Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cape Police Arrest 12 Illegal Immigrants (KFVS-Missouri)

Cape Police Arrest 12 Illegal Immigrants

By: Heartland News
Posted: Oct 29, 2008 01:26 PM

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Cape Girardeau police bust several illegal immigrants.

Tuesday night, officers were looking for a wanted Mexican citizen. They ended up spotting a group of people leaving in two vehicles.

Police pulled the cars over on north Kingshighway and discovered those inside were illegal immigrants.

Heartland News was told they were employed at Gilster Marylee in Perryville. The company has not released a comment.

Police never did find the wanted man they were searching for originally.

Police: Man used stolen identity to work at Kohler Co. (Sheboygan Press)

Police: Man used stolen identity to work at Kohler Co.

October 30, 2008

A 43-year-old Kohler Co. employee has been charged with identity theft after police discovered he was an illegal immigrant working under the name of a California man.

Olegario J. Calata, of 1130 Alabama Ave., could receive three years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted on a felony charge of identity theft for employment or financial gain. The charge was filed Wednesday.

According to a criminal complaint:

Calata, who used the name Jose Jimenez-Castro, had been illegally working at Kohler Co. for three years, a fact that came to light when the Internal Revenue Service contacted the real Jose Jimenez-Castro in San Diego and tried to collect three years in unpaid income tax. The man, who is also 43, contacted Kohler police Oct. 24 to report his identity may have been stolen.

An investigation revealed Calata was employed as a landscaper for Kohler’s golf courses under the other man’s name. On Monday, Calata admitted he had purchased a Social Security Card and Resident Alien Card in California so he could remain in the United States for work.

He is being held in lieu of a $10,000 cash bond.

Police Tackle Illegal Immigration (KOMU-Missouri)

Police Tackle Illegal Immigration
Reported by: Elizabeth Gelardi
Posted by: Jaryd Wilson

Published: Thursday, October 30, 2008 at 5:29 PM

SMITHTON - A paper trail of fake documents and more then a dozen arrests are all part of the Pettis County Sheriff's Department immigration investigation.

On Thursday, detectives took search warrants and went on a sting to arrest more suspects.

They were looking for Mario and Odilon Artista. Detectives believe both are in the U.S. without proper documentation.

"It fit in, we received additional information that possibly Odilon and Mario were involved in helping make documents or provide documents," Detective Tolbert Rowe of the Pettis County Sheriff's office said.

The Pettis County Sheriff's Department is investigating illegal immigration by not only finding people allegedly carrying fake documents, but also the people who are making those documents.

"We're looking for Mario as we speak," Rowe said.

No one was home at the house, but detectives found two fake driver's licenses. Their search also turned up pay stubs, tax forms, and a passport from Mexico.

At a neighboring trailer, deputies found Odilon Artista. Police arrested him pending the filing of formal charges for identity theft.

Detectives also plan on making more arrests.

"We have information for about three or four other people that we've put together, who are either use or are involved in making fake documents. So we have two active arrest warrants and then two we are going to question regarding the forgery information," Rowe said.

So far in the investigation this year, police have already arrested more than a dozen people, and earlier Thursday police arrested Gabriel Flores on a felony warrant for forgery.

Company Issues Statement On Immigration Raid (

Company Issues Statement On Immigration Raid

More than two dozen people in northeastern South Dakota face identity theft and immigration charges. The Prairie Ridge Management says officials came to its dairy facility in Veblen to detain workers suspected of having incomplete or false documentation.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol says it arrested 13 people for ID theft and having false ID's and that US immigration officials arrested 14 others on immigration violations. They say the investigation began in August when a man who was pulled over showed suspicious documents with an invalid social security number.

Prairie Ridge management says the process went smoothly and it follows all state and federal laws for employee documentation.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Traffic stop leads to arrests, possibly stolen items (Mail Tribune)

Traffic stop leads to arrests, possibly stolen items
OSP recovers $3,000 in alleged stolen merchandise

October 29, 2008

A traffic stop on Interstate 5 Tuesday morning led to the recovery of $3,000 in alleged stolen merchandise bound for resale in Mexico, Oregon State Police said.

OSP Senior Trooper Greg Constanzo and recruit Jessica Stotler stopped a speeding 1997 Ford Explorer displaying Mexico license plates at Milepost 17 near Ashland.

A search of the Explorer turned up a cache of household items such as telephones and crock pots, diapers, video games, children's toys and clothes stolen from Willamette Valley department stores, police say.

Most of the items still had store price tags attached. OSP officials are contacting merchants to verify the property was stolen.

Arrested were driver Jose Castelo-Nunez, 24, and Blas Enrique Sanchez-Verdugo, 37, both of Mexico. They were lodged in the Jackson County Jail on charges of first-degree theft and theft by receiving.

In addition, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents charged both men with suspicion of being in the country illegally. They were held without bail late Tuesday.

OSP officials believe the pair intended to resell the stolen merchandise in Mexico.

ICE Arrests Illegals, Many With Criminal Records (The Bulletin)

ICE Arrests Illegals, Many With Criminal Records

By Michael P. Tremoglie, The Bulletin

Officers of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced yesterday that its Philadelphia fugitive operations teams arrested 37 fugitives, including 14 with criminal records, during operations beginning Oct. 14 and ending this past Saturday.

An immigration fugitive is an alien who has failed to leave the United States after receiving a final order of removal from an independent immigration judge or who has failed to report to a Detention and Removal Officer after receiving notice to do so.

During the operation an additional 62 immigration violators were arrested, 27 with criminal histories. The non-fugitive immigration violators arrested during this operation have been charged with immigration violations, placed in removal proceedings and will appear before an independent immigration judge from the Department of Justice.

All of the arrests occurred in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

The criminal records included arrests for homicide, robbery, aggravated assault with a weapon, parole violations and possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance.

Specific examples of fugitive aliens arrested by the Philadelphia Fugitive Operations Teams during this operation include:

* A Mexican citizen arrested in Dover, Del., who was convicted of first-degree murder in Maryland in 2006. This case was presented to the US Attorney's Office, District of Delaware, for the alleged offense illegal entry;

* A Dominican fugitive and former Legal Permanent Resident who was arrested in Philadelphia. He was previously deported on Sept. 15, 2004 because of criminal convictions and illegally re-entered the United States again. The case was accepted by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for violation of re-entry after deportation;

* A Nigerian fugitive arrested in Philadelphia who had convictions for aggravated assault, simple assault and retail theft;

* A Dominican fugitive was arrested in Philadelphia who had arrests for possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance and knowingly possessing a controlled substance;

* A woman from the Cayman Islands was arrested in Hellertown, who had multiple convictions for tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, robbery, aggravated assault with a weapon, parole violation and for a criminal attempt at fraud;

* A Belarus fugitive was arrested in Philadelphia, who had three arrests for driving under the influence as well as an arrest for retail theft.

"This was a concerted effort by our offices and local law enforcement officials to target, arrest and remove the most dangerous illegal aliens who entered our country and act with blatant disregard for our laws," said Thomas Decker, field office director for ICE Office of Detention and Removal in Philadelphia. "We are a law enforcement agency charged with protecting our community from criminal aliens and the integrity of the nation's legal immigration system."

Fugitive operations teams from Philadelphia, New York City and Newark, N.J. arrested 384 illegal aliens during the two-week sting.

In addition to the arrests made in Pennsylvania and Delaware, 145 fugitives were arrested in New Jersey, 65 with criminal records. An additional 44 immigration violators were arrested, 22 of whom had criminal histories.

Ninety fugitives were arrested in New York City by ICE officers, including 46 with criminal histories. Six other immigration violators were arrested, all with criminal histories.

Michael P. Tremoglie can be reached at

New Jersey ICE Fugitive Operations Teams arrest 189 fugitives and immigration violators (ICE c/o Borderfire Report)

New Jersey ICE Fugitive Operations Teams arrest 189 fugitives and immigration violators
87 with criminal histories

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

NEWARK, NJ - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced today its four New Jersey Fugitive Operations Teams arrested a total of 145 fugitive aliens during a nearly two-week long operation that began October 14 and concluded yesterday.

In New Jersey, of the 145 fugitives arrested, 65 had criminal records. During the operation, an additional 44 immigration violators were arrested, 22 of whom had criminal histories. The non-fugitive immigration violators arrested during this operation have been charged with immigration violations, placed in removal proceedings and will appear before an independent immigration judge from the Department of Justice.

Criminal histories of the aliens arrested by the Fugitive Operations Teams in New Jersey during this operation included convictions for sexual assault, assault, driving under the influence, and various drug convictions including possession of a controlled dangerous substance, and criminal possession of marijuana.

"The removal of fugitive aliens, especially those with a criminal history and those 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 is a top ICE priority," said Scott Weber, field office director for the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) in New Jersey. "ICE's National Fugitive Operations Program is just one facet of the Department of Homeland Security's overarching strategy to secure America's borders and reduce illegal migration."

During the same time period, fugitive teams in New York and Pennsylvania also conducted major operations. In New York, a total of 96 fugitives were arrested, including 52 with criminal histories. New York ICE officers also arrested 44 other immigration violators. In Philadelphia, ICE officers arrested 99 fugitives, including 41with criminal histories. Fifty-eight immigration violators were also arrested.

An immigration fugitive is an alien who has failed to depart the United States pursuant to a final order of removal, deportation or exclusion; or who has failed to report to a DRO Officer after receiving notice to do so. Those fugitives have already been ordered removed and are subject to immediate removal from the United States. Individuals who have illegally re-entered the U.S. after deportation are subject to criminal prosecution and immediate removal from the U.S.

