WITN Heads Out With Immigration Customs & Enforcement For Illegal Alien Arrests
Last Updated: 5:21 PM Apr 29, 2008
Reporter: Dave Jordan
Three illegal aliens with criminal convictions face deportation after Immigration Customs & Enforcement Officers took them into custody here in North Carolina.
WITN News was with the ICE officials, some from as far away as Atlanta and Miami, when they made the busts last week in Durham, Raleigh and Garner.
Two of the three apprehended were fugitives. They were convicted, spent time in prison, were released and ordered to leave the country, but didn't. The third was a convicted sex predator in the U.S. illegally.
One of the individuals arrested, Juan Enamarodo of Durham, was a convicted cocaine and heroin trafficker who eluded authorities in New York and New Jersey.
All three were taken to the ICE Office in Cary where the deportation process began. ICE Officers will check to see if they have any outstanding warrants. Once that is done the removal process begins. That could take weeks or even years.
There are 75 ICE Fugitive Operations teams in the United States, two of them in North Carolina. The Fugitive Operations teams arrested just over 30,000 illegal alien fugitives in 2007.
While ICE busts may be more common in the larger areas of our state, law enforcement officials in eastern Carolina do have several programs to fight illegal immigration. Be sure to watch WITN News at Six on Wednesday for that report.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
WITN Heads Out With Immigration Customs & Enforcement For Illegal Alien Arrests (WITN-North Carolina)
WITN Heads Out With Immigration Customs & Enforcement For Illegal Alien Arrests
Police cautious, before chasing dangerous coyotes
April 29, 2008 - 6:11PM
LA JOYA - Dramatic police chases with illegal immigrant-crammed trucks are common place in this small city.
That pursuit, however, has often ended in dangerous chases with the desperate human smugglers widely known as coyotes.
Again on Tuesday, just east of La Joya, a coyote led Peñitas police on an early morning chase that crossed four cities and ended in a crash after the driver refused to pull over for erratically changing lanes on Expressway 83.
Four Honduran illegal immigrants were taken to the hospital with broken bones and other minor injuries after the vehicle they were traveling in blew out a tire and rolled over, Peñitas police Chief David Harris said. The coyote charged with shepherding the immigrants into the interior of the country fled the scene and got away.
Facing federal prosecution if caught, these coyotes put police in the delicate position of deciding whether to chase after them for failing to pull over on a minor traffic violation.
The choice is never simple and at several Rio Grande Valley police departments, it seems everyone has a different answer.
The rationale behind each decision offers a window into how local law enforcement agencies address the federal issue of illegal immigration.
"LIFE AND PROPERTY"
On April 17, Mission police chased a coyote after he ran a red light and refused to pull over. That smuggler plowed into a SUV as he tried to flee, sending a mother and her two young children into a canal.
The woman and her children were rescued by the pursuing officer and another bystander, escaping with minor injuries. The coyote was arrested and arraigned on smuggling charges, while most of his human cargo who tried to flee was caught.
"The video (of the Wednesday chase) indicated there was no reason to believe there was any ... immediate danger" to civilians, Mission police Chief Leo Longoria said at the time. "(The officer) made that decision and I think any other officer would have made that decision."
It was the second chase for Mission that underscored the dangers coyotes and the police who chase them pose to motorists. In October a coyote who fled police lost control of his van and crashed, killing one of his passengers.
Often police are unclear why the driver flees. The driver could be wanted or carrying drugs, Longoria added.
In the October crash, Mission police were helping U.S. Border Patrol agents, who had lost the vehicle at a local park.
"When things go bad, things get very bad," Longoria said.
But he also stressed that his officers are trained to consider factors that could complicate and make the chase even more dangerous, such as weather, conditions of the roadway, the limitations of their vehicles and the purpose of the pursuit.
All Valley police departments interviewed said their officers consider the same factors before pursuing.
"Our primary objective is the preservation of life and property," Longoria said. "We don't lose that mission."
Local police are not required to enforce immigration law nor are they required to ask about a person's immigration status during a criminal investigation or traffic stop.
When police do encounter illegal immigrants, they turn them over to Border Patrol for processing.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, of which Border Patrol is a part, reported nearly 74,118 illegal immigrant apprehensions across the Valley in 2007. That's more than 200 a day.
Local police, however, detain and turn over maybe a few hundred a month, said local Border Patrol spokesman Dan Doty.
"The number doesn't look significant," Doty said. "But, we're all in it for the same thing: to protect the community."
Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño doesn't chase if the primary reason is a car full of illegal immigrants. He said border protection is a job best reserved for federal officials, even though his department does use state funding to dedicate a special unit of deputies to immigrant and drug patrol along the border region.
"If a pursuit is initiated and all we have is a traffic violation and it's quite evident that there are illegal immigrants involved, we are not going to pursue," Treviño said. "I don't want to be held liable for the death of an innocent bystander because we're pursuing an illegal immigrant truck."
McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriquez institutes a similar policy. His officers are simply too busy to pursue illegal immigration and doing so might compromise street patrol and violent criminal investigations, he said.
"It's not rocket science along the border for law enforcement if you're doing immigration enforcement," Rodriquez said. "You can spot illegal aliens left and right - (CBP) needs to be doing that, but it shouldn't be us."
Still, Treviño and Rodriguez both say they will pursue illegal immigrants if there are outstanding warrants or if the public is in danger otherwise.
"If the driver gets away, is there a greater danger to the general public," Rodriguez said his officers must ask. "If the answer to that is no, then we should not engage."
In La Joya, where fallow fields dot much of the landscape, the area for illegal immigrants to hide and flee north is greater than it is in developed cities of Hidalgo County, like McAllen.
Some weeks, La Joya police seem to detain coyotes and turn over illegal immigrants to Border Patrol agents on a daily basis - many times following a minor traffic infraction.
The immigrants storm across ranches and private lands, often leaving a scattering of trash in their wake. Residents feel threatened and call the police with tips, said La Joya police spokesman Officer Joe Cantu.
For Cantu, who said his officers undergo extensive training in their police vehicles before they are ever allowed to be the primary pursuit vehicle, it's a situation they can't ignore. If a person flees after not pulling over for a traffic violation and it's apparent that the vehicle might be carrying illegal immigrants, La Joya officers will pursue.
"When illegal immigrants over-run your area, what are you going to do? Look the other way," Cantu said. "Be it federal law, state law or local ordinance, we're enforcing the law. Period."
U.S. admits negligence in detainee's death
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
The federal government has admitted that its negligence was responsible for the death of an illegal immigrant who pleaded during 11 months in custody for treatment for a condition that proved to be terminal penile cancer.
Government lawyers made the acknowledgement last week in a suit that Francisco Castaneda filed before he died at his Los Angeles-area home on Feb. 16 at age 36. Doctors had amputated Castaneda's penis a year earlier to try to stop the spread of the cancer.
A lawyer for family members who have taken over the lawsuit said Monday the admission followed a government physician's sworn statements that she knew a biopsy was the only way to determine whether Castaneda had cancer but never authorized one - a decision that was approved by officials at the headquarters of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The case has laid bare the "complete failure, at multiple levels," of the health care system for 300,000 immigrants in federal detention centers, said Conal Doyle, an Oakland attorney representing the family along with the nonprofit group Public Justice. "We are seeking a policy change" and will not settle the case without one, he said.
An inquiry to Immigration and Customs Enforcement was referred to the U.S. attorney's office, where spokesman Thom Mrozek declined Monday to explain why the government had acknowledged that its negligence caused Castaneda's death.
"It's the position of (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), the Bureau of Prisons and any other federal entity that may have the ability to detain people that we strive to provide proper and adequate medical care for persons in our custody," Mrozek said.
The admission of negligence makes the government responsible for damages up to $250,000, a limit set by California law for emotional distress caused by medical malpractice. U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson of Los Angeles could award additional sums, including punitive damages, if he finds that individual doctors and officials were deliberately indifferent to Castaneda's welfare and violated his constitutional rights.
In a ruling last month that denied the government's request to dismiss the case, Pregerson said Castaneda's allegations, if proved, describe government conduct that was beyond cruel and unusual. The government has appealed his decision to allow claims against individual federal employees.
Castaneda entered the United States with his mother at age 10 after fleeing his native El Salvador during a civil war. He was convicted in 2005 of possessing methamphetamine and spent eight months in jail, then was held in immigration detention centers in San Diego and San Pedro while awaiting proceedings in the government's attempt to deport him and in his request for political asylum.
