Friday, February 27, 2009

Illegal immigrant deported from Vermont (Burlington Free Press)

Illegal immigrant deported from Vermont

February 27, 2009

A Venezuelan man who twice in one day attempted to enter the U.S. illegally at Vermont border crossings was ordered deported to Canada, the U.S. District Attorney's Office said.

Prosecutors say that Tuesday, David Manzano Zambrano, 37, tried to enter the U.S. at the Highgate Springs border crossing and was turned away.

He later attempted to cross the border at the East Berkshire port of entry, federal officials said. He pleaded guilty Thursday and was sentenced to time served before being deported to Canada, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors say that tuesday, David Manzano Zambrano, 37, tried to enter the U.S. at the Highgate Springs border crossing and was turned away.

He later attempted to cross the border at the East Berkshire port of entry, federal officials said. He pleaded guilty Thursday and was sentenced to time served before being deported to Canada, prosecutors said.

Judge delays deportation of immigrant (WPRI-Providence, RI)

Judge delays deportation of immigrant
Judge delays deportation in RI detainee death case

Updated: Friday, 27 Feb 2009, 12:22 PM EST

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - An El Salvadoran man can stay in the country so lawyers can question him about the death of a Chinese immigrant who died in the custody of a Central Falls detention facility.

U.S. District Court Judge William Smith decided yesterday to delay the deportation of Roger Gracias Lozano until May 12 so he can testify.

Lozano was a cellmate of Hiu Lui “Jason” Ng (HYEW’ Lew Eng), who died of cancer in August, weeks after being taken to the privately run Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls. Ng was detained for allegedly overstaying his visa.

A federal lawsuit filed by Ng’s widow alleges that Ng was abused and denied medical care.

Smuggling suspects, migrants arrested at drophouse (The Arizona Republic)

Smuggling suspects, migrants arrested at drophouse
Arpaio: People were held hostage in Avondale

by Tyler Lockman - Feb. 27, 2009 09:59 AM
The Arizona Republic

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office arrested five human smugglers and detained 25 undocumented immigrants being held against their will Thursday at a drophouse in Avondale, officials said.

The raid was the result of information obtained from law-enforcement officials in Tennessee regarding one of the victims. Maricopa County Sheriff's officials tracked a cellphone linked to the investigation to a home in the 12300 block of West Joblanca Road.

A SWAT team surrounded the home about 7 p.m. Five smugglers were nabbed as they attempted to flee, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.

Arpaio said the smugglers used Tasers on the victims, and deputies found loaded shotguns and handguns in the house, which he characterized as a "violent drophouse with extortion, kidnapping and ransom ingredients."

"This is not just a regular drophouse," Arpaio said. "These people were held hostage."

Arpaio estimated that the victims had been in the home for between four and 25 days. No injuries were reported.

All 25 victims were taken into custody and are subject to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold.

The Sheriff's Office has arrested about 80 undocumented immigrants in recent days.

"Everyone says that Phoenix is Number 1 for kidnappings related to drug cartels, but this is not because of that," Arpaio said. "This is a kidnapping hostage situation caused by illegal immigration."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jail on ICE (Lake County News-Sun)

Jail on ICE
End-of-term deportation has become routine

February 25, 2009

WAUKEGAN -- With immigration officials flanking them, two men shuffled toward a waiting vehicle at Lake County Jail.

Once inside the low-profile Chevy Trailblazer, the two Mexican nationals were whisked away by immigration officials, possibly never to return to Lake County again.

It's a scene that has been repeated dozens of times a month at the jail, and on Tuesday, reporters were allowed a peek into a process that local and federal officials have been lauding for months.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Criminal Alien Program has led to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants being detained in jails across the country. The program identifies illegal aliens that come through jails and then detains them until their sentences are served, at which time they are deported.

Since the program began in September 2007, roughly 260 inmates at the jail have had detainers placed on them. And a majority of them were eventually deported, said Gail Montenegro, a public affairs officer with ICE.

Lake County was praised Tuesday as one of the jails that works well with ICE officials. James McPeek, a field office director from ICE's Chicago office, said the dedication shown by Sheriff Mark Curran and his staff is vital to the program's success.

"We have a very good relationship with Lake County," McPeek said. "We've seen some very positive results."

McPeek said Lake County has among the greatest number of detainees for Chicago's collar counties. According to Curran, 152 of the jail's 655 inmates are foreign born. And of those 152, roughly 90 percent are illegal aliens.

On Tuesday, ICE and the sheriff allowed reporters to look on as newly arrested illegal immigrants were interviewed by immigration officials, and two other illegal immigrants were sent to ICE's Broadview holding facility after completing their sentences for domestic battery charges. Once they are taken away from Lake County, ICE begins the deportation process, which averages about 14 days.

Though all of the men interviewed Tuesday were of Mexican descent, not everyone detained is Hispanic. While the number is much lower, the jail also has illegal European immigrants, said jail chief Jennifer Witherspoon.

Curran said he hopes the deportations will discourage illegal immigrants from committing crimes in Lake County and from coming here for any reason.

"We hope it to be a deterrent. Lake County plays hardball," the sheriff said. "We enforce the rule of the law."

Curran said he wants to have ICE officials in Lake County permanently. The sheriff said he wants to look at transforming the jail's work-release section into an area for ICE to house detained inmates. Such use would result in federal assistance to the county.

Traffic Stop Leads To 2 Arrests (KPHO-Phoenix, AZ)

Traffic Stop Leads To 2 Arrests

UPDATED: 3:19 pm MST February 24, 2009

PHOENIX -- Two men were arrested on charges of human smuggling Monday after a traffic stop off Interstate 10 near Elliot Road in Tempe, police said.

An Arizona Department of Public Safety officer tried to stop a white Ford cargo van traveling westbound on Interstate 10. The van exited the freeway and did not stop for the officer, said DPS.