The following are examples of fugitive aliens arrested by the New Jersey Fugitive Operations Teams during the operations:

* An Mexican national arrested in Union City, NJ who had been previously arrested on multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct;
* A Ecuadorian national arrested in North Bergen, NJ, who had been previously arrested for criminal possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled dangerous substance;
* An Argentinean national arrested in Perth Amboy, NJ who had been previously charged with sexual assault; and
* A Guatemalan national arrested in Trenton, NJ who is a member of the Vatos Locos criminal street gang.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

96 fugitive aliens arrested, 46 with criminal histories in New York (ICE c/o Borderfire Report)

96 fugitive aliens arrested, 46 with criminal histories in New York

Wednesday, 29 October 200
NEW YORK, NY - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested 96 fugitives and immigration violators in New York and Long Island during a targeted enforcement, which began on October 14th and concluded October 26th.

Of the 96 aliens arrested, 90 were fugitive targets of the operation and 46 of them had criminal histories. Six other immigration violators were also arrested during the operation, all with criminal histories. All six were charged with being illegally in the United States and will have hearings before an independent immigration judge from the Department of Justice.

Their crimes include: Burglary, Bail Jumping, Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance, Criminal Possession of a Weapon, DUI, DWI, Resisting Arrest, Robbery, Trademark Counterfeiting.

Following are four examples of the criminals ICE arrested during this operation:

* A woman from Dominica, was arrested by ICE officers on October 15, 2008, in Brooklyn, N.Y. She has an outstanding order of deportation. She served time in prison for possession with the intent to distribute Marijuana. She is currently in ICE custody, pending her removal to Dominica

* A man from Bangladesh, was arrested by ICE officers on October 15, 2008 in the Bronx, N.Y. He overstayed his visitor visa and has several drug related convictions. An immigration judge has ordered the man removed from the United States. He is currently in ICE custody, pending removal to Bangladesh.

* A man from Ecuador, was arrested by ICE officers on Oct. 16 in Queens, N.Y. He has an outstanding order of deportation. He served time in prison for petit larceny, criminal mischief and for possession and attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance. He is currently in ICE custody, pending removal to Ecuador.

* A man from Jamaica was arrested by ICE officers on October 20, in New York City, he is an aggravated felon who served 9 months in jail for felony transportation of Marijuana. In November 2006, he was convicted for criminal sale of Marijuana. Just as recently as October 20th, New York City Police Department arrested and charged him with criminal sale of Marijuana. He is currently in ICE custody, pending his removal to Jamaica.

"The people arrested are illegal aliens who fail to appear for their immigration hearings, or they defy an order to leave the country by a federal immigration judge," said Bartholomew Rodriguez, acting field office director for the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in New York. "They showed a blatant disregard for the immigration laws of the United States and ICE Fugitive Operation teams will continue to locate those immigration violators who potentially pose a threat to the public."

During the same time period fugitive teams in, New Jersey and Pennsylvania also conducted major operations. In New Jersey, a total of 189 fugitives were arrested, including 87 with criminal histories. Officers also arrested 102 immigration violators. In Philadelphia, ICE officers apprehended 99 illegal fugitives were arrested, including 41 with criminal histories. 58 immigration violators were also arrested.

ICE established its National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP) in 2003 to eliminate the nation's backlog of immigration fugitives and ensure that deportation orders handed down by immigration judges are enforced. Today, ICE has 100 Fugitive Operations Teams deployed across the country.

ICE's Fugitive Operations Program is an integral part of the comprehensive multi-year plan launched by the Department of Homeland Security to secure America's borders and reduce illegal migration. That strategy seeks to gain operational control of both the northern and southern borders, while re-engineering the detention and removal system to ensure that illegal aliens are removed from the country quickly and efficiently.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

‘Immigration took my husband' (St. James Plaindealer)

‘Immigration took my husband'

By Mark Anderson, Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 1:34 PM CDT

Maria Gutierrez was working at Tony Downs in St. James early Wednesday morning, Oct. 22, when she got a phone call saying immigration officials were at her house.

She rushed home to find her husband, Juan Alvarez, in handcuffs and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials going through every room in the house.

“My six-year-old son said ‘Mom, go tell the cops to let go of my dad.'” she said. Gutierrez felt the officials should have waited until she got her three children out of the room before they arrested her husband.

Gutierrez said she asked to see a warrant, but was never shown one. ICE officials told her they had a warrant for another person at her address. “So they arrested my husband instead,” she said. The other person was never named and never found.

She said there were six or seven ICE officials and two Sheriff's Department deputies.

The next day, Thursday, Gutierrez still didn't know where they had taken her husband. She heard from different people that he was held at the Watonwan County Jail and at the Ramsey County jail.

After contacting the Ramsey jail, and being told that her husband was there, Gutierrez said she still didn't know what to do. “I just feel hopeless,” she said, “All I can do is wait.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

23 illegal immigrants arrested in sweep at Casselton ethanol plant (The Forum)

23 illegal immigrants arrested in sweep at Casselton ethanol plant

Patrick Springer, The Forum
Published Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Twenty-three illegal immigrants believed to be from India were arrested today in a raid involving the ethanol plant under construction near Casselton, N.D., prosecutors said.

A task force led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement made the arrests this morning after receiving a tip from the contractor, Wanzek Construction Inc. of Fargo, said Drew Wrigley, U.S. Attorney for North Dakota.

All 23 will face federal criminal prosecution, and are scheduled to make a court appearance Friday.

Although the workers came legally to the United States, they later obtained false documents, including bogus Social Security cards and driver’s licenses from several states, not including North Dakota, Wrigley said.

The arrests were made after the workers showed up for a meeting called by their employer, a ruse to accommodate the mass arrest. The arrests were made without incident, Wrigley said.

“They have cooperated throughout the investigation of this case and are to be complimented,” Wrigley said of Wanzek Construction.

For more information read Wednesday’s Forum.

ICE nets more than 30 fugitive arrests in Phoenix operation (KNXV-Phoenix, AZ)

ICE nets more than 30 fugitive arrests in Phoenix operation

Reported by: Katrina Wessman
Last Update: 10/27 3:29 pm

A special enforcement action carried out by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Fugitive Operations Team in Phoenix has resulted in Monday's deportation of 31 undocumented immigrants suspected of being criminals, fugitives, and immigration violators.

During the operation, which concluded Saturday, ICE officers worked with partners from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to locate, identify, and arrest the undocumented immigrants.

Nineteen were immigration fugitives, or those who have ignored final orders of deportation or returned to the United States illegally after being removed.

Six had criminal histories in addition to being in the country illegally.

Carlos Solis-Morales, 38, a citizen of El Salvador previously convicted for possession of cocaine for sale was one of the suspects arrested by ICE.

The majority arrests included suspects from Mexico, but the group also included foreign nationals from Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Jordan.

According to the report, many of the individuals have already been through immigration proceedings making them subject to immediate removal from the country.

"We want to send a strong message to those who ignore deportation orders handed down by the nation's immigration judges that ICE is going to use all of the tools and resources at its disposal to find you and send you home," said Field Office Director Katrina S. Kane, head of ICE's Office of Detention and Removal Operations in Phoenix.

DHS launches effort to find illegal immigrants in jails (Congress Daily c/o NextGov)

DHS launches effort to find illegal immigrants in jails

By Chris Strohm, Congress Daily

The Homeland Security Department will launch a program today aimed at identifying illegal immigrants held in county and city jails across the country, but critics worry that nonthreatening individuals could be ensnarled in confusing deportation proceedings or denied legal protections.

With an infusion of funding from the Congress, the department's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has started an aggressive effort to find illegal immigrants who are incarcerated and enter them into deportation proceedings. ICE says its initial focus is on finding and removing illegal immigrants who have been convicted of violent crimes or those convicted of major drug offenses.

The program will allow local law enforcement agencies to automatically compare the fingerprints of their prisoners against FBI criminal databases and Homeland Security immigration databases. When law enforcement officials run a check on fingerprints against the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, a check will automatically be done against Homeland Security's Automated Biometric Identification System. The program will begin with the Harris County Sheriff's Office in Texas, with the goal of being expanded to about 50 other local law enforcement agencies by the spring.

"It sounds rather simple but it really changes the way we do business and the way we go about identifying individuals for immigration enforcement," said David Venturella, director of ICE's Secure Communities program. "We're going to be measured and careful in our rollout but we're going to do it as aggressively as possible," he added.

ICE will first focus on having the program operational with county jails and then at city jails. Venturella said reaching all jail booking sites will take three and a half years. But he said doing so will require much more funding from Congress to cover additional costs, such as more detention capacity and transportation services. ICE estimates the total cost could be $3 billion a year, which is more than half the total annual budget of the entire agency.

The total number of criminal illegal immigrants in U.S. jails who were charged with deportable offenses surged to more than 220,000 in fiscal 2008, according to statistics released by ICE last week. This compares to about 164,000 in 2007 and 67,000 in 2006. ICE estimates that federal, state and local prisons and jails hold between 300,000 to 450,000 criminal illegal immigrants who are potentially removable.

Immigration advocates agree that illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes should be deported. But they fear noncitizens might not be given proper legal protections.