According to his lawsuit, a doctor first noticed a growth on Castaneda's penis in December 2005, while Castaneda was in state custody, and ordered tests that were never conducted. Multiple lesions developed and his pain increased, but doctors and immigration agency officials rejected medical staff recommendations for a biopsy, describing it as an elective procedure, the suit said.
In response to observations of discharges from his lesions, the agency's health service recommended in November 2006 that he receive a clean pair of boxer shorts each day, the suit said. A doctor finally ordered a biopsy two months later and said Castaneda probably had cancer, but the immigration agency released him without treatment 11 days later, and he underwent the biopsy and amputation in a Los Angeles County hospital, the suit said.
In pretrial deposition last month, Esther Hui, the only doctor at the San Diego detention facility, said Castaneda was under the care of a physician's assistant. Hui said she recalled seeing Castaneda only once, probably in the spring of 2006, when she was shown the penile lesion and thought it might be cancerous.
But Hui said she does not recall conducting or ordering any tests to rule out cancer. When an outside oncologist told her later that Castaneda should be hospitalized immediately for a biopsy, she disagreed, explaining during the deposition that she considered the procedure elective because Castaneda was not in imminent danger of dying.
Hui, a defendant in the lawsuit, said she is sad about what happened to Castaneda, but "I don't feel responsible" for his death.
Chandler Police arrest 8 suspected undocumented immigrants
Reported by: Marc Ybarra
Last Update: 3:53 am
Eight suspected undocumented immigrants will be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement after a run-in with the Chandler Police Department.
Just before 11 p.m. Monday, officers attempted a traffic stop on a white car near Riggs Road and Arizona Avenue, but the vehicle sped off.
According to early reports, a brief chase ensued before seven suspected undocumented immigrants ran into a nearby field.
One other suspect fought with an officer. Police quickly took control of the situation and arrested the subject, who is now facing charges of assault on a peace officer.
The other seven subjects were caught a short time later. Officers believe a ninth suspect may have gotten away.
No one was hurt.
Russian Marriage Scam Targets Local Women
Last Update: 8:34 am (4/29/08)
A Local 12 investigation uncovers an international marriage fraud ring targeting young, local women.
They are paid to marry Russian men so they can fraudulently obtain U.S. citizenship.
Local 12's Rich Jaffe found in more ways than one, it's a ring of deceit.
On December 12, 2006, Rachel Poor married Russian citizen Pavel Shlykov in Hamilton County.
Investigators say both got something out of the deal. She got money, and he got a shot at becoming a U.S. Citizen.
Marriage fraud is a crime on the local and federal level and, as you'll see, it's a lucrative proposition in the Tri-State.
Recently arrested for welfare fraud in Clermont County, the investigators' affidavit in Rachel Poor's case lays out the deal she made. It says Poor "would receive cash lump payment, cash monthly payments, and a promised future lump sum payment in exchange for aiding (Shlykov) obtain citizenship."
Poor says she was told by the woman who put the deal together "She could make easy money by marrying a Russian."
"I worried about her safety," said Margaret Dolch, Rachel Poor's grandmother. "Because of the threats, don't mess with them. It was kind of put out there that don't threaten them, you don't know who you're messing with kind of thing."
Poor's family members say she only received a few payments and new husband Pavel Shlykov left for New Jersey shortly after they were married.
Local 12's investigation found Poor and Shlykov are just one of several illegal unions formed here over the past couple of years.
In January of 2007, Stephanie Renee Dunn married Iosif Turov.
In September of 2006, Rracy Cecil married Grigor Hakobyan.
In June of 2006, Samantha Rehn married Kamo Margaryan.
They're all local women who admit they were paid to marry foreign men in order to help them gain citizenship.
One woman Local 12 spoke to is married to just such a man. Concerned about her safety, we agreed to protect her identity.
"He kind of tossed it at me as a marriage, but not. Me and him hung out quite a few times, he knew my situation, knew I needed money. He was gonna pay me after I married him, and so much a month. Three hundred dollars a month."
In Hamilton County, marriage licenses are granted through probate court. Judge Jim Cissell says shortly after he took office in 2003, his staff became aware of an unusual number of questionable marriages, many involving Russians or former Soviet citizens.
In 2005, Cissell's office provided a lengthy list of those marriages to immigration officials. He provided another such list, this past December.
"There were a number of folks coming from former USSR countries that were getting marriage licenses," said Judge Cissell. "They were generally accompanied by a third party and the couples getting married oftentimes appeared not to know each other, and in turn to have some communication problems between themselves which indicated a little suspicious activity."
Immigration and customs enforcement, or ICE agents, began looking at Cissell's list, and in September of 2007, they caught, prosecuted and deported Kamo Margaryan for his fraudulent 2006 marriage to Samantha Rehn, 20.
Marriage to obtain citizenship is a federal crime and carries penalties of up to five years in prison plus fines and deportation.
The sham marriages Local 12 discovered being brokered here in the Tri-State usually involve young mothers on welfare. Most of them also have minor criminal histories. Until last fall, the two shadowy Russian women arranging these deals, known only as Elena and Anna, lived in a Union Township apartment complex.
Investigators say the two, Russian women were frequently accompanied by a tall African American man, using the name Donate Reese. Many people who are aware of these marriage for citizenship deals worry about who we're really allowing to stay in the country.
The brides involved in these cases are given $700 to $1,000 prior to marriage, and then promised $300 a month for the next two years.
Immigration law requires a two year period to pass before someone can be legalized, after marrying a U.S. Citizen.
Offered $5,000 to lie to immigration officials about her husband, the woman we talked to who asked to remain unidentified says when she wanted out, the threats started.
"I moved, he found out where I lived, how I do not know. He called my fiance now and threatened him, threatened me, told me I'd be sorry if he had to come to my home. He knew what time my daughter got off the bus, things like that."
No one knows how many illicit marriages have been arranged for profit in this area, but so far only a couple of the known Soviet husbands have been arrested. Investigators believe the marriage brokers, Anna, Elena and Dontae are still in business, although they may have recently moved their operation to a different community.
One of the Russian husbands, Iosif Rurov, is in federal custody and expected to go on trial May 12th. He faces a number of immigration fraud charges.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Immigration cops comb jails
Noncitizens accused of crime are targeted for deportation
By Nate Carlisle
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 04/28/2008 12:52:56 AM MDT
SPANISH FORK - The federal agent again asked Javier Escudero-Gonzalez where he came from.
Speaking Spanish in a Utah County jail interview room, Escudero-Gonzalez repeated his answer: the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent across the table flipped through the papers in front of him. Something didn't add up - the jail said Escudero-Gonzalez, booked a few days earlier on a drunken-driving and drug-possession warrant, was from Argentina.
The agent must determine where Escudero-Gonzalez is from, and then how he entered the United States. Whether he entered legally or not, however, Escudero-Gonzalez is more likely than ever to be deported, as jails in Utah and across the country have become clearinghouses for federal efforts to enforce immigration laws.
Along the Wasatch Front and in southwest Utah, immigration agents visit jails almost every weekday looking for immigrants who have been arrested by local police. And the patrols are gaining new emphasis.
In March, immigration agents announced an expansion of the jail program, including improved technology to record fingerprints in a database and alert authorities when a previously arrested immigrant is again booked into a jail.
The jail patrols also demonstrate a priority for immigration enforcement. Rather than seeking every undocumented immigrant or making frequent raids at workplaces, federal agents are concentrating on immigrants accused of breaking the law after they arrive in the United States.
"We start off with the most serious cases - the most violent criminals - and work our way down as we can," said Steve Branch, who directs immigrant detention and removal in Utah and three other states.
Once immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally or violating the terms of their entry have been arrested, federal agents can request a jail hold them without bail, even after their local case is finished. The government can then begin deportation proceedings.
Holly Cooper, a University of California-Davis law professor specializing in immigration issues, dismisses the jail program as a public relations campaign. Cooper points to studies showing immigrants commit fewer crimes than the native-born population.
"It appeases the constituents," Cooper said. "We want to make people feel like we're doing something to make them safer."
Drug possession might be the most common offense committed by jailed immigrants, Cooper said. Some also are being arrested because they do not have a driver license or vehicle or insurance registration - documents many immigrants can't acquire. And immigration agents can place a detainer - a request the jail not release that person - before the inmate is convicted.
Jail patrols also lend themselves to racial profiling, Cooper said.
But Jessica Vaughan, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, calls the jail patrols a way to enforce immigration laws and remove some repeat offenders from communities.
"Ask any law enforcement agency whether they'd like to get rid of 10 percent of the criminals - or whatever [the percentage] is - in their area," Vaughan said.