The van then turned south onto Autoplex Loop and stopped. The driver, Eracleo Martinez-Guzman, 33, and passenger, Clemento Reteria-Lemus, 19, both of Mexico, fled on foot, according to DPS.

DPS officers said the van was left in gear and backed into the patrol car, causing about $500 in damage. Both men were caught by the officer.

Another 19 men were found in van and all were identified as illegal immigrants, according to DPS.

DPS was assisted by Tempe police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Both men were booked into the Maricopa County Jail and the 19 illegal immigrants were turned over to ICE, said DPS officers.

Palm Beach County: Customs detains 14 workers (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Palm Beach County: Customs detains 14 workers

February 25, 2009

A federal officer caught 14 undocumented immigrants digging a ditch at Palm Beach International Airport on Tuesday morning, authorities said.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer noticed that only one worker out of about 20 was wearing an identification badge and went over to inquire, agency spokesman Luis Diaz said.

"He went on to several of the other workers and asked if they had ID," Diaz said. "They said they were illegally here in the U.S."

They were digging a ditch for cables on airport property, Diaz said. Airport spokeswoman Cassandra Davis declined to comment.

The workers will be processed in Riviera Beach and then handed over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents for further investigation and likely deportation, officials said.

Illegal immigrants arrested at Ugandan refugee family's Bellingham engine plant (Seattle Times)

Illegal immigrants arrested at Ugandan refugee family's Bellingham engine plant
Immigration officials on Tuesday arrested 28 illegal immigrants in a raid of an engine-remanufacturing plant owned by immigrants who fled a bloody coup in Uganda nearly 40 years ago.

Originally published Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Seattle Times staff reporter

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers Tuesday raided an engine-remanufacturing plant in Bellingham owned by a family of immigrants who fled violence in Uganda nearly 40 years ago.

They arrested 28 illegal immigrants at Yamato Engine Specialists — more than one-quarter of the company's work force — and immediately began the process to deport them, ICE officials said.

Investigators said the 25 men and three women — most from Mexico — might have gained employment at Yamato using bogus Social Security numbers and other counterfeit ID.

Lori Dankers, spokeswoman for ICE, said all the workers were interviewed and admitted to being in the country illegally, with no authorization to work here.

"In this economy, that's 28 jobs that are being taken away from U.S. citizens or immigrants who are legally in this country," she said.

The early-morning raid shocked the immigrant family that has operated Yamato Engine since 1990. Co-owner Shirin Dhanani Makalai said the owners had been cooperating with ICE since last fall, when investigators began reviewing employee documents and the company owners said they thought they were on a track to correct any problems that surfaced.

What's more, she said, three of the workers arrested Tuesday had been cleared by ICE in a similar review of documents in 2005.

Makalai sees that as proof that even immigration officials can't always identify phony work papers.

"We were totally blindsided by this," she said. "Of course we don't advocate hiring illegal workers."

Yamato specializes in rebuilding Japanese car engines and transmissions, as well as parts supply. And with the economic slowdown, it had been reducing its work force.

"People bring you paperwork that by law you are required to accept. We do our due diligence to make sure it's proper. But you can't always tell, ... " Makalai said.

Three of those arrested Tuesday were released on humanitarian grounds, while the others were being held at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.

Raids can originate from ICE's audits of I-9s, the forms all employees must complete when hired. And ICE sometimes conducts I-9 audits following an informant tip. ICE began looking at Yamato's employment records after officers last year arrested an illegal immigrant with a criminal record who had previously worked there.

Makalai said an audit four years ago helped the company clean up its payroll. But she said ICE never explained how the company could ensure it would continue to hire only legitimate workers.

In 2007, ICE launched a program called ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, or IMAGE, to help employers avoid hiring illegal immigrants.

The Dhananis fled Uganda in 1971 when military dictator Idi Amin Dada led a violent coup and slaughtered hundreds of thousands. They escaped and in 1990 established Yamato Engine.

"We're a family business," Makalai said. "We understand displacement and loss which is why is was so traumatic to see this happen to all these people. ... "

Legal tempest threatens to break up family (Las Vegas Sun)

Legal tempest threatens to break up family

By Timothy Pratt

Wed, Feb 25, 2009 (2 a.m.)

Four years ago, when she was 10, Patricia Sarkisian wrote a letter to President George W. Bush asking why her two older sisters were jailed in Los Angeles, an order of deportation pushing them toward a flight to Moscow any day.

Now she’s no longer “just a kid,” as she signed off that letter, and as of Feb. 2, another family member is in jail, awaiting deportation — her mother, Anoush.

Her sisters, Emma, now 22, and Mariam, a year younger, were saved from that fate in January 2005, by a cinematic, highly unusual last-minute call from Sen. Harry Reid to then-Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. Reid asked Ridge to “put personal attention” on the case, which had caught the attention of the media and the public.

Now the Sarkisian family is again in the news, an unfortunate example of the situation faced by an estimated 2 million families in the United States: Some members of those families are born here, others become citizens over time, some remain in limbo, and still others find no legal recourse; the only thing keeping them from being deported is the inability of the federal government to find them.

With an increased emphasis on enforcement, both in workplaces and in neighborhoods, more of those people — like Anoush Sarkisian — are being found and deported. A consequence is that more of those families are ripped apart.

Federal officials found the 50-year-old through a circuitous route. In May 2007, a car hit hers in the rear. Months later she and the other driver engaged lawyers. In August, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents contacted the defendant in the case and discovered the place and time of Sarkisian’s deposition. On Feb. 2, outside a Rancho Drive law office, several agents ordered Sarkisian out of her car and into handcuffs, in front of Emma, who looked on, stunned. The mother of five, who suffers from diabetes, has been held in the North Las Vegas jail since that day.

To immigration attorney Peter Ashman, in cases like that of the Sarkisians, where a family is involved and the person of interest to the federal government has no criminal history, no national interest is being served by deportation.

“One of the pronounced reasons we have immigration law ... is to unite families,” said Ashman, former head of the local chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “Here we’re achieving the opposite.”

Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the federal government is just enforcing the law.

“This woman has been under a final order of deportation for a decade ... We had been unable to locate her. Now we intend to carry it out.”

For the family, the idea of someone being suddenly detained is nothing new.

In 2005 Emma and Mariam were catapulted in a similar stunning fashion from being teenage hands in their father’s family pizza business at a suburban strip mall to the glare of national media attention.

Their story began years earlier however. Rouben Sarkisian, their father, had come to the United States with Anoush in the early 1990s. They had three daughters together. He divorced Anoush and remarried a U.S. citizen, entering a path to citizenship and, he thought, putting his two older daughters on the same path. Anoush sought political asylum from the U.S. government, being a native Armenian claiming persecution from Russians in the Ukraine. She lost, appealed, the years piled onand when the appeal was denied in 1999, she was ordered deported. She stayed, unwilling to leave her daughters.

Rouben shared the job of raising them. When he took his two eldest daughters to immigration authorities in July 2004 to inquire about their status, the girls were arrested and sent to a cell in Los Angeles.

The idea that teens who had spent most of their lives in the United States could be sent to a country, Armenia, to which they had no connection, and separated from their parents and sisters seemed outrageous to many people.

After several weeks of dramatic back-and-forth, including a federal judge at one point ordering the jail to give the teens access to cell phones to communicate with family, Reid’s call saved them. The federal government exercised its discretion to offer what’s known as humanitarian relief. Four years later the young women still have no legal status, but they’re allowed to stay in this country as long as they check in with local Homeland Security officials on a regular basis.

They both have been attending college and spending more time with family at home, since their father sold his pizzeria and now spends part of the year in the Ukraine on business trips.

Rouben has also finally become a U.S. citizen and petitioned for his older daughters to do the same. But that will take years to complete. So his daughters can’t petition for their mother, and neither can Rouben, because he is no longer married to her.

The eldest of the U.S.-born daughters, Michelle, could petition for Anoush to become a citizen, but only after she turns 21 — in four years.

Meanwhile, Anoush waits in jail, refusing to sign a form that would give the federal government permission to seek travel documents from the Armenian government, a move her attorney says makes no sense because the country didn’t even exist when she left it 20 years ago.

Four of the sisters sat on a dark blue leather couch in their northwest valley home on a recent afternoon, awaiting their mother’s daily calls from jail. Her lawyer, Arsen V. Baziyantis, says he tried to get Anoush to sign a form that would allow her to have visitors, but she refused because she didn’t want her daughters to see her in jail.

Michelle, sitting in the middle, says she misses her mother’s advice and her strictness with teenage girl issues such as boys, and with homework. To her right sits Patricia, the letter writer, silent. Mariam strokes her hair. The 21-year-old says her mother is “kind of like a fortune teller. She knows what you want, when you want it.” Without her at home, “it feels colder.”

On a wall across the living room, a framed certificate names Elizabeth “student of the month” for March 2004. She’s now 16.

She looks up, as if she senses the hour, about 3 p.m. She remembers a daily ritual, tears welling in her dark eyes.

“(My mom) calls me on my cell every day after school. She asks how I am. She calls each of us, one by one, wherever she is. When I heard that she was in jail, I couldn’t believe it. I kept calling her. She didn’t answer. I couldn’t believe she was gone.”

Arrest, detention of Tavares mother fuel debate about treatment of illegal immigrants (Orlando Sentinel)

Arrest, detention of Tavares mother fuel debate about treatment of illegal immigrants

Victor Manuel Ramos | Sentinel Staff Writer
February 25, 2009

An undocumented Honduran immigrant was released from the Lake County jail and handed to federal authorities Tuesday after police arrested her a week ago while responding to a domestic-assault call.

Civil-rights attorneys say the detention violated her rights, and advocates are calling for an end to arrests of immigrants by local police.

Rita Cote, a 23-year-old mother of three U.S.-born children, was held for more than a week before the Lake County Sheriff's Office realized it and notified immigration authorities.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida filed a petition in federal court alleging violations of Cote's constitutional rights. But before the case was heard, the woman was released to Border Patrol agents.

The arrest and subsequent detention have left the family in despair, said Cote's husband, Robert Cote, a 37-year-old U.S. citizen. He said that on the day of the arrest, he got a call at work from their 7-year-old son, Robert Jr., who was crying hysterically because police were taking his mother away. They have two other sons, ages 4 and 2.

"They ripped her away from the children, put her in handcuffs and put her in the SUV and took off," Cote said. "I am lost. If you were to cut me in half and one half of me is gone, that's how I feel."

ACLU attorney Glenn Katon said the group was determining how to proceed legally.

"The underlying issue of the illegality of the arrest and detention are still very relevant," Katon said.

Tavares police officials did not return calls for comment. A spokesman for Lake County Sheriff Gary S. Borders said that, aside from the delay in county jail, the case was a routine arrest and detainment.

"We made a mistake. We failed to notify the authorities that she was ready for pickup, and we will look into how that failure took place," said Sgt. John Herrell of the Sheriff's Office.

"If we come across an illegal immigrant and Border Patrol or immigration enforcement authorizes us to detain her, we do that."

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said that Cote was being held at the Broward Transitional Center as the department prepared to carry out a judge's deportation order.

Meanwhile, immigrant-advocacy groups were incensed about what they say the case exemplifies: a tough enforcement approach that diverts police resources from fighting crime.

Demonstration planned
Several area groups are planning a demonstration Thursday to denounce arrests of immigrants by police in Lake County, a task they say should be left up to federal agents.

"It's shoddy police work," said Susana Barciela, policy director with the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center in Miami. "They ignore the domestic-violence offense and start looking for other infractions that they don't have the authority to pursue."

The incident took place Feb.16 at Cote's Tavares home. Her sister, Sonia Enriquez Perdomo, and sister's boyfriend, Isai Ramirez, lived in a rented room there. Someone called 911, then hung up. According to the court filing, Ramirez had grabbed Enriquez Perdomo by the neck and was choking her after she asked him to leave.