"Our concern is making sure that people have access to counsel or are advised of their rights," said Kerri Sherlock Talbot, associate director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "Sometimes people are pressured into signing away their rights by basically stipulating that they are removable from the United States," she said. Some illegal immigrants might qualify for visas, such as those who can legitimately claim asylum or those who have been victimized or trafficked, she said.

Although ICE says it is only targeting illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes, immigration advocates worry that nonthreatening individuals might get swept up in the process.

Police move in on illegal immigration (Shelby County Reporter)

Police move in on illegal immigration

By Austin Phillips (Contact) | Shelby County Reporter

Published Monday, October 27, 2008

ALABASTER — Alabaster Police, in cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, served a warrant Friday in connection with a two-year investigation into businesses and individuals employing illegal immigrants.

The warrant was served at Rodriguez Construction on Elder Drive as officers moved in while a helicopter hovered above. Alabaster Police Deputy Chief Curtis Rigney said the warrant was executed shortly before 6 p.m. on Friday.

Temple Black, regional spokesman for ICE in New Orleans, said 31 illegal male Mexican immigrants were detained during the raid. Two of the men — a father and son — were released after questioning.

The men are now being held in the Perry County Correctional Center in Uniontown upon deportation back to Mexico.

Feds arrest 64 in raids (The State News)

Feds arrest 64 in raids
Immigration officers on prowl for illegal immigrants living in the Lansing area

By Abby Lubbers
The State News
Published: October 27, 2008

A sign reading “Now hiring experienced servers” in the window of El Azteco serves as a quiet reminder of what happened at the East Lansing restaurant 10 days ago. Four people were arrested Oct. 19 at the restaurant, 225 Ann St., Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Mike Gilhooly said.

The arrests, which were part of a National Fugitive Operations Program initiative, aimed to apprehend people illegally working in the U.S.

Sixty-four people in the Lansing area were arrested during the Oct. 17-20 initiative. Among those arrested, 40 were targets who had warrants out for their arrest, Gilhooly said.

Immigration officers arrested four people at El Azteco at about 11 a.m. Oct. 19. The officers were looking for three targets, and arrested another person who was identified as an illegal alien after attempting to flee, Gilhooly said.

One of the people arrested had worked at El Azteco for 18 years and another person had been there for 10 years, said the restaurant’s owner, Arturo Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz said the men, to his knowledge, were U.S. citizens, and he had helped the 18-year employee with immigration papers.

“They were model citizens. They paid their income taxes, they paid social security — one was even in the process of buying a home,” he said. “They were part of the economy.”

The four employees were initially handcuffed with zip ties, and told to sit against the trash bin behind the restaurant, said Steven Knapp, a waiter at El Azteco. The detainees were later chained together, he said.

“They treated them like dogs,” Santa Cruz said. “If I shackled an animal like that, I’d be in trouble. Something’s got to be done so this is done in a humane way.”

Josue Guillen works at El Azteco and arrived at the restaurant after the deportation arrests.

“It was really morbid,” Guillen said. “It was really slow; nobody wanted to do anything. People were really sad.”

He had worked for about six weeks in the kitchen with one of the employees who was arrested.

“He was the one who showed me what to do, and how to handle certain situations,” he said.

The El Azteco staff said there are a number of open shifts, and the atmosphere in the restaurant has changed since the arrests.

“It’s hard to replace them; it’s hard to fill their space — even with experienced people,” Knapp said.

Chicanos y Latinos Unidos, or CLU, an MSU Hispanic student organization, discussed the El Azteco arrests in its meetings, and its members are working to educate the MSU community about immigration issues, said Gabriela Alcazar, the group’s finance committee co-chair.

“It’s happening everywhere, it’s happening all the time,” she said.

“I don’t think people realize how much it affects our community every day.”

During the past year, 33,997 people were arrested nationally by ICE fugitive operations teams.

Gilhooly said the immigration arrests are not targeted at specific businesses, but at particular fugitives. The officers are given information about the fugitives from “basic police investigative techniques,” he said.

“Their mission is to seek out those individuals who have failed to follow the immigration order of a lawful judge,” Gilhooly said.

But members of the Hispanic community think ICE could adopt different methods of enforcement.

“We’re going to continue the fight to end it,” said Alcazar.

“It’s inhumane. It violates human rights.”

CLU is planning a fundraiser during the four days leading up to the Nov. 4 election. Volunteers will be fasting, and people can commit $5 to each participant, Alcazar said.

The money will go to cover legal and travel expenses for the East Lansing deportees’ families.

“If one person has to leave, you have a whole family that has to stay here without (financial) support, or they have to go back,” Alcazar said.

Family members of deportees are expected to pay for their travel home, even if the breadwinner is out of the country, she said.

CLU also will be hosting a community-wide meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Northstar Center, 106 Lathrop St., in Lansing.

“Everybody (in CLU) is ready to take whatever action is necessary, and also to support these families that are being torn apart,” Alcazar said.

Traffic stop results in 4 dying in canal (Arizona Republic)

Traffic stop results in 4 dying in canal

by Astrid Galvan - Oct. 28, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Four immigrants died while trying to flee authorities by jumping into a canal on the Gila River Reservation.

The incident began on Sunday around 12:30 pm., when Gila River Indian Community police officers pulled over a suspicious van near State Route 87 and Gilbert Road, on the reservation.

When officers walked toward the van, the driver drove off but encountered officers on the other side of the road.

The van, which authorities suspect carried about 20 illegal immigrants, was boxed in.

Passengers ran.

A man was rescued from the canal on Sunday. He is in the custody of federal immigration officers, according to Gila River spokeswoman Alia Maisonet.

Fourteen other suspected illegal immigrants who escaped from the van are also in federal custody; five of them were found near the site of the stop; nine were found near the Honeywell testing facility west of the Santan Mountains.

Some jumped through a farm fence while others attempted to escape through a nearby canal that was 7 feet deep, Maisonet said.

All four bodies found in the canal were adults. There were no children involved in the incident, authorities said.

One of the victims, a woman, was airlifted to a hospital but died Sunday night. The body of a man was also found that same night.

Sunday's search ended shortly after 8 p.m., when it became too dark, Maisonet said.

The search resumed Monday morning, when rescuers found the bodies of two men.

The banks in the canal are inclined and slippery, which made it difficult for the jumpers to get out, Maisonet said.

Some immigrants were wearing two sets of clothing, which weighed them down, she added.

Three Gila River officers jumped in the canal Sunday and rescued a man and the woman who later died at the hospital.

A water rescue team from the Pinal County Sheriff's Office was called in.

Bureau of Immigation and Customs Enforcement spokesman Vincent Picard said an investigation is ongoing and it has not been determined whether the driver drowned.

The immigrants were from various countries, including Mexico and Guatemala, Picard said.

Police Blotter (Greenwich Time)

Police Blotter [2nd item]

Staff Reports
Article Launched: 10/28/2008 01:00:00 AM EDT

Norbert Vass, 37, of 365 Boston Post Road in Milford, was arrested Friday evening and turned over to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Monday, police said.

The arrest came after a Greenwich police officer observed a gray Honda at Binney Park, which had closed for the night, police said.

After running the license plates, police discovered there was a federal warrant out for Vass's removal from the United States, according to the police department.

A motor vehicle stop was conducted on Arch Street, at which time Vass was taken into custody, police said.

Immigration officials held U.S. citizen for two weeks (Los Angeles Times)

Immigration officials held U.S. citizen for two weeks
An ACLU attorney showed authorities his birth certificate and other documents to obtain his release.

By Anna Gorman
October 28, 2008

Federal authorities have released a Los Angeles man from immigration detention after acknowledging that he is a U.S. citizen.

Guillermo Olivares Romero, 25, was held at an Otay Mesa detention center from Sept. 25 until Oct. 9, when an American Civil Liberties Union attorney presented his birth certificate, school and vaccination records to immigration authorities. He was released that day.

Olivares, who has criminal convictions for robbery and forgery, had been deported twice and denied entry into the United States multiple times. Olivares said he and his mother, a legal permanent resident, showed authorities his birth certificate many times.

"They didn't believe me," Olivares, from Los Angeles, said Friday. "There was nothing I could do."

But Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice said Friday that Olivares said he was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. Olivares' statewide criminal rap sheet also shows that he was born in Mexico, Kice said.

"ICE would never knowingly remove or voluntarily return an individual who is a U.S. citizen," she said.

This is not the first time a U.S. citizen has been deported. Pedro Guzman of Lancaster spent 89 days in Mexico after being deported by immigration agents. ICE agents said Guzman too had falsely contended that he was Mexican.

Olivares first encountered immigration officials in 2000, when, they say, he was trying to smuggle in a relative using someone else's birth certificate. Olivares said officials wouldn't let him in that day but allowed him to return to the United States a week later when his mother came down with his birth certificate.

In 2007, he was deported after serving time in state prison. Olivares said he insisted that he was not Mexican, but immigration officials say he signed a document acknowledging that he was and that was why he was being deported. Olivares decided to live with relatives in Jalisco but said that this summer he tried to return because his father was ill. Authorities wouldn't let him in. Desperate to see his father before he passed away, he said, he crossed illegally through the mountains. Olivares said he was arrested in Imperial County and deported again at the beginning of September -- the day his father died.

Toward the end of September, he tried one last time to cross legally with his mother.

"They wanted me to sign deportation papers," he said. "I told them I wasn't going to sign anything and I wanted to see a judge." That's when authorities took him to the detention center near San Diego.