Vaughan counters concerns about racial profiling by pointing out many jails including those in Utah ask everyone whether they are a U.S. citizen.
Branch said immigration agents usually wait until the local cases have been resolved before they begin deportation proceedings. He said it's possible for an immigrant to be acquitted of the local charge, then be deported for being in the country illegally.
"They put themselves in that predicament," Branch said. The federal agent who interviewed Escudero-Gonzalez last month arrived at the Utah County jail to make one of his regular checks there. When he arrived, jail staffers gave him a list of prisoners who indicated they are foreign born.
The agent eventually determined Escudero-Gonzalez was telling the truth about being from Mexico and the papers discussing Argentina were incorrect. Escudero-Gonzalez, 26, then told the agent he had been deported in January then returned to the United States in February, crossing the border on foot with two friends near Lukeville, Ariz.
This month, Escudero-Gonzalez pleaded guilty to charges of driving under the influence and drug possession. He is serving 30 days in jail, after which he will be deported - if not for the convictions, then for having previously entered the country illegally.
The next inmate the agent visited, 32-year-old Bayar Jargal, of Mongolia, arrived in the country legally. Jargal said six years ago he had a student visa to attend the University of Nebraska but never enrolled. Orem police arrested him March 10 on suspicion of abusing his wife and children.
Jargal pleaded guilty to misdemeanors for child abuse and simple assault. Last week a judge gave him a sentence that did not include jail time, but because of the immigration detainer, Jargal remained in the Utah County jail on Friday pending a federal hearing to discuss whether he should be deported. The federal government will reimburse the jail for Jargal's stay.
Efforts to have local police enforce immigration laws have drawn criticism, notably from Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank, who has said he fears immigrants would then not be willing to call or cooperate with police. Burbank does not have the same concerns about federal agents going to jails.
"That doesn't put our officers in the position of going out and interacting with people on the basis of race or immigration status," he said.
Cooper and Vaughan agreed that, with some estimates saying the United States has 12 million unauthorized immigrants, the jails are not a large-scale solution to reducing that population.
"You're talking about a drop in the bucket," Cooper said.
ID disclosures spark threats
Published Monday, April 28, 2008
Community Services Administrator Kica Matos presented a death threat she received as evidence of the danger of a forced disclosure, by the city of New Haven to the public, of the identities of residents who have obtained Elm City Resident Cards at last Friday’s Freedom of Information Commission hearing on the matter.
Matos, who helped design the ID card program, testified about the many violent and racist e-mails she received after the program’s implementation, including a death threat that police officers turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The affidavit she filed before the commission in December 2007 notes that, if the city is forced to disclose identities, other individuals could be targeted as she has been. Meanwhile, an expert witness for the plaintiffs argued there is no evidence the ID cards would be an effective public-safety tool.
Dustin Gold, founder of the anti-illegal immigration Community Watchdog Project, and Chris Powell, managing editor of the Meriden Journal Inquirer, have sought to force the city to release the names and addresses of the more than 5,500 New Haven residents who have ID cards. Last fall, Powell said he was aware that the disclosure could force the city to cancel the program.
In response to the request, the city has argued that releasing this information would put undocumented immigrants, who have the card, at risk of harassment or violent attack.
Speaking at Friday’s hearing, Matos said, for a period after she received a death threat in July 2007, she was afraid to be alone outside and, even now, she will not use the City Hall garage on weekends because there are no security guards, the New Haven Register reported Saturday.
“Your commit treason by promoting an enemy invasion,” the e-mail threat stated, according to her affidavit. “You need to be taken by the United States citizens and killed as the enemy to this nation that you are.”
Commissioner Sherman London noted the seriousness of the letter.
“That’s a death threat,” the London said to the Register.
Matos said she found out about the letter after police informed her that her former workplace, Junta for Progressive Action, had received the e-mail.
The e-mail was one of many angry attacks Matos received. Many other attacks included in the affidavit, in addition to targeting Matos, threatened illegal immigrants in general.
“[I]llegals should and will be put to death,” another e-mail cited in her affidavit reads.
Matos stated in her affidavit that disclosure of the names, addresses and photographs of individuals who obtained the ID card would put them in danger from the same types of people who sent threats to her and other city officials.
While working at JUNTA, Matos co-wrote the ID card program proposal as part of a report entitled “A City to Model,” which put forth ways of improving public safety and the relationship between the city and immigrant communities.
James Thomas, commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, has supported the city’s claim that releasing the data creates a public safety risk, and that the program serves a public safety purpose in its own right, detailing the reasons in a Feb. 15 letter to New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr.
“I hereby direct you to withhold the exempt records from the requesting parties in this matter,” Thomas wrote to the mayor.
Meanwhile, James Johnston, a retired Immigration and Customs Enforcement supervisor, backed Gold and Powell and testified before the FOIA commission April 11 that he did not consider the e-mails to be serious threats.
Jessica Vaughan, a policy analyst for the Center of Immigration Studies, took the stand for the plaintiffs Friday. According to the Register, Vaughan argued that the ID program actually poses a danger because people could create fake identities.
Gold said Sunday her “expert testimony” was based on national immigration studies on crimes committed against Hispanic immigrants. The studies demonstrate that the cards do not necessarily keep immigrants safer, she said.
“She talked about the lack of statistics, of baselines studies by the City of New Haven before coming up with the ID card program,” which would have allowed the city to show whether the cards would actually be effective, Gold said.
Matos told the News in October 2007 that the ID program was created out of necessity, given the lack of federal immigration legislation. Undocumented immigrants account for nearly 10 percent of the city’s population, and Matos and other officials have noted they are often targets for criminals because they are more likely not to have bank accounts, and thus to carry cash.
“We didn’t do it to be trendy or to be different,” the Register reported her as saying Friday at the hearing. “We thought it would be a practical way to try to address public safety issues and help immigrants to integrate into the life of the city.”
The card is currently accepted by four banks in the city of New Haven as a secondary form of identification to open a personal checking account. It can also be used to store money for parking meters and as a library card.
The fifth and sixth hearings of the case are scheduled for May 6 and May 19 in Hartford.
Sunday April 27, 2008, 10:51 PM
"Being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime," Christie told more than 60 residents and town officials. "The whole phrase of 'illegal immigrant' connotes that the person, by just being here, is committing a crime."
Being undocumented may be a civil wrong, but it's not a criminal act, Christie said.
"Don't let people make you believe that that's a crime that the U.S. Attorney's Office should be doing something about," he added of entering the country illegally. "It is not."
After touching on the usual topics of his corruption-busting career and battles against gang violence, Christie fielded questions -- mostly on immigration issues -- from Morris County residents and community leaders in an open forum that at times grew heated.
The U.S. attorney had been invited by the local chapter of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey, a statewide group formed to empower Latinos to obtain political, economic and social equity, and hosted by the First United Methodist Church of Dover.
While Christie told the audience it doesn't take a "genius" to see there's a "serious immigration problem" in this country, he stressed an undocumented immigrant is not a criminal unless that person re-enters the country after being deported.
Rather, the state's top federal prosecutor called the problem of undocumented immigration "an administrative matter" that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is supposed to address.
"If there are people out there committing crimes, they should be dealt with," Christie said. "If there are undocumented people running around, then Immigration and Customs Enforcement should do their jobs."
Read more in Monday's Star-Ledger.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Hiring law snares zero employers
JJ Hensley and Craig Harris
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 27, 2008 12:00 AM
When the Legal Arizona Workers Act passed last year, it was hailed as landmark legislation that would help law enforcement crack down on employers who illegally hired "unauthorized aliens."
However, outside of Maricopa County there have been minimal complaints, with nine of the 15 county attorneys telling The Arizona Republic they have not received a single one. Meanwhile, not one civil suit has been filed against an employer.
"Is this the mouse that roared or what?" said Pinal County Attorney James Walsh, whose office has received zero formal complaints. "I don't think anyone really knows how this will operate. It's brand-new, and there is nothing to compare it to."
Supporters of the law say it's a deterrent, no matter how it's enforced. And, they say, as long as the statute is making it less comfortable for illegal immigrants to work in Arizona, it's working as intended.
The law, which took effect Jan. 1, gives the state authority to suspend or revoke the business license of any employer who knowingly hired an illegal immigrant. While county attorneys have taken complaints, they agreed to wait until March 1 to bring enforcement because of legal challenges brought by business groups.
Even though the law was upheld in federal court, there is no widespread agreement on how to enforce it. Also, the way complaints are investigated varies, and most counties were given little money from the state to implement it.