Cote and Enriquez Perdomo said in court affidavits that the two officers from the Tavares Police Department told Enriquez Perdomo that she needed to go to the police station to pursue the domestic-violence case. Then they asked everyone to produce identification.

They took Cote, who had been acting as Enriquez Perdomo's interpreter, to county jail after running her name through an immigration database. She had entered the country illegally when she was 15.

Lawyer: Similar cases
These incidents are not uncommon because the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency stepped up enforcement and started collaborating with police departments, said Gail Seeram, an immigration attorney in west Orlando.

"I have four people in detention right now with similar cases," Seeram said.

A coalition of groups, including Democracia USA, the Farmworkers Association of Florida and the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said Tuesday that they were joining forces to ask Lake County to explain why it is spending its resources pursuing people whose only violation is breaking immigration laws.

"Not only are families being torn apart and people being scared, but people are afraid of contacting the police for things like domestic violence," said Roberto Cancel of Democracia USA in Central Florida.

Monday, February 23, 2009

ICE officials arrest 10 suspected gang members (News 14 Carolina)

ICE officials arrest 10 suspected gang members

Updated 02/19/2009 04:16 PM
By: News 14 Carolina Web Staff

CHARLOTTE -- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 10 suspected gang members Wednesday as part of an ongoing nationwide crackdown. Of the 10 suspects, four also face federal charges, including re-entering the country after they were deported.

ICE officials say the sting targeted members of five street gangs -- MS-13, Surenos, Brown Pride, Sur 13 and the Latin Kings. Experts say MS-13 is currently the most dangerous gang in the United States and the Sur 13 gang is believed to be active in more than 100 communities across the country, including six in North Carolina.

Since the Operation Community Shield program began in February 2005, officials say nearly 12,000 suspected gang members have been arrested in the U.S.

Authorities estimate there are more than 150 gangs with 2,000 active members in Charlotte alone.

A new FBI report says gangs are expanding their reach into more rural and suburban communities. In North Carolina, local authorities and FBI agents are working together on the Safe Streets Gang Task Force.

In Charlotte, FBI officials said the group spearheaded the Hidden Valley Kings roundup in 2007 and last June’s statewide MS-13 gang sweep.

Federal authorities take Marion doctor into custody (Marion Star)

Federal authorities take Marion doctor into custody

Marion Star Staff Report • February 20, 2009

MARION - A local doctor is in the custody of federal authorities after being arrested on a warrant for failure to surrender earlier this month.

Dr. Abiodun Adekene Howells, 53, formerly of Chaumont Drive, was an anesthesiologist at Smith Clinic.

Marion police arrested him on Feb. 1 at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs. A letter to the department indicated there were no criminal charges against him and the warrant for removal/deportation was an administrative immigration matter.

Howells had a valid license to practice in the state of Ohio and a valid work permit, said Smith Clinic Executive Director David Miller. He was included in a listing of staff with his photo on the Marion General Hospital Web site. He was not an employee of MGH, said Susan Loyer, public relations specialist.

Howells resigned in January. He worked at the clinic a little less than two years. Howells was a competent doctor and properly licensed, Miller said.

Records show he first entered the U.S. in 1990.

The Cleveland Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs could not be reached for comment prior to press time.

After immigration arrests, Brazilian community in Allston on alert (Allston-Brighton TAB)

After immigration arrests, Brazilian community in Allston on alert

By Meghann Ackerman/Correspondent
Fri Feb 20, 2009, 08:00 AM EST

Allston, Mass. - Jailton Tavares was about to go to work when a man knocked on his car window, showed him a California driver’s license and asked if he’d seen the man pictured. Tavares said he hadn’t seen him, but the man continued to ask him questions and asked to see Tavares’ ID, which was a Brazilian passport.

“After he asked several questions and he saw my passport, he said, ‘You’re under arrest. I’m from immigration,’” Tavares, 35, said in Portuguese.

Tavares, Wesley de Farias, 22, Elson de Olivira, 36, and a fourth man were all arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Jan. 30 before 6:30 a.m. The men were all leaving for work at construction jobs, they said in an interview translated by Heloisa Galvao, co-founder of the Brazilian Women’s Group. The four men arrested on Jan. 30 have since been released from custody with ankle monitors.

Although they face deportation, Tavares, de Farias and de Olivira are immediately concerned with trying to get a bond and removing their ankle monitors. With them on, their employers won’t give them work and the men cannot provide for their families, hire attorneys or save money for a possible trip back to Brazil.

“With something like this, they think you did something real bad,” said de Farias, who has lived in America for six years. “They think you’re a criminal.”

Although all three men said they hoped to stay in America, they have started making plans for deportation or voluntarily leaving. De Olivira has lived in the United States for seven years and has two American-born children. If he had to leave the country, they will go with him and he’s been trying to get their paperwork in order.

“I don’t think they’ll have a problem in Brazil,” he said. “But I want to stay here. I have two American children and I want to raise them here. It will be harder for them in Brazil.”

Tavares, an American resident for eight years, said it’s “impossible” to move to America legally from Brazil.

“Even as a tourist, it’s hard,” he said.

Although they were arrested in January, each of the three men said they had never been in trouble with the police before.

“I filed income taxes every year. I’ve never been stopped by the police,” de Olivira said. “This is a good country; they don’t come after me.”

On Jan. 23, members of ICE’s Fugitive Operation Unit arrested nine Brazilians in Brighton, said Paula Grenier, an ICE spokesperson. Five of the people arrested had warrants of deportation, meaning a judge had already ordered them deported; two were wanted for re-entering the country after deportation; and two more were found to be in the country illegally, Grenier said. The two people without orders against them were not held in custody, Grenier said.

On Jan. 30, eight Brazilians were arrested in the Brighton area — one on a warrant of deportation; two on charges of illegal re-entry; and five for being in the country illegally, Grenier said.