ACLU attorney Jennie Pasquarella said Olivares' situation underscores an immigration enforcement problem.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Nebraska's immigration court opens today (Omaha World Herald)

Nebraska's immigration court opens today

Published Monday October 27, 2008

Nebraska's new immigration court opened today, and Joseph Lopez-Wilson wanted to be part of history.

So the Omaha immigration lawyer waited as the doors were unlocked around 8 a.m. He had hoped to be the first to conduct business at the facility near Eppley Airfield at 1717 Ave. H.

It's wasn't the first time Lopez-Wilson was out front. Fresh out of law school 22 years ago, he represented the first and last immigrants in Omaha who applied for residency status under the 1986 amnesty law.

"Whenever new things happen, I want to be there," Lopez-Wilson said. "Anyway, somebody's got to do it."

Today began a new era in immigration court proceedings.

Two permanent judges supported by seven staff members will preside over the two new courtrooms.

Before, immigration cases were heard via video-teleconference by a judge from Chicago.

The Justice Department's decision to establish the court that will serve Nebraska and Iowa was prompted by a consistently high number of cases, said spokeswoman Susan Eastwood.

In Nebraska, more than 2,000 cases were filed annually in the past several years, ranking it third among the states that lacked their own immigration court. Iowa's annual load was between 600 and 700 since 2004.

Although the opening was met with no fanfare, attorneys who will use the courts expressed relief.

"It's beautiful," said Amy Peck, an immigration attorney. "We've gone from part-time court at 132nd Street to Council Bluffs to teleconferencing to now having two courtrooms with judges appearing in person. It's a much more convenient setup."

Paul Stultz, deputy chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which prosecutes cases coming through the facility, was in court today.

"This will add tremendous efficiency to the process," said Stultz. "We can file documents in person, we will receive court orders and decisions in person — and in court — instead of relying on fax machines and mail.

"Everything is better in person . . . ."

The first day of court appeared a little rocky, as the first immigrant on the day's docket waited with his teenage daughter in the lobby while the family's attorney sat in one of the new courtrooms.

Judge James R. Fujimoto had moved on to the next case when the man, a native of El Salvador, finally made his way into the courtroom. Fujimoto returned to the case when it became obvious who the man was.

"We're off to an interesting start," said the judge.

Fujimoto will hear cases this week, but teleconferencing will resume next week until the two permanent judges are trained.

The court will hear mostly deportation proceedings but also political asylum cases and other U.S. residency status reviews.

Immigration judges often ask questions during the proceeding and usually render a decision the same day. There is no jury.

Currently, court dates for new cases were being set for 2010. That wait time, attorneys said, could be cut in half.

Lopez-Wilson tried to file a motion today to reopen a client's deportation case but was told it had to happen in Chicago since that is where the case originally was filed.

He was still glad he arrived early to appreciate the new surroundings.

"I've been waiting for this for a long time," he said.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

4 accused of false ID to get hotel work (Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

4 accused of false ID to get hotel work


Posted on Saturday, October 25, 2008

Four people are charged in federal court with using fraudulent identification documents to work at Embassy Suites in Rogers.

The arrests stemmed from an inspection last month at the hotel by Northwest Arkansas’ Immigration Criminal Apprehension Task Force.

Police officers working with U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement make up the task force and arrest suspected illegal aliens for prosecution and deportation. The task force also inspects work-identification records at businesses in Washington and Benton counties to make sure they aren’t hiring illegal aliens.

On Sept. 28, the task force inspected the Embassy Suites of Northwest Arkansas at 3303 Pinnacle Hills Parkway, and arrested four employees, court records state.

They include a former naval attache at the Peruvian Embassy who overstayed his visa.

Nestor Eduardo Perales-Paredes of Rogers and the others are charged in U. S. District Court in Fayetteville with providing or misusing false documents to gain employment, records state.

The others are Maria Karina Salazar-Ortega of Lowell, Nora Pineda-Rodriguez of Rogers and Evangelina Catalan-Flores of Springdale.

All four made initial court appearances this month and are being held in area jails.

Perales-Paredes overstayed a visa issued while he worked as a naval attache at the Peruvian Embassy in Washington D. C., records state.

When he retired from the embassy, he moved to Northwest Arkansas. He’s overstayed the visa by four years, records state.

David Lang, general manager of Embassy Suites in Rogers, on Friday wouldn’t discuss what Perales-Paredes or the others did at the hotel. He said the four no longer work there, and the company has a policy not to comment about legal matters. Salazar-Ortega is accused of using a counterfeit Arkansas identification card to work at the hotel, according to court records.

Evangelina Catalan-Flores is accused of using a counterfeit Social Security number. And Nora Pineda-Rodriguez is accused of using a false name and false identification.

Lang said Embassy Suites does not face any action by the task force or other agency over the inspection.

County businesses audit sparks immigration investigation of 500 workers (Beaufort Gazette)

County businesses audit sparks immigration investigation of 500 workers

Published Sat, Oct 25, 2008 12:00 AM

BLUFFTON -- About 3,000 employee immigration forms have been audited at businesses in Beaufort as of last week, and more than 500 are questionable, according to Beaufort County auditors.

Many of those 500 workers probably used false or stolen identification cards to get their jobs, the auditors said.

The random audits of businesses were mandated by the Beaufort County Council in late 2006. A wide variety of companies are being randomly audited, but all are either based or doing business in unincorporated areas of the county.

Approximately 600 businesses have been audited, and about 25 of those appear to have hired workers who used fake or stolen IDs, said Larry McEllyn, managing director of Hilton Head Island-based Advance Point Global, which is conducting the checks for the county.

While 25 companies seems like a small number, McEllyn said, "Keep in mind that a lot of the businesses that we audit don't have any employees."

Additionally, many businesses that have been audited, like law firms, aren't likely to have hired illegal immigrants, he said.

"What's relevant is about 25 companies who've come up in our audit are responsible for between 500 and 600 instances of what we would call questionable documents," McEllyn said.

County administrator Gary Kubic has stressed that the county is giving businesses a chance to fix improperly filled-out immigration forms, called I-9s, or to fire workers using phony documents. The audits are meant to be instructive, not punitive, Kubic has said. But, if a business doesn't comply, it could lose its license to operate in the county.

In cases where ID fraud or theft is suspected, auditors are turning the information over to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office for possible criminal investigation.

Over the summer, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency trained and authorized five local sheriff's deputies to investigate federal immigration crimes, like ID fraud. Those officers began reviewing the county audits about 10 days ago, according to Sheriff P.J. Tanner.

Under federal law, an employer breaks the law by knowingly hiring an illegal immigrant. However, if a business unwittingly hires and illegal immigrant, it is not a crime.

ICE has faced criticism for cracking down harder on employees than on employers. The Wall Street Journal reported that last year ICE made 937 criminal arrests. Of those, 99 were managers, business owners or human resource employees.

Tanner said the evidence the local ICE deputies unearth will determine whether workers, employers or both face charges.

He couldn't say how long any investigations would take. "I've told (the deputies) to be extremely methodical," he said.

Illegal Immigration Battle May Be Waged Behind Bars (WMGH-Denver, CO)

Illegal Immigration Battle May Be Waged Behind Bars
Arapahoe County Wants To Enforce Immigration Law

POSTED: 3:43 pm MDT October 25, 2008

DENVER -- Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson has asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to train his jail employees so they can enforce federal immigration laws.

Deportation is not one of those potential new duties.

"We would conduct the investigation, we would complete the paperwork, and then we would present the information to the ICE agents in Denver and, eventually, to the U.S. Attorney's Office," Robinson said.

Two weeks ago, Robinson sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security requesting, as dozens of other law enforcement groups across the country have, four-weeks of special training.

Normally, that training takes place in South Carolina.

Robinson has asked for ICE to conduct the instruction in Colorado and hopes to have other sheriff's interested.

"This is where I stand and I'm hoping that my colleague sheriffs will join me," Robinson said.

He's also standing in direct opposition to his own, long-held views.

As many other agencies have said many times in recent years, they believe the illegal immigration issue must be handled by the federal government.

Washington has clearly been slow to act, which is part of the reason Robinson is acting now.

Incidents like Sept. 4 are also a factor. That was the day a suspected illegal immigrant named Francis Hernandez was involved in a horrible traffic accident in Aurora, leaving three dead.

One of them was a boy eating ice cream inside a Baskin-Robbins near Havana and Mississippi.

Hernandez was no stranger to law enforcement, having been pulled over several times prior to the deadly crash, including stops in Aurora and Arapahoe County.

ICE agents said his information was never entered into their databases.

Police and sheriff's deputies have said Hernandez claimed to be from California.

ICE spokespeople said he's here illegally and from Guatemala.

"Certainly high-profile cases amplify the need to move forward on this, " Robinson said.

After careful deliberation, Robinson said he did an about-face, deciding his local agency could help with this complex and sometimes deadly problem.

Once trained, jail staffers could access restricted federal computers to check on the immigration status of inmates where there is reason to question their residency.

"If we don't know their status, we are legally bound to release them on bond. When we release them on a bond, they could go back into the community, continue victimizing our community and still be illegal immigrants," Robinson said.

While praising the efforts of local agents, the sheriff said the workload is often too much for Denver-area ICE staffers to handle.

Federal Immigration reforms from 1996 allow federal-local partnerships, often referred to by the code number of 287 (g).

Currently, the Colorado State Patrol and the El Paso County Sheriff's Office have taken advantage of the training and have 287 (g) authority.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said in September that his trained staffers ran 500 inmates through federal computer records, finding more than 100 suspected illegals.