In Maricopa County, for example, more than 1,100 complaints have come in to an immigration hotline and to sheriff's deputies as County Attorney Andrew Thomas has turned enforcement over to Sheriff Joe Arpaio. His deputies have arrested and jailed eight workers based on complaints.
Critics of the law say Arpaio's employer-sanctions enforcement measures that target employees are another example of him using one law to enforce another, not unlike his department's practice of using minor traffic violations to arrest illegal immigrants and get them deported.
No other county has used the law to arrest employees, though Yavapai County has 43 active or completed employer-sanction investigations based on various police reports. But Yavapai County may end up scrapping all those investigations because nearly all deal with employees who were hired before Jan. 1.
In Pima County, the standard for filing a complaint is much higher as all must be in writing and notarized.
"We will not accept anonymous tips," Pima County Deputy Attorney Dan Jurkowitz said. "We would require some evidence that an employer was knowingly employing an unauthorized worker. It's not sufficient to say, 'I was sitting in a Chinese food restaurant, and I heard people in back speaking Chinese.' There are people who do that. But something like that would be discrimination on national origin, and we would not entertain that."
Tips handled differently
In Maricopa County, residents can make anonymous complaints about suspected illegal workers, and officials will follow up if there is evidence to warrant an investigation.
Authorities outside Maricopa County say accepting anonymous tips can poison the process and waste taxpayer dollars with false accusations, but in the Valley, county officials say it's no different than a program like Silent Witness.
"A person's race really isn't relevant to their immigration status," said Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Phil MacDonnell. "Only if it's reliable, hard information that this person is unauthorized."
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has launched five formal investigations into violations of the employer-sanctions law but so far has only arrested employees.
In March, one of those investigations led the Sheriff's Office to Roberts Tire in Chandler. Two plain-clothes detectives wandered into the shop area before an employee offered to escort them to the customer waiting area, said Julie Pace, an attorney who acted as counsel for Roberts Tire.
When the detectives produced badges and said they wanted to talk to an employee who was a lead in a stolen-car case, the manager offered to help, Pace said. But when detectives began questioning the employee, it didn't take long for questions about his identity to emerge. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested on suspicion of identity theft and forgery.
The tire company wasn't prosecuted.
"They seem to be mostly focusing on the individual," Pace said. "That is the same manner in which city police departments have been doing it in the last two years. The difference is that the Sheriff's Office is doing it from the hotline and complaints under the sanctions law."
Arpaio has said his office has not found enough evidence to hold any employers responsible but has cases in the works. All of the employees arrested were from Mexico and were involved in identity theft.
"I don't just go after illegals on the street," Arpaio said. "We do all aspects."
While Yavapai County has the second-highest number of cases, which it culled from police reports that found a suspect could be an illegal immigrant, it's holding off on prosecution until lawmakers tweak the legislation to clarify whether it applies to only employees hired after Jan. 1.
Dennis McGrane, Yavapai County's chief deputy attorney, said it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars to file a civil suit if the law is changed.
Mohave County has received eight complaints, but Chief Deputy Attorney Jace Zack also said there is no point trying to enforce a law that may be changed.
Gila County, meanwhile, says it's at a "standstill" on one investigation until it receives guidance from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, which the county says is in charge of verifying the immigration status of an employee involved in the investigation.
While Maricopa County is taking a different approach to enforcing the law, officials also are trying to reach out to businesses to counsel them on how to follow the statute without violating federal anti-discrimination laws.
MacDonnell and Tim La Sota, a special assistant county attorney, along with ICE officials, spoke to a group of assembled business administrators last month in downtown Phoenix with advice on what documents to ask for in the hiring process and when. Maricopa is the only county providing such outreach.
Employers and human-resources directors at the seminar represented grocers, technology firms and television stations that, combined, employ thousands of Arizona workers.
MacDonnell and La Sota told business leaders that the county wants to ferret out the handful of businesses that are purposefully hiring illegal workers. "Our goal is not to play 'gotcha,' not to make trophies of businesses," MacDonnell told the group.
County attorneys, meanwhile, have limited resources to implement the law.
The state allocated $2.43 million for the 2007-08 fiscal year for the state's 15 counties to enforce the law, with $1.43 million going to Maricopa County and $500,000 going to Pima County. Pinal County received about $93,000, which wasn't even enough to hire another lawyer to prosecute cases.
"We have used it for some educational work, but we haven't hired anyone with the money we got," said Walsh, the Pinal County attorney. "But even if we got someone started, the $93,000 will go away at the end of the year and we are not going to get any money. I don't know if the Legislature ever heard this term, but unfunded mandates is what the feds do to them."
30-year-old oversight may lead to deportation
Woman failed to tell Immigration she was married
By Vanessa Colon, FRESNO BEE
Article Created: 04/27/2008 02:35:58 AM PDT
FRESNO — Margarita Mendoza of Fresno was excited last year about the prospects of becoming a U.S. citizen.
Now Mendoza, who has lived in the United States for 30 years, might be deported.
Her citizenship application was denied because of an omission that occurred 30 years ago: She failed to tell immigration officials that she had married between the time she applied for a visa and the time she received it. At the time, no one ever asked about it, she said.
Immigration advocates say cases like Mendoza's are relatively rare. But with last year's surge in citizenship applications, those advocates say more cases like it are likely to emerge. She's scheduled to attend a hearing at an immigration court in San Francisco on May 16.
"Immigration agents never asked if I was married or single ... I didn't know it was a problem until I tried to become a U.S. citizen," she said in Spanish. "If they would have asked me, I would have told them the truth."
Roxanne Hercules, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said Mendoza should have updated her information regardless of whether officers asked her if she was married.
"It's her responsibility," Hercules said.
Hercules said officers will ask questions based on the information they have on the person coming into the United States, but the questions depend on the case.
But immigration advocates say Mendoza made a trivial mistake and she shouldn't be entirely held responsible for it.
"If I were a person living in a foreign country who was about to immigrate and not an immigration lawyer, I could have easily made that mistake," said Mark Silverman, a staff attorney at the San Francisco office of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, an advocate for immigrant rights.
Rick Oltman, national media director of the Santa Barbara-based Californians for Population Stabilization, declined to comment specifically on Mendoza but said it's the kind of issue that the immigration court is set up to decide. The group favors eliminating illegal immigration and limiting legal immigration.
"The rules were written for a reason, and you have to abide by the rules," Oltman said. "If they've (applicants) violated a rule or law, it has to be looked at."
Usually, applicants for citizenship face deportation proceedings because of past criminal convictions, Silverman said. Overall, just over half of those deported in 2007 — including undocumented immigrants as well as green-card holders — had a criminal conviction, according to data from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Mendoza filed an application for naturalization in June. In November, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services informed Mendoza her naturalization application was denied. Two months later she was ordered to appear in court for a hearing that could lead to deportation.
Mendoza was issued a visa as an unmarried daughter of a legal permanent resident, her mother, on April 29, 1978.
But a Mexican marriage certificate shows she married Carlos Vega Hernandez March 9, 1978, and her son was born April 7, 1978, according to the letter from Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Sharon Rummery, an agency spokeswoman, said if someone marries before entering the country and uses a visa meant for an unmarried daughter or son, the visa becomes invalid.
"The law says a lawful permanent resident can only petition for an unmarried minor or adult child," Rummery said.
Now 53, Mendoza lives with three of her five grown children and has been separated from her husband for 10 years, she said.
Lazaro Salazar, Mendoza's attorney, said the law must be respected but he believes Mendoza has a chance of remaining in the United States. Salazar said her absence would create a hardship for her twin sons, who have special needs because of mental health issues.
Mendoza wishes she could go back in time.
"If this would have happened from the start, I would have returned to Mexico," she said.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
A pregnant Pompano Beach woman who was hospitalized was spared deportation to Haiti -- for now.
Posted on Sat, Apr. 26, 2008
BY TRENTON DANIEL
Five weeks pregnant and waiting deportation to Haiti, Fabienne Josil got a reprieve Friday when immigration officials told her she could leave detention and stay in the United States to get the medical care she needs.
''I'm going home to get some rest and be happy with my family -- that's all I'm going to do,'' Josil said shortly after her release Friday evening. ``I'm going to have something to eat -- maybe some good Haitian food.''
Josil, 26, was released based on humanitarian grounds. She received an order of supervision with reporting requirements, said Barbara Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Miami.
''That doesn't negate the fact that she has a final order of removal,'' said Gonzalez. ``At this point her safety and security is the priority.''
