The government should be looking at Saint Martin’s life and determining whether he poses a risk to his community.

But that’s not what’s happening. This Maine family could be torn apart by the government simply because political rhetoric has reached a hysterical pitch and cable news talking points have more sway than logic or compassion. Federal authorities, starting with the four members of the state’s congressional delegation, should get involved in this case before an overreaction results in a grave injustice. Gov. Paul LePage should do what he can to keep Saint Martin’s family in Maine and intact.

For starters, Saint Martin is not an “illegal” immigrant. He came from Haiti as a child with his family, and he has permanent resident status or a “green card.”

He is behind bars now because he was convicted of drug trafficking when he was 25 and served seven months in jail. A court ordered him to be deported, and he was released pending the order’s execution.

In the eight years since then, he has not been in trouble again. He has started a cleaning business. He and his wife, Mindy, have two sons and a third child on the way.

Saint Martin hasn’t done anything to make the government want to get rid of him. Federal authorities have been aware of his conviction all along, but there was no reason to deport him. He has the right to work — and he has worked, becoming a contributing member of his community.

What’s changed is the political atmosphere, which has brought on a new intolerance of immigration. Talking points from cable news have had more influence on cases like this than observable facts.

Saint Martin’s criminal record is a cause of concern. But millions of Americans have as bad or worse things in their past. Some of them are dangers to the community, but most are not.

Saint Martin’s clean record since then is an indication that he learned from his mistake and grew from the experience.

A rational risk assessment would determine that someone like Saint Martin is not likely to be dangerous, even with a blemish on his criminal record. Looking at the total circumstance, the community would be better off with him supporting his family and paying taxes than with him sitting in a jail cell. His children, who are just as much American citizens as anyone who demands a wall on the Mexican border, deserve to have his love and presence in their lives.

Families like Saint Martin’s should not be used by politicians who want to look tough on immigration. If they are living productive lives and on the right side of the law, limited government resources should be directed elsewhere.

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