They also found 300 legal residents and Maketa believes the time saved getting the information themselves, has helped deputies shave 11 days off the average inmate's stay at the jail.

Immigration agents descend on small towns in southwestern Minnesota (Workday Minnesota)

Immigration agents descend on small towns in southwestern Minnesota

By Mary Turck
26 October 2008

MINNEAPOLIS - On October 21-23, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided homes in small southwestern Minnesota towns, including St. James and Madelia. Early reports were highly colored by fear and rumors, and overstated the numbers of arrests.
By the end of the week it appeared that only 19 persons had been detained by ICE. According to an ICE press release, 10 people were arrested in Madelia, five in St. James, two in Windom, and one each in Butterfield and Lewisville. Those arrested were from Mexico (11), Honduras (6), Guatemala (1) and El Salvador (1).

The ICE press release said that two Fugitive Operations Teams sought specific persons who had failed to appear for their immigration hearings or failed to leave the country after being ordered to do so. Six of the 19 people who were arrested were specifically targeted by the teams. The other 13 were characterized by ICE as “immigration violators encountered by ICE officers during their targeted arrests.”

St. James and Madelia, both small towns in southwestern Minnesota, have sizable Latino populations, with many families who have lived in the area since the late 1980s or early 1990s. St. James, with a population of 4695 according to the city’s web site, is the county seat of Watonwan County. Madelia, a dozen or so miles up the road, is about half that size.

At least 30 percent of the people who live in St. James are Latino, according to Watonwan Sheriff Gary Menssen. Mario Hernandez, a former resident of St. James, says that many of the families came to the area in the late 1980s and early 1990s, moving to the string of small towns along Highway 60 west of Mankato. Many work in meat processing plants, which include Tony Downs plants in both St. James and Madelia and an Armour Eckrich plant in St. James.

Unlike earlier ICE raids in Postville and Worthington, this week’s operations did not focus on workplaces. ICE spokesperson Tim Counts said that in workplace raids, the agency obtained civil and criminal search warrants, but that no such warrants were sought for this week’s operations.

“It is extremely understandable that rumors will pop up and people are frightened,” said John Keller, director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. “We have this image of people with lights turned off, waiting in fear as ICE comes to the door. ... We want to encourage people to seek legal advice before there’s a crisis. If you as an immigrant or someone you know has a prior deportation order or has had a run-in with the law, the most important thing you can do is to seek out competent immigration counsel to advise you before ICE is at your door.

“Complicated cases can take months and years to work through. It’s very difficult [for an immigration attorney] to drop everything to take on an emergency case. You are putting yourself in a position to be more successful if you do it proactively.”

Friday, October 24, 2008

15 illegal immigrants found in minivan on I-81 (Hagerstown Morning Herald)

15 illegal immigrants found in minivan on I-81
October 24, 2008

Fifteen illegal immigrants traveling from Texas to New York were found in a van on Interstate 81 near Hagerstown on Thursday, according to Maryland State Police.

At 5:52 p.m. Thursday, a trooper from the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division stopped a Ford minivan on northbound I-81 south of the U.S. 40 interchange for a traffic violation, police said in a news release.

After talking to the driver, police discovered the van was loaded with illegal immigrants, police said.

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service was contacted. INS agents came to the Hagerstown state police barrack and took custody of all 15 of the immigrants for deportation, the release said.

MS-13 gang suspects arrested in Bay Area raids (San Francisco Chronicle)

MS-13 gang suspects arrested in Bay Area raids

Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, October 23, 2008

(10-22) 14:26 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- Federal immigration agents arrested several alleged members of the notorious MS-13 street gang Wednesday after conducting raids at more than a dozen locations in San Francisco, Richmond and South San Francisco, authorities said.

Authorities said the investigation focused on a San Francisco faction of the violent group, also known as Mara Salvatrucha, which started in Southern California with roots in El Salvador.

"This is a major takedown," said Northern California U.S. Attorney Joe Russoniello, adding that the investigation dealt with alleged drug trafficking, gun running, terrorism and extortion activities of the group. He declined to provide further details about the raids.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice said that "targeting the criminal activity and violence perpetrated by street gangs is one of ICE's top priorities."

Most recently, authorities say, members of San Francisco's 20th Street clique of the gang have been tied to at least five slayings in the city, including the June 22 shooting in the Excelsior district that led to the deaths of Tony Bologna and his sons Matthew and Michael. Police say the family was mistaken for gang rivals and targeted after a shooting earlier in the day.

Police have also tied the group to the March 29 slayings of Ernad Joldic and Phillip Ng, men shot as they were sitting in a car early in the morning out front of a home in the Excelsior.

One of the alleged MS-13 members, Edwin Ramos, faces state charges in the Bologna killings. Another, Erick Lopez, is in custody on federal weapons charges stemming from his being arrested with the weapon that police later determined was used in the slayings of Ng and Joldic. He has not been charged in the homicides.

The raids were part of ICE's Operation Community Shield, which initially was aimed at the MS-13 group but has since grown to include other street and prison gangs.

Richmond police officials said officers assisted federal agents in Wednesday's raids in the East Bay city, including deploying a SWAT team.

Nate Ballard, spokesman for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, said the city's police department has worked with federal authorities on the case for years "and we are proud of the investigative work that our Police Department has been involved with."

South San Francisco police confirmed that they assisted federal agents in serving a search warrant on a location where one alleged gang member was arrested. Lt. Mike Newell said his department served a second search warrant on another member of the group, but he was later arrested outside South San Francisco.

‘MY LIFE IS HERE’ (Youngstown Vindicator)

Immigrant family pleads for son’s stay
The family has spent about $100,000 in legal fees so far.

Published:Thursday, October 23, 2008
By Denise Dick

BOARDMAN — He immigrated to the United States at 15, graduated from Boardman High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Youngstown State University.

But for the last 10 months, Virgil Ciprian “Chip” Gilea, 30, has been in jail.

He’s not charged with a crime.

He was at work Dec. 27, 2007, when agents from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement showed up and arrested him. He’s been locked up ever since.

He was first in Bedford Heights, Ohio, then Mahoning County Jail, and he’s now in Tiffin, Ohio — labeled a flight risk, unable to secure supervised release despite several attempts through the courts.

His family fears he could be put on a plane out of the country at any time.

“ICE doesn’t look at individuals, at what they’ve accomplished, what they’ve done for the community. People are just numbers,” Chip said via telephone from jail.

After earning his degree from YSU, he started working in 2004 for Energy Development Inc. at the Allied Waste carbon limestone landfill in Poland Township, where his father, Virgil Gilea, also works. In 2006, Chip bought a house in Austintown.

“These people came to this country, learned English, raised their children, sent them to school; they have jobs. They never cause any problems. Their home is always well maintained,” said Jeanne Hanuschak, a next-door neighbor of the family. “If we don’t want these kinds of people in this country, who do we want?”

She collected signatures from about 200 friends and supporters, asking for Chip’s release. The petitions were sent to local politicians and to President Bush. Supporters at the family’s church, Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church, Youngstown, have also written letters on Chip’s behalf.

“No one will take the time to sit down and look at this case and see what’s going on,” Hanuschak said.

In a July decision to continue his detention, ICE officials wrote: “Your lack of regard for the immigration laws of the United States is blatant.” Because of that, “along with facts that you have no equities in the United States, and little sponsorship if released, that you are considered to be a flight risk, and deemed likely to abscond.”

Chip and his family find that characterization puzzling.

“A person who’s a flight risk doesn’t buy a house, doesn’t work at the same company and live in the same community for years,” Chip said.

His father, a U.S. citizen, was at work the day of Chip’s arrest and tried to persuade the agents to allow his son to call his attorney before taking him away.

The agent “told me, ‘Stay back, you’re a U.S. citizen. You don’t want to harbor an illegal immigrant,’” Virgil said, his voice breaking. “He’s my son.”

An attorney from Cleveland, formerly retained by the family, was notified about the problem: Chip stayed in the U.S. beyond his authorized period of admission. That resulted in a notice in 2001 to appear before an immigration judge, Chip’s first indication there was a problem. Chip went to court in 2002 and was given until March 2003 to file an application requesting asylum.

But the attorney filed the application three days late and a judge denied it.

Chip was granted a voluntary departure order, which would have allowed him to leave the country voluntarily within 30 days without deportation. His attorney at the time failed to inform him. So, Chip didn’t leave within 30 days.

The attorney even filed paperwork with the court attesting to the fact that Chip didn’t know about the order.

Since then, he’s traveled throughout the country for his job, and hasn’t encountered any difficulties.

“If I would have known about the voluntary departure, I would have done it,” Chip said. “At least that would have given me time to get things in order.”

When a person is deported, they’re barred from five years to life from returning to the U.S.

Now, ICE agents have told him that he’ll be deported by next week. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals last week denied a motion for a stay in his case.

An agent will take him to the airport and he’ll fly to Bucharest. All he can take with him is a 50-pound bag, and the agency won’t tell him his exact departure date for “security reasons,” Chip said.

His parents and sister are in the U.S. The only family in Romania are his maternal grandparents, who are both elderly; one suffers from dementia.

“From Bucharest, it’s seven hours to my grandparents’ house either by car or by train,” Chip said.

Michael Gilhooly, an ICE spokesman, said that after the initial voluntary departure order, Chip’s attorneys filed an appeal and in November 2004 Chip received another voluntary departure order, giving him until December of that year to leave.