The recent arrests have made the Allston-Brighton Brazilian community uneasy.

“People are psychologically traumatized because of fear. They don’t want to leave the house,” said de Olivira.

The men said some people had moved out of their Washington Street apartment building or have stopped talking to them out of fear of ICE coming for them next.

Agents conduct “targeted” operations, said Grenier. But, she added, if an agent comes across an undocumented immigrant during an operation, they will arrest them.

Knowing your rights can go a long way in the fight against deportation, said Nancy Kelly and John Willshire-Carrera, lawyers with Great Boston Legal Services.

“They [ICE] can ask anything. They don’t have to give you a warning,” Kelly said. “But, in reality, you’re not required to give testimony against yourself.”

Willshire-Carrera said he advises people who are asked to show an ID to ICE agents to politely refuse.

“Many immigrants come from countries where the police have the right to go up to people and ask for ID,” he said. “I tell people not to lie, not to be nasty about it, but just say no.”

16 Deported After Traffic Stop (The Morning News)

16 Deported After Traffic Stop

Last updated Friday, February 20, 2009 9:01 PM CST in News

SPRINGDALE -- A routine traffic stop Thursday along Interstate 540 led to the arrest of 16 undocumented immigrants from Mexico looking for employment.

At 6 p.m., a Springdale officer saw several people inside the Ford Excursion during the traffic stop. The officer recognized the driver, Ivan Soto Trejo, 20, as being previously deported in November 2008, according to a Springdale police news release.

All 16 people were taken into custody by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Police would not say were on I-540 the traffic stop took place or if the group was headed to this area or just passing through.

Judge blocks man's deportation, citing his mistreatment after arrest (Daily News)

Judge blocks man's deportation, citing his mistreatment after arrest

By Brandon Lowrey, Staff Writer
Updated: 02/21/2009 01:07:03 AM PST

A federal judge has ruled that an undocumented worker was mistreated during his arrest by immigration agents, so he cannot be deported - a ruling that attorneys say may extend to dozens of other illegal immigrants arrested in the same raid.

Gregorio Perez Cruz, 24, was among 138 people arrested during a raid on Micro Solutions Enterprises in Van Nuys on Feb. 7, 2008. He and more than 100 other suspects complained they were mistreated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, and about 40 have challenged their deportation orders.

While the 19-page ruling allows only Perez Cruz to remain in the U.S., his attorney said it sets a precedent for the others arrested in the same raid.

"The implication of the decision is that many of the people, probably everyone arrested in the Van Nuys raid, will have their case dismissed," said attorney Ahilan Arulananthm, who is director of immigrants rights and national security for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Valerie Kice, a spokeswoman for ICE, said the agency will appeal the decision.

ICE officials also have denied allegations that they acted improperly when they raided the printer-cartridge company and demanded proof that employees were authorized to work in the United States.

But the ruling issued Feb. 12 by U.S. Immigration Judge A. Ashley Tabaddor includes allegations by Perez Cruz that his civil rights were violated during his incarceration.

"(Perez Cruz) states he was held in a cold concrete cell overnight and forced to sleep on the concrete flooring," the ruling said. "He was also deprived of food and drinking water for approximately 18 hours.

"Under these conditions, ICE agents questioned (him) without informing him of the reasons for his arrest or that his statements could be used against him in removal proceedings."

Tabaddor, who is a former attorney with the Office of Immigration Litigation at the Department of Justice, ruled ICE agents violated Perez Cruz's rights and the agency's own policy by detaining him without having prior evidence that he was in the country illegally.

She also ruled ICE could not use Perez Cruz's responses or his Mexican birth certificate against him, because the evidence was obtained from an illegal investigation.

Kice declined to discuss specifics of the evidence but said other civil cases have been filed as a result of the Van Nuys raid.

Workplace raids may have had a role in reducing illegal immigration, according to "Homeward Bound," a report published last July by the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.

Through May 2008, the number of illegal immigrants in the country declined by 1.3 million people compared with the peak during the previous summer. The center estimates the current illegal population at 11.2 million.

Perez Cruz said he hopes to move forward now, but sought to encourage some of the other workers who are still fighting to remain in the country.

"I was mistreated. Everybody there was mistreated," Perez Cruz said through a translator. "Like criminals. Like animals. They treated us unjustly."

He said he's now having a tough time finding work in the rough economy to support his wife and 6-month-old child.

"I'm hoping that not only it will help the others here in Van Nuys," Perez Cruz said, "but it will have a national impact."

Wanted man arrested after police stop him for traffic violations (Myrtle Beach Sun-News)

Wanted man arrested after police stop him for traffic violations

Monday, Feb. 23, 2009
Tonya Root -

Myrtle Beach police arrested a 37-year-old man on traffic violations and learned he was wanted as a fugitive by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a police report.

Efrain Nataren-Cruz of 266 Ivy Stone Lane, Myrtle Beach, was stopped by police just before 9 p.m. Friday on U.S. 17 Bypass near Farrow Parkway, police said. He was arrested for driving under suspension, failure to use due care and no proof of insurance.

After arrested him, police learned Cruz was wanted on an immigration detainer, according to the report.

Island drug raids lead to eight being charged with illegal immigration (Island Packet)

Island drug raids lead to eight being charged with illegal immigration

From Staff Reports
Published Monday, February 23, 2009

Eight people suspected of being illegal immigrants were arrested after drug raids early this morning after search warrants were executed on Hilton Head Island.

The searches took place at 5 a.m. at a home in Rollers Mobile Home Park off Marshland Road and at a home on Spanish Wells Road. They were conducted by members of the Beaufort/Jasper Multi Agency Drug Task Force, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement team.

According to a sheriff’s news release today, the homes were used to distribute illegal drugs. Officers found 40 grams of cocaine, drug paraphernalia and forged documents, the release.

Over the last several months, the drug task force had purchased cocaine from Jorge Ortiz Leyva and Gonzalo Luna Crisante, who were living at these homes, according to the release.