Josil, who legally entered the United States in 2002, was under a deportation order because she had ''aged out'' of her residency status, her attorney said.
About 8 a.m. on April 18, immigration agents went to the Pompano Beach home of her fiancé, Frandy Deronvil, as she was taking out the garbage, her Fort Lauderdale attorney Jeanne Hines said. Josil learned she was going to be detained.
''She collapsed -- her feet gave out,'' said Hines.
An ambulance drove Josil to North Broward Medical Center. She had uterine bleeding. After being treated, she was released that day to the custody of an immigration agent. Josil was taken to the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach.
Josil went back to North Broward Medical Center on Monday -- bleeding again -- and returned to the detention center. On Wednesday, Josil returned to the hospital a third time. The doctors said she risked miscarriage, Josil's sister Sherly said.
Josil legally entered the country in 2002 as her father's dependent when she was 20. She was ordered removed in August 2005, her attorney said, because she had ''aged out'' of her legal status when she turned 21. The Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed Josil's appeal in February 2007, Hines said.
An immigration officer told Hines that Josil would be deported to Haiti, where her mother lives in Port-au-Prince. The immigration agency had finalized her departure plans for April 28.
' `I've a plane ticket for her on Monday,' '' Hines recalled the immigration officer telling her.
Added Hines: ``We asked that they parole her on humanitarian grounds so that she receives adequate care by an OB-GYN.''
Hines feared that Josil wouldn't receive the same kind of medical treatment if she were deported to Haiti -- especially now. In recent weeks, Haiti has experienced riots, from the countryside to the capital, because of soaring food costs.
Activists concerned about Josil's Monday deportation fired off an e-mail to immigration authorities this week.
''As you know, and as in other cases, you have the discretion to parole Ms. Josil on humanitarian grounds so that she may receive the bed rest she requires in order to prevent a miscarriage and the loss of the life of the baby,'' Steve Forester, senior policy advocate for Haitian Women of Miami, wrote to immigration authorities Thursday evening.
On Friday, the order arrived. ''It took a little prodding but the results are great,'' said Hines, acknowledging the deportation order remains. ```We will explore what other avenues are available.''
For now, an ecstatic Josil was reunited with her sister and fiancé. ''I feel reborn,'' said Josil's fiancé Deronvil, 36. ``Since Friday, I felt like I was dying. I didn't eat. I didn't sleep. Now I feel like a new man.''
ICE raids lead to arrests in Avon
Vail, CO Colorado
April 25, 2008
AVON, Coloardo — Seven people were arrested from the Aspen Trailer Park in Avon on Wednesday after a raid by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
ICE agents were also looking for people in Edwards, but no arrests were made.The arrests were part of the “fugitive operations program,” which targets illegal immigrants who have received federal orders of deportation but have not complied, said ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok.
“These are targeted operations looking for specific people,” he said.
Those operations “give top priority to cases involving aliens who pose a threat to national security and community safety, including members of transnational street gangs, child sex offenders, and aliens with prior convictions for violent crimes,” according to the agency’s Web site.
Three of the people arrested were from Honduras and four were from Mexico. One person was not a “targeted person,” but agents found out he had been deported and re-entered the country during the operation.
Rusnok said the arrests were not related to four arrests made earlier this month by ICE agents at the Sunridge Apartments in Avon.
Lawyer Says Illegal Detentions Made During ICE Raid
POSTED: 5:31 pm PDT April 25, 2008
VAN NUYS, Calif. -- A Los Angeles civil rights lawyer is accusing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of violating the law during a Feb. 7 raid in Van Nuys.
Suspected illegal immigrants were picked up during a raid at Micro Solutions Enterprises, a computer printer cartridge manufacturing plant in the 8200 block of Woodley Avenue.
Attorney Peter Schey contends the agency had no right to detain workers at the factory for upward of an hour before figuring out who was in the country legally and who was not.
The raid resulted in the arrest of 130 suspected illegal immigrants, KNBC's Conan Nolan reported.
Feb. 7 Video
ICE is accused of violating the law when during the raid when they also temporarily detained 114 workers who were either U.S. citizens or legal residents.
Schey said the detention was a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Former Micro Solutions employee Clare Cox told Nolan that she was treated poorly by ICE agents and they would not let her get identification from her car.
In a statement, ICE said the warrant was signed by a judge and was based upon the likelihood that evidence of criminal violations would be found at the location. The search was properly conducted in accordance with the warrant, federal rules of criminal procedure and ICE policies, the statement said.
Former immigration prosecutor Carl Shusterman said it was a civil -- not a criminal -- warrant. He said that although agents had a right to question employees, the tactics, to him, appeared excessive.
Initially, the warrant was for eight suspected illegal immigrants. The rest were arrested after a check of employment records, Nolan reported.
This is not the first time this particular raid has been challenged.
In February, civil rights groups filed a federal lawsuit alleging immigration officials illegally denied attorneys to suspected undocumented workers caught during the raid.
That lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles by the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups, claims ICE barred attorneys from accompanying the suspected undocumented workers to interviews, and requests that a judge order the agency to allow attorneys to represent them.
February 14, 2008: Lawsuit Filed After Suspected Undocumented Workers Allegedly Denied Attorneys
February 8, 2008: More Than 120 In Custody After ICE Agents Raid Van Nuys Business
Friday, April 25, 2008
Probation violators targeted in roundup
By Alyson Chapman
The Daily Times
Published April 25, 2008
Local and federal law enforcement officials from 10 agencies swept through Kerr County earlier this week arresting 28 people with warrants.
The concentrated effort Monday and Tuesday focused on individuals with probation violation warrants ranging from credit card abuse to drug possession and evading arrest to burglary.
“We had teams together and had a concentrated effort to locate and arrest those placed on probation,” said Clete Buckaloo, who oversees the adult probation department for the 216th Judicial District, which encompasses Bandera, Gillespie and Kerr counties. “These individuals were placed on probation given by the court and given a second chance, and they failed to live up to the terms of their probation.”
By the end of the two-day roundup, officers not only cleared felony warrants, but also gained credible leads on the location of other wanted fugitives from Kerr County.
“We had leads that developed that ended in the arrest of people in Uvalde, Spring Branch, Bellville and Bandera,” Buckaloo said. “Some have been hiding for years, and one (warrant) even dates back to 1995.
“Obviously, these fugitives are hiding, and we spared no effort to locate and arrest them.”
Although, local law enforcement conducted other warrant roundups, this is the first to concentrate on those with probation violations.
Agencies participating in the roundup included U.S. Marshal’s Service Lone Star Fugitive Task Force, Kerr County Sheriff’s Office, 216th and 198th probation departments, Kerrville Police Department, Kerrville Fire Department, Texas Rangers, Department of Public Safety Motor Vehicle Theft, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Social Security and the Ingram City Marshal’s Office. In all, 50 law enforcement officials representing the agencies took part.
SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico- A Sunland Park business and an East El Paso home were raided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Friday.
Leticia Zamarripa, an ICE spokeswoman, told ABC-7 the raids happened at a business called Nash Gardens and at the home of a business owner. She did not say if the home and the business were related.
Zamarripa said, more than a dozen immigrants were detained because they did not have proper paper work to be employed in the United States.
The arrests come after a two-year investigation.
Wrong turn puts family on tragic path
By WILSON RING – 4/25/08
KEESEVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — A simple wrong turn led to the destruction of Elvia Salgado Martinez's family.
It was about 2 a.m. when she and her husband, Santiago Tapia, left the motel on Route 9 in Keeseville, nestled between the Adirondack Mountains and Lake Champlain, to look for a hospital. The 24-year-old Mexican immigrant was 5 1/2 months pregnant, and the pains had been getting worse for a day. She started to bleed.
But rather than heading north for the hospital in Plattsburgh, Tapia got on the interstate headed south, toward Albany. Three exits later, realizing the mistake, they turned around.
That was when they saw a New York State Police cruiser in their rearview mirror, its lights flashing. And that was when their lives quickly became unraveled.
"My husband speaks a little English. He explained to them that I was pregnant. He told them in English he was going above the limit at 78 because I felt bad and it was urgent that we get to the hospital," Salgado told an Associated Press reporter in Spanish during an interview 12 days after the March 31 stop. "He said that in English and the policeman understood perfectly, but he (the policeman) said, 'No, it was nothing but a lie.'"
It wasn't until a Spanish-speaking trooper arrived that an ambulance was called.
If the bilingual officer hadn't come, "I don't think they'd have moved us from there," Salgado said. "I think they would have taken us to jail."