He wasn’t arrested until December 2007 because his appeals process wasn’t exhausted until that November, Gilhooly said.

Chip is considered a flight risk and has remained in detention because when agents came to arrest him, he fled, Gilhooly said. Agents apprehended him after a half-mile foot chase, the spokesman said.

Both Virgil and Chip contend that Chip left the building to try to get a cell phone signal to call his attorney.

While Chip doesn’t face criminal charges, he’s been charged with an immigration violation, Gilhooly said.

“It’s a crime to be in the U.S. illegally,” he said.

The ordeal has taken a toll on the family in many ways.

His family has spent about $100,000 in legal fees since Chip’s arrest. They’ve also made his house and car payments, first with Chip’s money and then with their own.

“Without my family, I would have lost everything,” Chip said.

Virgil, Chip’s mother, Minerva, and his younger sister, Bianca, make the roughly three-hour drive each week to visit Chip in jail.

But they can’t hug, kiss or touch their son and brother. Glass separates inmates and visitors.

Minerva holds her hand up, palm out to show how she and Chip press their hands on either side of the glass to feel closer.

Virgil has begun to dip into his retirement savings to pay all of the bills. Minerva said she’s lost 70 pounds since the case began and cries often. Bianca, 27, who got engaged about two years ago, has put her wedding on hold.

“I don’t want any other family to have to go through what we’re going through,” Bianca said.

Virgil and Minerva came to the U.S. in 1990, leaving their two children with their grandparents in Romania.

“I came with $15 in my pocket and two suitcases,” Virgil said.

The couple spoke no English but learned, taking classes at the former Mahoning County Joint Vocational School.

In 1994, with help from his then-employer, BFI, Virgil was able to bring his children to the U.S.

“We were already split from our children once for four years,” Minerva said. “Now, we’re separated from our son again.”

The children didn’t speak English but learned while students at Boardman, where both graduated. They both also earned degrees from YSU.

Bianca was granted citizenship because of her younger age. Chip wasn’t.

“I’ve lived here for half of my life — all of my adult life. My life is here,” Chip said.

He still loves this country. “It’s still the country of opportunity if you have the will,” he said. “I just don’t agree with how ICE treats people.”

He’s hopeful that after he leaves, a new Cleveland attorney’s attempts to secure him a waiver of the ban prohibiting re-entry to the U.S. will be successful and he’ll be able to rejoin his family. But he doesn’t know how long that process will take.

The family is grateful for the community support. Some of Chip’s co-workers, however, say they’re disappointed that calls to area politicians haven’t helped.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Charlie A. Wilson Jr. of St. Clairsville, D-6th, said the congressman doesn’t comment on cases that are pending.

Minerva said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office has recently taken an interest in the case.

Meghan Dubyak, Brown’s spokeswoman, said the office plans a letter to immigration officials asking that they give “full consideration” to Chip’s latest appeal. There are at least five identifiable errors in paperwork filed when Chip first arrived in the U.S., she said.

“It seems to me that the whole family is getting a bad deal from our whole country and from our politicians,” said Rick Durham, who’s worked for about five years at Energy Developments. “I think the whole thing is disgusting.”

Virgil has been in this country for 20 years, paying his taxes, following the rules and trying to do things the right way, said Durham, the plant’s lead operator and health and safety coordinator. “It’s terrible.”

Durham described Chip as a hardworking, knowledgeable employee and an honest, respectful man.

“Chip was a good worker and a clean-cut kid with manners,” said Tim Powell, the plant’s operations supervisor. Powell said he doesn’t understand why the government wants to deport Chip when the mistake was someone else’s.

“I would never say I’m not proud to be an American,” Powell said. “But it sure makes you downhearted about it.”

Immigration sweep complete (Mankato Free Press)

Immigration sweep complete

By Dan Nienaber
The Free Press

ST. JAMES — A federal Immigration Customs and Enforcement sweep that resulted in several arrests in Madelia and St. James was over Thursday, said Watonwan County Sheriff Gary Menssen.

“I think they’re done now,” Menssen said Thursday morning. “They’re still here, but they’re not out doing anything anymore.”

Menssen said he had one deputy assist federal agents who had a list of addresses they wanted to check and people they wanted to take into custody. The county’s jail also was used to temporarily hold people who were being questioned or had been arrested by the agents, he said.

The number of people taken into custody wasn’t being released Thursday by the Immigration Customs and Enforcement agency office in Bloomington. Comparing the Watonwan County operation to a May sweep in Iowa that resulted in 389 arrests, Tim Counts, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security agency, said there were “far fewer” arrests during this operation.

St. James and Madelia both have high populations of Hispanic residents, including many adults who have lived in the cities most of their lives.

Immigration officers previously have traveled to St. James, the county seat, to pick up illegal immigrants who have been arrested for other offenses, Menssen said. But this is the first time the federal agency has sent a team of agents to the county to sweep through residences, he said.

Although there was a specific list of people the agents were looking for, they also were arresting anyone else they suspected was in the United States illegally, Menssen said. Word traveled quickly about the operation after agents started making arrests Tuesday in Madelia, he said, so some of the people being targeted were likely warned.

Not knowing how many people were facing arrest, school officials in St. James put a plan in place that kept staff at school so students would have somewhere to go if their parents weren’t home. No students returned to any of the three St. James schools Wednesday, Supt. Nordy Nelson said.

Counts would not say whether the sweep was over or if it had moved to other areas in south-central Minnesota.

Customers at El Sarape, a St. James grocery, were saying federal agents had arrested people in Lewisville and Butterfield, said Lorenzo Leal, the store’s owner. He also said the raids are making people uncomfortable.

“I know they have a list of people they’re looking for, but I feel kind of funny out there because white people are looking at me differently,” Leal said. “I feel like I’m being profiled. It’s a strange feeling.”

In May, Immigration Customs and Enforcement agents arrested 49 people during a four-day operation in Willmar. After those raids, Alondra Espejel, an advocate from the Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network, told Minnesota Public Radio she had not heard of immigration agents doing sweeps in the state that lasted more than a day.

People arrested for immigration violations appear before a federal judge, Counts said. If a judge decides they should be deported, there is an appeal process.

Those who are going through an appeal are usually released from custody if there are no other criminal charges pending, Counts said. Those who are eventually ordered to leave the country are arrested if they don’t comply.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Anonymous tip leads police to alleged West Valley drop house (

Anonymous tip leads police to alleged West Valley drop house

8:03 AM Mountain Standard Time on Wednesday, October 22, 2008
3TV and Staff

PHOENIX -- An anonymous call led investigators to a West Valley drop house where half a dozen people were taken into custody overnight.

Tuesday night's tip came from somebody living in the neighborhood of 67th Avenue and Encanto. That person said something didn't seem right at the house.

Investigators arrived on the scene and observed what they believed to be human smuggling activity.

Once inside, they found at least six undocumented immigrants and several alleged coyotes.

All of those people were taken into custody.

"We saw some activity inside the house, kind of looking through the window that confirmed the suspicious activity, the original story we were told," said Sgt. David Montoya of the Phoenix Police Department. "We had our Special Assignments Unit come out and they assisted us with pulling the people out of the house."

Investigators said it looked like the undocumented immigrants had just been dropped off at the house.

Investigators were still on the scene early Wednesday morning, working to sort out the situation.

Those taken into custody were to be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Illegal alien caught for the fifth time (AP c/o Concord Monitor)

Illegal alien caught for the fifth time

October 22, 2008 - 12:00 am
The Associated Press

A native of Mexico who has been deported four times is being detained in New Hampshire after returning to the United States again. Federal prosecutors in Concord say 33-year-old Enrique Ramirez-Reyes of Nashua pleaded guilty Monday to illegally entering the country after being deported. The U.S. attorney's office says he will be detained pending a sentencing hearing scheduled for Jan. 27.

Illegal immigrant is detained (The Reporter)

POLICE LOG: Illegal immigrant is detained [2nd item]

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 7:31 AM EDT

By: The Reporter


Horsham Police officers recently responded to the area of Whetstone and Ember lanes for the report of a suspicious person.

The caller said he had seen a Hispanic male, dressed only in camouflage shorts, hiding in the woods, police said.

Upon arrival, the person had left the woods and was with other landscapers from Total Turf Landscaping Services, police said. All five people were put through routine checks and information was received that four of them had proper work visas and one did not.

After further questioning Manuel Lopez, 28, of no fixed address, admitted he has been in the country illegally for two years, police said.

At the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Lopez was taken into custody and transported to the police station, police said.

A detainer was faxed to Horsham Police by ICE and Lopez was transported to Montgomery County Correctional Facility to be held until he could be released to ICE for a deportation hearing.

Repatriations, deportations create dilemma for families with young U.S. citizens (Dallas Morning News)

Repatriations, deportations create dilemma for families with young U.S. citizens

12:00 AM CDT on Wednesday, October 22, 2008

By DIANNE SOLÍS / The Dallas Morning News / The Dallas Morning News
Laurence Iliff contributed to this report.

It's at bedtime that Jorge Barraza misses his father most. The 5-year-old, clutching two stuffed animals, is dressed in pajamas and a felt cowboy hat just like his dad's. But such comforts don't make up for the absence of Juan Carlos Barraza, a Mexican migrant repatriated to his old hometown.

"He's really in Mexico. By himself," Jorge says in English. "We went to visit him, and the first night I wanted to get home."

Jorge, who lives in Mesquite with his mother, is one of nearly 3.5 million children in the U.S. caught in the middle of the national debate about illegal immigration – born in this country to a parent who is an illegal immigrant.