The following people were charged:

• Jorge Ortiz-Leyva, 20, of Marshland Road, sale and distribution of cocaine, trafficking cocaine and illegal immigration.

• Mateo Perez-Gomez, 52, of Marshland Road, forgery and illegal immigration.

• Juan Lopez-Valente, 30, of Marshland Road, illegal immigration.

• Gonzalo Luna-Ortiz, 50, Spanish Wells Road, forgery, trafficking cocaine, sale and distribution of cocaine, illegal immigration.

• Mario Montano Ortiz, 23, Spanish Wells Road, possession of cocaine, forgery, illegal immigration.

• Alberto Montano Ortiz, 28, Spanish Wells Road, forgery, illegal immigration.

• Ana Lilia Montano-Ortiz, 21, Spanish Wells Road, forgery, illegal immigration.

• Jose Lopez-Valente, 38, Spanish Wells Road, forgery, illegal immigration.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Illegal immigrant leads officer on chase (Hendersonville Times-News)

Illegal immigrant leads officer on chase

By Mark Schulman
Times-News Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 4:30 a.m.

An illegal immigrant wanted for deportation led a Hendersonville police officer on a chase at speeds reaching more than 135 mph Tuesday night before wrecking his vehicle. Police also found several pounds of marijuana in the car.

The suspect, Luis Zapata-Lara, 23, was charged with felony possession of marijuana, fleeing to elude arrest, reckless driving to endanger and at least six other charges and violations by the Hendersonville Police Department.

The pursuit began after Sgt. Brandon McGaha saw a silver Ford Mustang with an illegitimate license plate leaving the Triangle Stop on Upward Road at about 11:39 p.m.

McGaha followed the vehicle onto I-26 westbound and stopped Zapata-Lara, who then sped off with McGaha in pursuit, reaching speeds exceeding 135 mph.

The suspect tossed two packages out of the window. One was destroyed by a tractor-trailer, but the other was recovered by the N.C. Highway Patrol.

The driver of the Mustang took the U.S. 64 East ramp toward Bat Cave, ran through intersections along U.S. 64 and ran through a red light going about 105 mph, McGaha said.

The suspect then lost control and spun out about six times before regaining control of the vehicle, cutting through a yard. He gunned it once again back onto U.S. 64, then ran through the backyards of two abandoned homes on Thompson Road near Fruitland Road.

The chase ended after the suspect crashed the sports car in a thicket beside a vacant house.

No one was injured. Zapata-Lara surrendered after the wreck.

The suspect is an illegal immigrant with two prior deportation violations. The Sheriff’s Office also has record of an immigration violation.

Other charges stemming from Tuesday night’s chase were possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, felony maintaining a vehicle with purpose of having a controlled substance, two counts of speeding at 135 mph in a 65 mph zone, one count of speeding at 105 mph in a 35 mph zone, resisting arrest and one red light violation.

Zapata-Lara is being held in the Henderson County Detention Center under $26,000 bond.

Henderson County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the chase and the N.C. State Highway Patrol assisted in recovering the drugs.

Sacred worship, duty to law pitted (Houston Chronicle)

Sacred worship, duty to law pitted
ICE agent removes man, 31, during church service

Houston Chronicle
Feb. 18, 2009, 10:43PM

On a Sunday morning, in a church sanctuary near Conroe, an off-duty immigration agent tapped Jose Juan Hernandez on the shoulder and asked him to step outside.

A 31-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico with three prior deportations, Hernandez quietly followed the agent and promptly was detained on suspicion of illegal re-entry after deportation, said Gregory Palmore, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman in Houston.

The case would be unremarkable, except for the setting. The fact that Hernandez was detained in church has sparked controversy locally. Hernandez was arrested Oct. 26, pleaded guilty to the re-entry charge this month and is scheduled for sentencing in April. He remains in federal detention in Conroe. Hernandez’s attorney, Rick Soliz, said he plans to file a complaint against the ICE agent in connection with the arrest.

“I wonder what the agent was thinking, if he was thinking at all,” Soliz said. “How do you decide to do that in the middle of a religious service?”

ICE has demonstrated a long-standing reluctance to detain suspected illegal immigrants at churches and schools. The agency waited more than a year before arresting Elvira Arellano, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who publicly took sanctuary in a West Chicago church to avoid being deported and separated from her U.S.-born son. She was picked up after she left the church and traveled to Los Angeles in 2007 to launch a national campaign for immigration reform.

Palmore confirmed that Hernandez was arrested at the church in October, calling it an “unusual circumstance.” But he defended the agent’s actions as fulfilling his “sworn duty to enforce the nation’s laws.”

He said the agency has guidelines related to arrests “in sensitive community locations.” Palmore said those guidelines are internal and cannot be made public, but they allow agents to make arrests at churches in specific circumstances.

No record of violence

Hernandez is expected to be deported after he serves his sentence. According to court records, he was convicted of a felony drug charge in Montgomery County and deported in 2000. He was deported again in 2001.

Hernandez was convicted in Montgomery County for DWI in January 2004. In October of that year, he was convicted of driving without a valid license. He was deported for a third time in 2004, according to ICE records.

Palmore said the ICE agent took part in one of Hernandez’s earlier arrests and recognized him at the church.

Soliz said his client had never been convicted of a violent crime and had no outstanding warrants at the time of his arrest. Although the agent had legal grounds to make the arrest in the church, Soliz said, doing so appeared to go against ICE’s general practice, specifically citing the Arellano case.

“It’s unbelievable to me that an agent can be so ignorant,” Soliz said. “Just a short time ago, his superiors at the highest levels purposely waited a year for a woman to come out of a church, yet this renegade with a gun and a badge decides in the middle of a religious service to make an arrest.”

‘They have no respect’

The arrested man’s mother, 51-year-old Ana Maria Hernandez, said she was particularly upset to learn that her son, who has been in the U.S. illegally since age 6, was detained in a church.