Three weeks later, Salgado is back living in the motel, alone, without family, friends or anyone who speaks Spanish. Her husband is back in Mexico and the ashes of her son rest in a white ceramic urn in the shape of an angel.
Salgado is 24 with a round face, polite and well spoken. A high school graduate with a year of technical education, she met the man who became her husband when he came to teach in the rural schools near Cuernavaca, in the Mexican state of Morelos south of Mexico City.
She insists they had no intention of settling in the United States; the plan was to save money to pay for their education and help her family. They arrived illegally in February of 2005, walking through the desert from the Mexican state of Sonora, which abuts Arizona.
In less than a week, they arrived in a town near Syracuse and went to work with Tapia's brother. "He said we could come here and make good money," she said.
They paid off the $6,000 loan they took out to hire a "coyote," or smuggler, to take them across the border and after a season in western New York, moved to Bennington, Vt. It was there they were arrested for the first time.
They were living with a group of immigrants when one bought a car he didn't know how to drive and hit a tree. Salgado said the police came with dogs, kicked in their door and searched everything.
"They treated us like delinquents," she said.
The next day, Border Patrol agents from northern Vermont came and picked them up.
Salgado said she didn't know why authorities let her go and not the others. In some low-risk cases, the Border Patrol will release immigrants while their cases are processed, said Bradley Curtis, a Border Patrol supervisor for northeastern New York and Vermont. "Everything is decided case by case."
Salgado came away with paperwork that lets her remain in the United States as long as she makes court appearances in Boston; she has permission to stay through next March, officials say.
After her husband was deported, Salgado moved to northwestern Vermont. She lived in a house with other workers, but she had her own room, and she worked at a garden nursery, saving enough money for her husband to cross the border again.
Which he did, four months after he was deported.
They worked together in the nursery. "The boss didn't pay us much," she said. But they both worked 12-hour days, six or seven days a week. "It was to put together a bit of money."
They left the Burlington area last fall after the growing season ended and moved to New Jersey. It was there they learned she was pregnant. Six months previously she'd had a miscarriage.
"I really wanted this baby. We didn't want to lose him," she said.
So at her husband's insistence, she stopped work when they learned she was pregnant. The couple moved to Keeseville and took jobs packaging apple slices — no heavy lifting. They'd been there only two weeks when the pains started.
On the interstate, Salgado said, the first thing the troopers did was ask for their immigration papers. They then accused the pair of smuggling drugs. With her permission, they searched the car.
New York State Police Capt. John Tibbitts, who commands the area in Lewis where the stop took place, said the radio log showed that his troopers stopped Salgado and Tapia's car at 2:55 a.m. The Spanish-speaking trooper was called at 3:08. He arrived 10 minutes later and the ambulance was called a few minutes after that.
The radio log of the Essex County Emergency Services said its ambulance arrived on scene at 3:52, left with Salgado at 3:56 and arrived at the hospital at 4:45 a.m.
Tibbitts said state police rules don't allow troopers to let people with medical conditions speed to the hospital; in such cases police must call an ambulance.
"As far as I can tell everything was done pretty expeditiously," Tibbitts said. "They had the best care available, sooner rather than later."
Kody Salgado Martinez was born at 5:19 a.m. He was 15 1/2-weeks premature, and weighed just 27 ounces.
"He was well formed. He was just short the time," Salgado said.
Meanwhile, the state police notified the Border Patrol they had possible illegal aliens. The Border Patrol agent who went to the hospital verified that Salgado could stay in the country and took Tapia into custody, officials said. Tapia did get to spend a few minutes with his son before being taken away, Salgado said.
The baby was rushed by ambulance to the neonatal intensive care unit at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt. Later that morning Salgado was discharged from the Plattsburgh hospital; she used a voucher given to her by a social worker to take a taxi to Vermont.
In Burlington, the hospital staff found her a room so she could stay near her son. Then someone noticed Salgado was sick; she had a dangerous infection, and was treated at the hospital, even as her son was struggling for life.
A Spanish-speaking priest baptized Kody on April 1. A day later, at 3:35 p.m., the child died.
He lived just less than 60 hours.
Salgado last saw her husband at the Clinton County jail, two days before he was moved to a detention center in Batavia. Because he'd already been deported once, there were few formalities needed to deport him again. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says he was returned to Mexico on April 18. Salgado doesn't know she'll see Tapia again. She's spoken with him on the phone a few times.
"He wants to come back, but I told him 'no,'" she said. "I don't want him to come up again, because if he does, he'd go through the danger again" of crossing the desert.
She went back to work before the doctor told her she could; her employer has treated her well and paid for her room while she was out, but she's got to make money — she has no insurance, and is starting to get medical bills for thousands of dollars. Groups that help immigrant farm workers in New York are taking an interest in her case and her employer has put her in touch with a lawyer in Plattsburgh.
She would like to take Kody's remains back to Mexico for burial, but she can't afford to miss work, and she can't afford to risk her tenuous immigration status.
Salgado is convinced that without the delay at the side of the interstate, doctors could have prevented Kody's premature birth. Privacy laws prevent the hospitals from talking about Salgado's case. But in general, they say sometimes doctors can stop pre-term labor, sometimes they can't.
She harbors her memories of a child whose entire life spanned 2 1/2 days. She has an album with pictures of Kody, both before and after he died. She has a doll-sized sweater he wore, his hospital identification bracelet and other mementos, all packed in a colorful box provided by Fletcher Allen.
At one point, she says, her tiny boy — tethered to the intensive care unit — grabbed her finger and wouldn't let go.
"The nurses told me he knew who I was," she said, her sorrow intermingled with joy.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
17 suspected illegal aliens nabbed during traffic stop on I-75
MADISONVILLE, Tenn (WVLT) -- Quite a find for Monroe County Sheriff's deputies inside a van stopped on Interstate 75 Wednesday night.
Deputies stopped the van near the 60 mile marker after they say they became suspicious the driver was driving under the influence.
Neither the driver nor the passenger had a valid driver's license, according to deputies.
Upon further investigation, investigators say they found seventeen suspected illegal aliens in the van.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents responded to the scene to assist and took the seventeen people in the back of the van into custody.
The individuals were apparently en route to various states including Tennessee, Georgia, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
Sheriff wants $700K for jailing illegal immigrants
By ANDRIA SIMMONS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/24/08
Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway says his office is entitled to $694,839 in reimbursements from the federal government to cover the climbing cost of jailing illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes.
He has filed for reimbursement through the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program to cover expenditures from July 2006 through last June. SCAAP is a federally-funded program designed to help local law enforcement agencies recoup officer salary costs associated with housing undocumented criminal aliens.
"We will aggressively seek reimbursement in any area that we are entitled to receive it," Conway said. "While we may not receive the entire amount we are seeking due to the fixed level of program funding, it is what we should receive under the program guidelines."
The federal government pays $30.30 a day per inmate, but the inmate must have at least one felony or two misdemeanor convictions and must have been incarcerated at least four consecutive days.
Jail officials cannot say for certain how many of their inmates are undocumented residents, but they do track foreign-born nationals. As of this week, the number of foreign-born nationals booked into the jail since January stood at 3,802. That's an increase of 317 over the same time period last year.
Last year, the state and 23 of its counties were awarded $2.85 million under the SCAAP program. Some critics, including local officials, complain that SCAAP covers, at most, only 25 percent of the costs of housing inmates who aren't authorized to be in the country.
Gwinnett received only $30,240 after requesting $133,000 for expenses from July 2005 to June 2006— just 22.7 percent of what officials had hoped to receive. If Uncle Sam's reimbursement rate holds, Gwinnett would receive less than $160,000 of the almost $700,000 requested.
Prior to last year, Gwinnett had not applied for any reimbursement under the program since 1999.
That was the year the U.S. Department of Justice tightened regulations to include the rule that inmates must have been convicted of two misdemeanors or one felony. Lt. Col. Don Pinkard, who took over as jail commander last year, said that his predecessor, Lt. Col. Gary Lancaster, stopped applying after the new rules took effect.
Lancaster said Thursday it was taking too long to compile the information needed to meet the federal goverment's qualifications at the time, given the likelihood of a low return. At that time, the jail computer system was not set up to track foreign-born residents, which would have meant combing through jail records by hand to identify them, Lancaster said.
"We evaluated it and it just didn't seem like it was worth the investment of manpower," Lancaster said.
When Pinkard took over leadership of the jail, however, he began filing for the reimbursements again.