Amid the biggest wave of repatriations and deportations in decades, these children are being pulled in two directions – a situation that the U.S. government blames on the parents.

"The responsibility of these decisions rests with the parents, not with ICE," says Carl Rusnok of U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement.

Some, like Jorge, stay in the U.S. without one of their parents.

Others, like 8-year-old Leslee Acuitlapa, are asked to start new lives in countries that are foreign to them.

For almost a year, Leslee and her family have lived in Malinalco, a town of about 8,000 about 80 miles south of Mexico City. Its fresco-filled convent and Aztec temple draw weekend tourists, as does the nearby golf course. But there's also considerable poverty, and the Acuitlapas are living in it.

As a construction worker, José Acuitlapa makes a fraction of what he did as a golf course groundskeeper in Georgia, where the family had a three-bedroom house. Here, everyone sleeps in one room, and the three children haven't had an easy adjustment.

Leslee once drew pictures of an airplane and a sun with beams of tears.

"I had to leave," her caption read. Her 3-year-old sister, Sarah, clings constantly to their mother; 13-year-old brother Justin finds school easy. Among his classes is English as a second language.

Their U.S. citizen mother, Marty Parsons Acuitlapa, says simply, "They miss Georgia."


Jeffrey S. Passel, a senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, says the magnitude of the immigration issues facing the U.S. is unprecedented.

"For the first 100 years of U.S. history, there was no such thing as an illegal immigrant," Mr. Passel says. "And for the next 50 years, if you showed up, they let you in. We didn't have a significant illegal immigrant population living here until the 1970s."

The number of undocumented immigrants is estimated to be about 12 million – the most in U.S. history.

Under the 14th Amendment, children born in this country generally are citizens by right, regardless of the immigration status of their parents.

Some would like to see birthright citizenship ended and argue that the 14th Amendment has been legally misinterpreted.

Others want legislation passed that would limit automatic citizenship at birth to children born in the U.S. who have a parent who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Rep. Nathan Deal of Georgia has sponsored such legislation – his latest attempt in early August – but the measure hasn't gone far.

And there seems little chance that the Constitution will be amended further.

For those who stay in the U.S., life can be harsh. Raids by immigration authorities, house arrests and greater scrutiny by local police have led to a record number of interior removals by federal authorities.

A study last year by the Urban Institute, a Washington-based think tank, found that children whose parents were caught in raids suffered from feelings of abandonment, of being outcasts.

And a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association last month said that the jump in immigration enforcement placed children at a heightened risk for depression and anxiety disorders.

Blaming the parents

The federal agency that enforces immigration laws says the parents are to blame if these children suffer.

"This comes down to the children or family being impacted negatively by the decisions of their parents," says Carl Rusnok of U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement.

Others say that the children shouldn't get a free pass to live in the U.S. just because of their parents' decision to come here.

Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum and a recent delegate to the Republican Party convention, said parents "have prepared the way for a difficult future by breaking the law."

"But I would encourage them to stay with the children," she said. "If they came here illegally, I would encourage them to go home and come in the right way."

The solution is simple, says Joe Kennard, a real estate developer who lives part time in Waxahachie. He started so church groups could sponsor a U.S. citizen-child with financial help to cover rent, schooling and other expenses. He says parents of these children should not be sent away.

"These are fellow citizens left in limbo," Mr. Kennard says of the children. "The radicals say that they deserve what they get. I say: Why?"

Last year on Sept. 9, Ms. Parsons Acuitlapa went to the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juárez with her husband, hoping his green card would finally be approved based on her status as a U.S. citizen.

Instead, he was barred by U.S. consular officials from re-entry into the U.S. for 10 years because he had entered the country illegally.

Ms. Parsons Acuitlapa decided the family couldn't live apart. A month later, she and the children reunited with her husband.

"Some say we would have been better off not to have applied for papers," she says.

And she emphasizes that she and her children didn't "come back" to Mexico.

"We were forced to come to a place we didn't know," she said. "I hope that the laws change in the U.S."

Mesquite is home

Jorge's mother, Yvette Medrano-Barraza, 27, chose to stay in the U.S. to keep her son in Mesquite schools.

She had visited her husband's hometown of Recodo after he was barred in March from re-entry to the U.S. But the schools there were substandard, she decided, and far too many people in the Mexican state of Sinaloa were involved in the drug trade.

"My husband made the choice to come here illegally," says Ms. Medrano-Barraza, a U.S. citizen. "I made the choice of marrying him, knowing he was here illegally. My son didn't make a choice to have a dad who was here illegally."

These days in Mesquite, Jorge tells his mother, "I am angry with my dad because he left us."

Ms. Medrano-Barraza has abandoned the $70,000 house she bought. She lives with an aunt to save on utilities. And she's done a voluntary repossession on her small sport utility vehicle. She sends her husband $200 a month, sometimes half that. She's taking medication to fight depression and insomnia.

In Recodo, Mr. Barraza makes $25 a week – a fraction of the $600 he sometimes earned as a Texas chimney cleaner.

Each night, he waits for his wife's call, Mr. Barraza says in a phone interview. And when he talks to his son and Jorge asks when he'll return, he says only "pronto." Never anything more. "I can't say more."

ICE to investigate complaint involving workers in Tazewell (Bluefield Daily Telegraph)

ICE to investigate complaint involving workers in Tazewell

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
October 20, 2008 08:04 pm

TAZEWELL, Va. — A complaint involving a group of alleged immigrant workers in Tazewell County has been turned over to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, officials said Monday.

The Virginia State Police responded to a report of suspicious activity Sunday at 6:30 p.m. on U.S. Route 460 about a mile from Fort Witten after several motorists spotted a tractor trailer on the side of the four-lane where about 55 immigrant workers were loading greenery, Sgt. Michael Conroy, of the Virginia State Police Wytheville Fourth District Area Headquarters, said.

“The trooper went to investigate it, and it turned out to be a bunch of workers hired by a trucking company to load up greenery on the side of the road,” Conroy said.

“Most of the workers there couldn’t produce any type of identification. So the trooper got the information, and called ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement),” he said.

Conroy said the incident will be handled by ICE. Conroy said the state police will not file any charges as a result of the complaint because there was no indication of illegal activity.

“We can’t arrest somebody simply because their immigration status is in question,” Conroy said. “That’s not something we can enforce. There wasn’t any state statutes we could enforce.”

Conroy said the motorists who reported the suspicious activity did the correct thing.

“We appreciate the citizens calling in the suspicious activity,” Conroy said.

Conroy said many of the callers were concerned that the immigrant workers represented a potential traffic hazard because the greenery was being loaded onto the truck at a close proximity to Route 460.

Trooper D.E. Olinger investigated the incident for the Virginia State Police.

Four Illegal Aliens Detained in I-80 Stop (Gant Daily)

Four Illegal Aliens Detained in I-80 Stop

October 21st, 2008
Aaron T. Evans, editor

BRADFORD TOWNSHIP – Clearfield-based state police have announced the detention of four illegal aliens along Interstate 80 on Monday morning.

According to police the four were stopped for a traffic violation near mile marker 122 westbound, and it was determined that they were in the country illegally.

Gabriel Antonio Delacruz, Julio Cesar Tiburcio Hernandez, Juan Antonio Hernandez-Molina and Fransico Javier Merchant-Mondragon, all of Mexico, were detained until Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials from Pittsburgh arrived and took them into custody for deportation proceedings.

Police: Traffic stop leads to arrest of illegal immigrants (Glens Falls Post-Star)

Police: Traffic stop leads to arrest of illegal immigrants

Staff reports
Published: Tuesday, October 21, 2008

WARRENSBURG — Three illegal immigrants from Mexico were jailed early Tuesday after they were found to have counterfeit immigration documents and Social Security cards, police said.

The trio came under police scrutiny at 12:29 a.m. when Warren County sheriff’s Patrol Officer Jeremy Coon pulled over a car in which the three were traveling on Route 9 in Warrensburg, officials said. Police said the car was pulled over for "numerous" vehicle and traffic violations, though police did not specify those violations in a news release.

The driver was found to have a fake driver’s license, and all three had fake Social Security and permanent resident cards, police said.

Charged with second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, a felony, were Edgar L. Canella, 19; Gabriel C. Cruz, 23; and Lorenzo M. Cristiani, all of Whitehall.

Police did not specify which of the three was driving the car. They said the men admitted they had been in the United States for about two years.

All three were being held in Warren County jail pending prosecution and investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

Coon and Warren County sheriff’s Investigator Ed Affinito handled the case.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Illegal Immigrant Sweep, 20 Arrested (WTVW-IN)

Illegal Immigrant Sweep, 20 Arrested

Reported by: Web Producer
Tuesday, Oct 21, 2008 @09:31pm CST

A three-day sweep by agents with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement resulted in 20 arrests in seven southern Indiana counties, including Vanderburgh.

The Jasper Herald reports that seven of the illegal immigrants were fugitives with outstanding deportation orders.

13 were found to be in the United States illegally.

Some of the illegal immigrants were picked up at their homes.

Agents also went to Farbest Foods in Huntingburg, the Wal-mart Supercenter in Jasper, and the YMCA in Washington.

All 20 detainees will be deported.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nevada Prison Officials Offering Deals To Illegal Immigrants (KTNV-Las Vegas, NV)

Nevada Prison Officials Offering Deals To Illegal Immigrants

Updated: Oct 20, 2008 06:05 PM

They are stepping up their efforts to deport prison inmates who are illegal immigrants.