“A church is a sacred place,” she said. “They have no respect, not even for that.”

Hernandez regularly attended Conroe First Assembly church, but was at a different church in Montgomery with a friend when arrested.

Michael Moak, a pastor at the church where Hernandez regularly attended, said word of the arrest upset some members of his congregation.

“I think it was distasteful, the way it was done,” he said.

Moak suggested ICE could have arrested Hernandez at his job or home, and “could have been a little more professional,” instead of singling him out at church.

Curtis Collier, president of the U.S. Border Watch group based in Spring, which advocates stricter border controls, said it “might have been a little more prudent” to wait until after the service.

But without knowing all the details, Collier said, “I have to go with the agent’s judgment.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Man with group near border drainage ditch arrested on suspicion of smuggling (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Man with group near border drainage ditch arrested on suspicion of smuggling

5:46 p.m. February 17, 2009

SAN YSIDRO – Border Patrol agents announced Tuesday the arrest of a 50-year-old man on suspicion of smuggling after finding him and four other illegal immigrants near a drainage ditch along the international border.

The group was spotted about 5 a.m. Monday near the International Wastewater Treatment Plant on Dairy Mart Road. The group jumped the border fence and the alleged smuggler led them down a 30-foot storm drain and then through a drainage tube to enter the United States, agents said. The drainage system was partially filled with water from recent rains.

A 28-year-old Mexican who injured his ankle jumping into the storm drain was left behind, agents said.

The group of illegal immigrants will likely be deported, while the suspected smuggler is in federal custody and faces criminal charges.

Southampton Village Police reports (The Southampton Press)

Southampton Village Police reports [5th item]
Publication: The Southampton Press
Feb 18, 09 11:05 AM

Luis H. Sinchi-Valladarez, 34, of Mastic Beach was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree, a misdemeanor, at around 4 p.m. last Thursday, February 12. Police said a computer check revealed that his license had been suspended three times since 2008. Also, there was a warrant out on him from Immigration and Custom Enforcement, Village Police said. His car was impounded and he was turned over to ICE officials.

Study: Immigration program leads to profiling (WRAL-Raleigh, NC)

Study: Immigration program leads to profiling

Posted: 2/18/09 at 10:52 a.m.

Chapel Hill, N.C. — The federal program that allows local law enforcement to identify illegal immigrants charged with crimes has created a climate of racial profiling, according to a report released Wednesday by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law.

The 287(g) immigration program, administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, gives local law enforcement agencies access to federal immigration databases so they can identify illegal immigrants they have arrested on local charges.

Wake, Cumberland, Alamance and five other counties already participate in the program, and last year, more than 3,000 illegal immigrants were deported from North Carolina.

In Wake County, more than 1,000 people have been identified through the program, which started last July, Sheriff Donnie Harrison has said.

Orange County is one of several that recently joined a separate ICE program called Secure Communities that doesn't include the deportation training portion of 287(g).

According to the 152-page report, one of the "unexpected and problematic outcomes" of the program is reluctance among illegal immigrants to contact police if they are witnesses to or victims of crime because of the risk of being jailed or deported.

"We found serious erosion of community trust, as well as legal concerns," said Deborah Weissman, director of clinical programs at UNC's School of Law.

There are also concerns that law enforcement officers are targeting people who appear Hispanic for minor traffic offenses, the report states.

When it passed in 1996, the 286(g) program was designed to target terrorists and violent criminals. Based on the UNC study, the program is not being used for its intended purpose.

"The overwhelming number of individuals arrested pursuant to 287(g) and removed pursuant to this program have been arrested for traffic offenses, often driving without a driver's license," Weissman said.

The study, in part, is a result of concerns by the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"North Carolina has become a national testing ground for programs between ICE and local officers," said Rebecca Headen, an attorney with the ACLU's Racial Justice Project. "This report shows North Carolina and the nation the pitfalls of those programs."

Separate raids net 10 suspected illegal immigrants (Island Packet)

Separate raids net 10 suspected illegal immigrants

By Josh Lanier
Published Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ten suspected illegal immigrants, two of whom were charged with trafficking cocaine, were arrested Friday in greater Bluffton in two separate drug raids, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office news release issued Tuesday.

Julio Villatoro-Romero, 30, of Pin Oak Street and Alejandro Villeda, 29, of Able Street were charged with trafficking cocaine after the Beaufort/Jasper Multi-Agency Drug Task Force raided the home on Pin Oak Street, the release said.

Romero, Villeda and four others in the home also were charged with being illegally in the country, the release said.

Both Romero and Villeda are being held at the Beaufort County Detention Center, each on a $50,000 bond. All six have been placed on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold to eventually determine whether they should be deported, the jail log said.

An apartment at Bluffton House Apartments, 20 Simmonsville Road, also was raided Friday by the task force. Four more suspects were charged with being illegal immigrants, the release said. One of the men was charged with simple possession of cocaine. All are being held at the detention center on an Immigrant Customs Enforcement hold, the jail log said.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mom worries as woman faces deportation (Omaha World-Herald)

Mom worries as woman faces deportation

Published Tuesday February 17, 2009

WEST POINT, Neb. - Annemarie Burger readily admits it: her little girl has been no angel.

Now 37, daughter Tanja Nez has six children raised mostly by others. She was a meth addict. Lived on the streets.

A district court judge recently gave her probation for distributing drugs.

But Nez's mother can't grasp the bigger consequence that offense carries under immigration law: deportation to Germany.

It's a land, Burger said, that Nez hasn't seen since age 3, when she came to the United States legally with Burger, who had married a U.S. soldier.

A land where Nez does not know the language.

"That's like sending me to Mexico and dropping me off," said Burger, who has lived in this Nebraska town since 1974.

While rife with emotion and a moral dilemma, federal immigration law is clear in this case, said Timothy Counts, spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Nez was convicted of an aggravated felony, automatic grounds for deportation.