Immigration is a hot political issue in Gwinnett. The Gwinnett County Commission this month agreed to fund a program to screen all jail inmates for immigration violations. Supporters say the program, known as 287(g), could result in the deportation of thousands of undocumented immigrants from Gwinnett County.
As part of the new enforcement effort, deputies working under Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers will interview inmates and check federal databases for information about them. Inmates suspected of being here illegally will be held until ICE officials can pick them up. The final decision to deport will be up to federal authorities.
3 suspected smugglers, 14 immigrants found
by Maxine Park - Apr. 24, 2008 05:43 PM
The Arizona Republic
Three suspected human smugglers and 14 suspected illegal immigrants were taken into custody early Wednesday morning after a raid on a West Phoenix house.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety along with Phoenix police said they received a call at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday regarding suspicious activity at the home near 83rd Avenue and Indian School Road.
Officers arrived on the scene and found what they believe were three "coyotes" along with the 14 immigrants inside. Officials said the 14 people were being beaten and held against their will. Several of them had been there for as long as two weeks.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents took the 14 immigrants, including one juvenile, into custody.
Officials said the three coyotes would be charged in connection with conspiracy to commit human smuggling.
Bartenders serve up drinks, customs checks
Policy at 2 halls called unfair to immigrants
By Maria Sacchetti
Globe Staff / April 24, 2008
All the 33-year-old illegal immigrant wanted was a beer. After nearly a decade in this country, the Irish national knew to steer clear of police and federal agents. But he was stunned this month when a bartender at the Orpheum refused to serve him because his passport lacked a US Customs stamp.
The man grabbed his passport and fled, abandoning a $60 orchestra seat at a Ray Davies concert and igniting a debate over a new policy that one of the country's largest concessionaires imposed at the Orpheum and at another popular live-music venue in Boston.
Officials at the Boston Culinary Group said they started checking for customs stamps last year to ensure that passports are authentic, not to enforce immigration law.
But critics of the policy say that the stamp is no guarantee of validity and that checking for it is frightening to immigrants.
"I said, 'Who are you, immigration?" the man, a construction worker who spoke on a condition of anonymity because he fears deportation, said he asked the bartender. "It was a shock."
Daniel F. Pokaski - chairman of Boston's Licensing Board, which issues alcohol licenses - said he had never heard of local bartenders checking for a customs stamp before serving a customer.
"I wouldn't recommend it if, in fact, it does have the side effect of denying illegal immigrants the right to have a cocktail," he said. "I just think you're really taking a class of people, and based on the lack of a customs stamp you're denying them service. I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with that."
State law lists a foreign passport from a US-recognized country as an acceptable identification to verify that someone is 21, the legal age to drink. Other acceptable identification include a Massachusetts driver's license, a military card, a US passport, or a state liquor card, which shows someone is of legal age to drink.
The law does not mention a customs stamp, which shows the date of admission to the United States. But state and city officials say the company can legally increase its requirements, as long as it does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, or other protected classes.
Boston Culinary Group launched the passport policy in September at Orpheum and the Bank of America Pavilion because bartenders were confused by the array of foreign passports, said company president Joseph Armstrong. Company officials decided that the customs stamp was a common denominator that could verify that the passports are authentic.
He said the company instituted the policy only at the two Boston halls because questions arose about passports and because alcohol is in high demand at concerts, making enforcement a major issue. The company serves venues across the country, from the Tsongas Arena in Lowell to Dolphins Stadium in Miami.
Armstrong said the company takes a strict approach because bartenders are under intense pressure to avoid selling alcohol to minors. City and state officials routinely conduct undercover stings, and companies face stiff penalties for serving minors, including criminal charges, fines, and the loss of liquor licenses.
He said the company cards everyone at the 2,500-seat Orpheum and 5,000-seat Pavilion and has had no violations at either place.
"We're in no way trying to be another policing arm for the immigration department," Armstrong said. "We're just trying to protect ourselves and the people we work for in terms of making sure that we get proper identification from people."
But lawyers and advocates say the company could be unfairly denying service to all immigrants.
In general, travelers to the United States arriving by air must have a customs stamp in their passport, said Ted Woo, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection. But Canadians and Mexicans don't necessarily have the stamps, because passports won't be required for them to enter the country by land until 2009. Neither do legal immigrants who renewed their passports in the United States.
The policy at the two Boston venues is likely to have the most impact on illegal immigrants, who are ineligible for a driver's license or other government identification. The Pew Hispanic Center estimated in 2006 that 150,000 to 250,000 immigrants in Massachusetts are here illegally.
Lawyers and advocates said the company should simply use the passport to determine the customer's age.
"Asking a bartender to go above and beyond and check the federal government's stamp of approval and make a determination of whether it's valid is ridiculous," said Anjali Waikar, a lawyer with the ACLU of Massachusetts.
"I think they should focus their efforts more on determining how old people are," said Joanna Connolly, president of the Irish Immigration Center's board, who looked into the episode at the Orpheum after the center received a complaint from an immigrant.
"They shouldn't put their employees in the business of determining immigration status," said Connolly, a former assistant state attorney general. "That isn't their goal, but it's the effect."
But Armstrong defended the policy. The Massachusetts Restaurant Association and Live Nation, the Los Angeles-based company that manages the Orpheum and the Bank of America Pavilion, also said they support the company's right to set its own rules.
"If it has an occasional effect of someone who doesn't have the kind of identification that adheres to [the company's] standards is denied a beer then, well, so be it," said John Vlautin, spokesman for concert promoter Live Nation.
For the 33-year-old illegal immigrant from Ireland, the episode at the Orpheum was another reminder of his precarious condition in the United States and its contradictions. He breaks the law by driving without a license and working illegally in construction. Yet he pays taxes every year with an identification number issued by the Internal Revenue Service.
Now he says his concert-going days are over. "They can snub me; I can snub them," he said.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Man arrested for smuggling illegal aliens on I-81
By Scott Leamon
Published: April 23, 2008
A special team of state police officers and federal agents arrested a man in Botetourt County for smuggling eleven illegal aliens, according to sources with Virginia State Police and federal court records.
Officers with the state police criminal interdiction team stopped a vehicle after an alleged traffic violation on April 11th near mile marker 155 in Botetourt County, according to state police.
Federal court records show agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, believe the driver was Pedro Mateo, an employee of an illegal smuggling network hired by eleven illegal aliens inside the SUV to ferry them from Phoenix, Arizona to the east coast.
The same records show one of the passengers escaped by running from the SUV.
The remaining ten passengers, along with Mateo, were taken into custody, according to the records.
The records read three of the passengers were juveniles and turned over to the Virginia Department of Social Services.
Three days later, court records show ICE agents interviewed the seven adult passengers.
All seven people told agents Mateo made them “duck and hide” upon his command if he saw police, according to the documents.
The documents also state the seven people told agents Mateo made them use the restroom in plastic bottles, and only stopped for food once on the entire trip.
The documents say all seven will eventually be deported since all were determined to be illegal aliens.
Mateo is charged with transporting illegal aliens across state lines.
Court records show he will be lodged in Roanoke City Jail pending the outcome of his eventual trial.
Court records also show ICE agents believe Mateo was in the country illegally.
Hundreds riot at detention center for illegal immigrants
Hundreds of illegal immigrants awaiting deportation rioted at a county-run detention center and had to be subdued with tear gas, authorities said Wednesday.
Tuesday's riot started as a fight between detainees from rival gangs, and spread to the detention center's outdoor yard, said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Nearby sheriff's stations sent additional deputies to separate the detainees. The brawl was diffused "within minutes" after tear gas was used, said Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.
Fights between incarcerated gang members periodically break out at state jails, prisons and immigrant detention facilities, sometimes sparking riots.
The federal Department of Homeland Security contracts with the Sheriff's Department to staff and manage the Mira Loma Detention Center in Lancaster, which holds about 900 detainees who are in the process of being deported or awaiting resolution of their cases in immigration courts.
Ten detainees were treated for injuries and released from a local hospital, including two who suffered serious head injuries.
Sheriff's officials will evaluate how Mira Loma guards separate detainees based on gang affiliation, said Whitmore. About 45 detainees involved in the riot have been identified as suspected gang members and moved to other federal facilities.
Cold as ICE: falsehoods
April 22, 2008, 9:32PM
By RICK CASEY
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
When James Manning, assistant general counsel for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, filed a notice to appeal a judge's decision not to deport Mauricio Barragan to Bolivia, he was required to list the facts on which the appeal was based.
In three paragraphs ICE's Manning paints Barragan, about whom I wrote Sunday, as a shiftless, friendless drug user.