Nevada prison officials are offering "deals" to get them to leave.

A Department of Corrections spokesperson says about 100 inmates signed waivers saying they would not fight deportation if they were immediately eligible for parole.

Then those inmates were given a list of conditions, before ICE officers took them to the border.

One official says that, so far, none of those inmates have returned.

Keep it tuned to Channel 13 Action News.

Illegal Alien Enforcement Unit Arrests Two (WMBB-Panama City, FL)

gal Alien Enforcement Unit Arrests Two

10/20/08 - 04:27 PM
Bay County Sheriff Office

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office Illegal Alien Enforcement Unit arrested two individuals this morning, October 20, 2008, when a search of their residence turned up narcotics and stolen social security numbers.

During an attempt early today to locate a fugitive, the Illegal Alien Enforcement Unit obtained consent to search a residence at 168 Beth Street, Panama City Beach. Cocaine and marijuana was found in the home as well as fake ID cards and stolen social security numbers. Further investigation revealed that the two men living in the home were in this country illegally.

Arrested was Jose Cruz-Chinchilla, DOB 10/28/86, of 168 Beth Street, on charges of Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Marijuana less than 20 grams and Possession of Drug Related Paraphernalia. A hold has been placed on him for Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Also arrested was Maynor Arcenio Guevara-Yanes, DOB 4/12/90, of 168 Beth Street, on charges of Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Marijuana less than 20 grams, and Possession of Drug Related Paraphernalia. A hold has been placed on Guevara-Yanes for ICE as he, too, entered the US illegally from Honduras about three years ago.


Prepared by R. Sasser
Information by Inv. R. Bagwell.

Eight arrested in Q-C immigration operation (Quad-City Times)

Eight arrested in Q-C immigration operation

By Dustin Lemmon | Monday, October 20, 2008 7:10 PM CDT

Eight people were arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Quad-City area over the weekend for failing to comply with court deportation orders.

Gail Montenegro, a spokeswoman with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Chicago, said the fugitive operation was conducted in six states from Friday to Sunday and resulted in local arrests in Davenport, Rock Island, East Moline, Monmouth, Ill., and Rock Falls, Ill.

Montenegro would not release the names of those arrested but said they will be detained until their deportation can be arranged.

“These are people who had their day in immigration court and failed to
comply,” she said.

Those arrested included four from Mexico, two from China, one from Sierra Leone and one from Liberia, she said. Of those taken into custody, three have criminal records for crimes, including drug possession, drunken driving and domestic battery, Montenegro said.

ICE opened an office in the Quad-Cities earlier this year so agents could conduct local investigations. Montenegro said agents target specific individuals and that ICE does not conduct random immigration sweeps.

Immigration status unresolved before children's arrival (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Immigration status unresolved before children's arrival

By Leslie Berestein and David Hasemyer

October 20, 2008

Almost 17 years after Nick and Alice Zizzo adopted a brown-eyed, chubby-cheeked baby girl through San Diego County's child welfare system, she came home one day bubbling that her high school choir was going to Europe.

The Rancho San Diego couple helped their daughter, Stephanie, apply for a passport in fall 2006, then waited for it to arrive. What they received instead was a piece of stupefying news from the federal government: Stephanie wasn't a U.S. citizen. She wasn't even in the country legally.

County officials have acknowledged putting Stephanie Zizzo and at least four other adoptees born in other countries, including Mexico and Kenya, in legal limbo by not resolving their immigration status before adoption.

In the year and a half since the cases began to surface, the county has updated its policies to require that a child's legal residency be established before they leave the system. But no one knows how many children were adopted without it, or what they'll face trying to stay in the only country they've known.

“After all these years thinking everything was OK, to hear that there were problems was stunning,” said Alice Zizzo, 55, who like her husband is a U.S. citizen.

Stephanie's adoption records indicate she was born in Tijuana in 1989 to a woman believed to be a U.S. citizen. According to the Zizzos, county social workers assured them when the adoption process started five months later that there were no immigration issues.

Adoption is not enough to grant citizenship or legal resident status to children who are in the United States illegally or whose immigration status cannot be proven. Such adoptees are vulnerable to deportation, cannot work legally when grown and, in many states, cannot obtain in-state college tuition.

“Any person who enters the U.S. as a child and does not have documents with which to reside here is in peril of being deported,” said Jan Bejar, an immigration attorney retained by the county to assist families who have filed claims over the issue. “The problem is, once a person is adopted, people think he is a citizen and can't be deported. The hell he can't.”

The county has paid $15,000 for two immigration attorneys to help the five families untangle the mess, along with $37,900 in damages to two families that filed claims, including the Zizzos. More are expected to come forward as their adopted children become adults and seek employment, passports or college admission.

Mary Harris, director of the county's Health and Human Services Agency, said child welfare workers in the 1980s and 1990s might have assumed citizenship was established as part of the adoption process.

“There was not as much attention to or understanding of immigration law at that time,” Harris said. “We are child welfare specialists, not immigration specialists. We are, first and foremost, trying to see that these children are in a stable family environment.”

As unusual as these cases seem, they have happened elsewhere. Los Angeles County officials said they have not encountered the problem, but two Orange County adoptees learned in recent years that their immigration status was in question.
In Sonoma County, Susan Piland applied for a Social Security card for her Mexican-born son eight years ago and was shocked to learn that the boy, adopted through the state a year earlier, was undocumented.

“When you talk to people about this situation, they tell you, 'This can't be right,' ” said Piland, who established the advocacy group SueCares to push for reforms.

Piland said she has received calls from a half-dozen families in her situation, including the parents of an 18-year-old adopted girl who was afraid to report a date rape after learning her status was in question. Piland suspects many other families are unaware they have a problem.

Under a 1990 federal law, dependents of the court – children whose biological parents' rights have been terminated – are eligible for special juvenile immigrant status, which entitles them to become legal permanent residents. However, they lose that privilege once they leave the system, either through emancipation or adoption.

Child welfare workers are not legally required to screen children for immigration status or eligibility under the 1990 law, said Yali Lincroft, a consultant to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a Baltimore-based nonprofit group that supports child and family welfare initiatives.

“There is nothing in the books,” Lincroft said. “It almost seems like a no-brainer. If we want them to be adopted, surely it means we want them in the country.”

Piland led an unsuccessful campaign four years ago for state legislation that would have required child welfare officials to ensure children receive legal status before emancipation or adoption. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the legislation, citing funding reasons. A similar measure is pending in Congress.

A federal law passed in 2000 grants automatic citizenship to most children adopted from abroad, but the law only covers adoptees brought into the country legally or who obtain legal status as minors.

The process becomes far more difficult once they reach adulthood, particularly after they turn 21.

Children adopted in the United States before age 16 may be sponsored by their parents for legal residency until they are 21, but adults must apply for their immigrant visa abroad if they entered the United States illegally, and there are significant risks in leaving the country.

For starters, anyone over 18 who has been in the country illegally for more than a year can be banned from re-entering for 10 years. Adults applying abroad can seek a waiver of unlawful presence, but these are frequently denied.

“Say you have been here for a year or more without permission since you were 18,” said Sally Kinoshita, deputy director of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco. “Maybe you will get a waiver and get back in. Or you'll get stuck and you can't come back in.”

Piland, who once devised a plan to hide her son from immigration authorities, said she believes child welfare agencies have a moral duty to follow through on the status of children who didn't choose to come here.

“They are in charge of making sure they aren't abused, of getting them a home, of taking care of them,” said Piland, whose son now has a green card. “Isn't making sure they have legal status taking care of them? The court becomes their parent. The immigration decision is made when the court terminates parental rights.”

Most known cases in San Diego County are on their way to being resolved, but it will take some adoptees longer than others to obtain citizenship.

By Stephanie Zizzo's calculation, she'll be eligible to apply Nov. 5, 2012. She received legal status last year, after her family filed a claim against the county. A person must be a legal permanent resident for five years before applying for naturalization.

Stephanie always considered herself American. According to her adoption records, she was born in a Tijuana hospital to a homeless woman who was covered with insect bites, cigarette burns and needle tracks. She spoke only English, leading Mexican authorities to surmise she was a U.S. citizen who had wandered south.

The woman had no identification except for a credit card in the name of a U.S. Marine sergeant who had reported it stolen. Until she was adopted, Stephanie was known only by the last name on the credit card.

Within 12 hours of her birth, the baby and her mother were brought to the San Ysidro border crossing and taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital in Chula Vista. There, a social worker noted that a U.S. consular official had certified the mother was a U.S. citizen. But she was deemed mentally ill, and the county took custody of the baby.

The Zizzos, who had already adopted a boy from Mexico with no problems, said they asked county officials if there were any immigration issues before adopting Stephanie when she was 5 months old.

“They kept telling us, 'No, no, everything is OK,' ” Alice Zizzo said.

Even when the family adopted a second baby girl born to the same woman in 1991, this time on U.S. soil, they were not alerted to any questions about Stephanie's nationality.

The Zizzos filed their claims with the county about a year and a half ago, and they have since received county-sponsored legal assistance along with $33,500 in damages.

Stephanie is lucky in that she received her green card last November. Because she was a minor when she applied for legal status, she was spared an uncertain trip across the border. But she still must wait in line for citizenship, just like a recent immigrant.

“I'm going to do what I have to do,” said Stephanie, now 19 and attending Cuyamaca College. “But it's hard, because I think of myself as a citizen.”