Barragan's "multiple drug convictions as a juvenile, his arrests and convictions for drug-related offenses as an adult outweigh any equities he may have gained during his young adult period in the United States," he wrote.
In fact, Barragan, who was brought here illegally by his parents, now citizens, when he was about 1 year old, had one juvenile offense and one adult offense at age 17, both for small amounts of drugs, both resulting in successful one-year probations.
Barragan's parents' claim to "extreme hardship," wrote Manning, centers around the claim that he "will not be able to assist his parents on an occasional basis, or to help around the house as needed."
In fact, before Barragan, 26, was incarcerated while Manning tried to have him deported, he was paying 50 percent of the mortgage and utilities on his parents' house. His disabled father and part-time teacher mother could not afford to make the payments themselves, and foreclosure proceedings were initiated while Mauricio was incarcerated.
Barragan "quit school to work," wrote Manning. "Since then, he has never held a job for more than 18 months and currently does not have a job."
In fact, Barragan graduated in the top quarter of his class at Katy High School and, while working, earned enough credits to be a senior at the University of Houston.
The record, including a glowing recommendation from his former supervisor at Target, showed Barragan had worked at that company for nearly eight years and been promoted to team leader of the electronics department.
"He owns no real property," wrote Manning.
Tax roles show Barragan to be the owner of the modest house in which he, his parents and his sister live.
Manning wrote that Barragan "has no significant social ties outside the home."
In fact, Barragan has lived here since he was a baby, and has never been to Bolivia, where Manning wanted to send him.
One tie of Barragan's that Manning doesn't mention is to his 9-year-old son, Angel.
Angel's mother testified that Mauricio had not only faithfully supported Angel financially, but also was a very involved father.
So why did Manning make these statements about Barragan, despite the fact that the court record refuted them all?
I wish I knew. I left messages for Manning on Friday, when a secretary confirmed he was working, and on Monday and Tuesday. He didn't return the calls.
"I thought it was unethical for Manning to knowingly write those inaccuracies," said Barragan. "If he didn't write them knowingly, it was unprofessional."
Barragan's appeals lawyer, Joy J. Al-Jazrawi, was kind. She said ICE's lawyers are overworked and can make mistakes.
She wrote Manning a letter pointing out the mistakes. He didn't respond, but he didn't repeat them in the brief he filed to the appeals court.
Without those trumped-up factors, however, Manning's appeal was so weak that the appeals court unanimously rejected it without comment.
But for that appeal, Barragan would have been released last October rather than in late March.
That's five months of pain for Angel and for Barragan's parents, who lived in dread that he would be deported.
It's also five months of burden on taxpayers. Instead of earning money and paying taxes, Barragan was housed at a jail operated in Harris County by Corrections Corporation of America at a cost of about $90 a day.
That's nearly $14,000.
But we escaped a potentially much greater cost. The chances of a 9-year-old boy with a loving, supportive father growing into a contributor to society are much greater than of a boy angered by having that father ripped from his life over a minor marijuana charge that occurred before he was born.
Current law required that Barragan be held and brought before a judge to determine whether he should be allowed to stay despite his prior drug offense.
But once the record showed his contributions as a son, a father, and a worker, Manning should have hastened his release — not filed a collection of falsehoods to keep him incarcerated and his family in fear.
Seeking forgiveness, Guatemalan awaits his fate in Incline
By Kyle Magin
Bonanza Staff Writer
April 23, 2008, 6:01 AM
Antonio Sandoval-Perez said he knows what he did wrong. He understands the same crime he was arrested for March 18 in Incline Village, driving under the influence, is what the man who crippled his cousin Rudy Diaz and killed Diaz’s girlfriend is charged with.
Sandoval-Perez, an illegal immigrant, understands he put his family — 3-year-old son Dylan, wife Carolina and Diaz, who he now cares for — in jeopardy when he was arrested for DUI. They rely on the money he brings into the home to survive, as do his two children and other family living in his native Guatemala.
He worried that he would never see any of them again when he was detained in Florence, Ariz. by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency because he is an illegal immigrant who committed a crime. He thought he would be deported, sent back to Guatemala on a plane without a chance to see Dylan and Carolina.
“I didn’t know when I would see my wife, my family and my niño,” Sandoval-Perez said through interpreter Sylvia Doignon. “Niño” is a reference to Dylan, an American citizen by birth.
Sandoval-Perez’s journey through the American justice system began after his arrest. A friend, Incline resident Chuck Meyer, came to bail Sandoval-Perez out at the Washoe County detention facility in Reno. Sandoval-Perez was excited to get out of detention and shocked when agents from ICE told him Meyer’s bail wouldn’t get him home.
“They didn’t tell me my rights,” Sandoval-Perez said. “They stayed with me in a room and tried to get me to sign deportation papers.”
He refused to sign the papers — a smart choice, Meyer said — and was then sent to Arizona for holding, where he spent just less than a month.
Sandoval-Perez said he thought about his crime while in detention and the people he affected by committing it, and hopes for forgiveness.
Sandoval-Perez was released from Florence, Ariz. Friday after an immigration judge granted him bail in the amount of $4,500. The release let him return to Incline, to see his family and appear in the Incline Village Justice Court Tuesday to face up to his DUI punishment.
Sandoval-Perez appeared in the Justice Court Tuesday morning, where he stood in front of Judge Alan Tiras to face his DUI sentencing. Meyer, who accompanied Sandoval-Perez, said his friend was sentenced to 40 hours of community service, a fine, DUI level one school and watched a DUI victim impact panel.
Meyer said Sandoval-Perez plans to complete his community service at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Incline since the church has a fund open for the Sandoval-Perez family.
He said his reunion with Dylan was a very happy one. His son gave him a hug as soon as the two saw each other. Sandoval-Perez said he would phone home every other day, and Dylan would ask him each time when he was coming home.
Detention in Florence, Ariz. was unhappy, Sandoval-Perez said, being away from his family and living in a large, open area with a bed to sleep on. The bed was very small, “muy pequeno,” in his words, while he gestures inward with his hands to indicate the diminutive size.
He said the lights were on all the time at the facility, day and night, and he had an hour each day to spend time outside before he was herded back in with 100 other detainees. Messages were relayed to him from an answering machine, which staff at the facility would listen to and record on a piece of paper to give to him.
Meyer stayed in contact with him while in detention. He arranged lawyers for Sandoval-Perez’s bond hearing, paid his bail and made his Guatemalan friend promise him something.
“I told Antonio to promise me he would work hard to be a better person when he got out,” Meyer, who is Dylan’s godfather, said. “I made him promise not to drive, to pay his taxes and work hard to learn more English.”
Sandoval-Perez agreed to the conditions, saying it was his responsibility to a friend who helped him through such a tough time.
“I thought I would be sent to Guatemala straight from Arizona without seeing my family again,” Sandoval-Perez said. “I felt very sad for Chuck, he helped me so much. I don’t have the words to thank him for helping me. It was hard to think I would leave without having the chance to say goodbye.”
But, Sandoval-Perez was able to come home, for which he says he is thankful. Now his fight is with his deportation hearing, which will be held with a Reno-based immigration judge. A trial date has yet to be set.
Meyer isn’t overly optimistic about Sandoval-Perez’s chances, he’s heard from people familiar with deportations that an illegal immigrant has the deck stacked against them.
James Kelly, a Reno-based immigration lawyer, said few cases end with the illegal immigrant not getting deported when the crime is as serious as a DUI.
Meyer and Sandoval-Perez plan to make their case in front of an immigration judge for Antonio to stay. They fight because of the life that awaits Sandoval-Perez back in his hometown of San Lorenzo, Guatemala if he loses his trial.
“There is no work, no money,” Sandoval-Perez said. “I want Dylan to grow up here so he can get an education and learn English.”
Sandoval-Perez said most of his family is poor, working on cattle ranches if they are employed. He made it through the sixth grade, his brothers through the third, and he fears Dylan couldn’t receive the education offered in Incline.
“I want him to have a good education, to get a degree and have a career,” Sandoval-Perez said.
He also worries for his extended family, including two children in Guatemala, a 13-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl. He said he sends back money for his children to have food and go to school, and without his American cash flowing back to Guatemala, they would suffer as well.
“I am just going to tell the judge that I will work my best to be a good person,” Sandoval-Perez said of his defense.
If in his deportation hearing it looks as though Sandoval-Perez will be sent away, he said he would voluntarily return to Guatemala with Carolina, Dylan and Diaz.
“I want to stay in America because there are jobs here and opportunities for my family,” Sandoval-Perez said.