The case underscores what can happen when a legal permanent resident - despite being eligible for years - does not become a citizen before she becomes a felon.

The case also highlights the dilemma of an immigrant parent: Go with the U.S.-raised child to ease her into the country from which you took her - or stay for grandkids and great-grandbabies?

Burger would rather see her daughter put away in an American prison than risk her slipping back to the world of drugs in a place she
doesn't know.

"Everybody makes mistakes," Burger said. "She tries to make it better. It's not like she killed someone."

An immigration judge is set to hear Nez's case Wednesday and could grant an exception, but that is rare. She must show evidence that her deportation would cause extreme and unusual hardship to a U.S. citizen.

"Our belief is that she has no legal right to be here," Counts said.

In an interview from a Grand Island jail, Nez said her mom, who became a citizen 12 years ago, is as scared as Nez is about the future.

"She just sent me a German translation book," Nez said.

Burger offered to accompany her daughter, but Nez told her to stay for Nez's six children and two grandchildren.

Except for a short relapse, Nez said that she had been clean of drugs and alcohol for more than a year when immigration agents arrested her three days before Christmas.

She had met her boyfriend, Monte Stobbe, at a rehabilitation center in Hastings, and the two began a journey to turn their lives around. Before that, she admits, she was a drug addict for 12 years.

The offense that launched Nez into deportation proceedings happened in the summer of 2007.

Hall County public defender Gerry Piccolo said Nez helped a friend buy meth. The amount was about 3 grams, enough for about one hit, Piccolo said. Under state law, that is distribution.

Nez pleaded no contest, and a Hall County District Court judge sentenced her in October to four years probation.

Nez was fulfilling her probation requirements and re-establishing a relationship with her children, ages 17 to 11.

"I just started to get back in their lives the way a mother should be - clean and sober," she said.

Nez had a line on a job at a fast-food restaurant but first needed a copy of residency paperwork she said was stolen years earlier.

She went to the Lexington immigration office and was told the documents would come. Two weeks later, on Dec. 22, immigration agents detained her.

Until she turned 18 and received a letter from the federal government about getting a green card, she never considered herself anything but American.

Nez's mother helped Nez obtain her "alien number" when she became of legal age.

Nez didn't take the next step of becoming a U.S. citizen. She was intimidated by the citizenship exam and, later, cared more about drugs.

"I didn't feel German," she said. "I've been here all my life."

Her biological father was a U.S. soldier who didn't stick around. Nez could have derived citizenship from her U.S. dad had he established paternity before she turned 18, said Marilu Cabrera, a Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman.

A different military man who Burger later met and married brought toddler Tanja and her mother to the United States. Had her mom become a citizen before Nez turned 18, the daughter would have derived citizenship.

But Burger also was intimidated, and she waited until she was age 50 and eligible to take the civics portion of the exam in her native language.

Nez, short a few credits to graduate with her senior class, dropped out of high school, got her GED and married the first of three husbands.

She had three children, left that man and had three more children who live with her second husband in the Grand Island area.

Meanwhile, Burger raised the three oldest grandchildren from the time all were under age four until her husband died two years ago. Two great-grandchildren and their teen-age mother now live with her.

She and Nez didn't talk for years as Nez spiraled into drugs. They reconnected as the daughter rehabilitated.

Since the December arrest, Burger has lost 20 pounds and can't sleep well.

"I am 63 years old," Burger said. "I can't take anymore."

The mother thinks she helped deliver the daughter to federal agents by pressuring her daughter to get copies of her immigration papers so Nez could get a job and help the household.

Burger wonders whether she could have done more as a mother. She thinks Nez could lead a constructive life if offered another chance, even with a U.S. prison sentence.

Burger and Stobbe said immigration experts told them that fighting Nez's drug conviction would be tough and costly. Nez will represent herself, as immigration court does not appoint public defenders.

Burger keeps looking for ways to keep her daughter near.

"She's made a lot of mistakes," Burger said. "But she's still my daughter. I love her. I can't throw in the towel."

16 immigrants found inside small business (Arizona Republic)

16 immigrants found inside small business

by Megan Boehnke - Feb. 17, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Authorities rescued 16 immigrants who were being held against their will inside a rundown warehouse at a small woodworking business in Phoenix, where three workers were making cabinets as police arrived Monday morning.

Officers are accustomed to responding to drophouses, but it is unusual to find smuggling victims inside a business, said Harold Sanders, a spokesman with the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

He pointed to the employees and customers who might witness the crimes in a business setting. But he added that he was not surprised. "These guys are creative," Sanders said. "The challenge is uncovering it."

Police arrived around 9:30 a.m. and arrested three suspects whose connections to the business are unclear. The three workers also were apprehended, but later released after investigators determined they had no role in the smuggling scheme.

Investigators believe the three suspects were holding the illegal immigrants against their will, threatening them physically and demanding about $2,800 from each of them, Sanders said.

The victims, two women, 13 men and one teenage boy believed to be about 15 or 16, were held in office space inside the workshop, where they were allowed to make phone calls to relatives soliciting ransom money while the suspects watched.

One victim told police he thought he had been held inside the business for 10 to 12 days.

Sanders did not know their country of origin, but said they appeared to have arrived in separate groups and paid about $1,600 each to reach the drop point in Phoenix.

Police turned the victims over to Immigration Customs Enforcement.

Phoenix police received the tip Monday morning and went to Espana Custom Cabinets, at 3536 W. Osborn Road, just west of 35th Avenue, to investigate. They knocked on the door and announced their presence when they heard suspects trying to move through the wall into an adjacent business, Sanders said.

Police quickly apprehended one suspect and two others were chased down by police K-9s and then transported to the hospital to be treated for the animal bites, Sanders said.

Detectives from the Illegal Immigration Prevention and Co-op Team, made up of officers from DPS, ICE and Phoenix police, are investigating the business and are trying to contact the owner, who was not on site Monday morning. It's unclear whether the business owner or managers had knowledge of the scheme.

The suspects face human smuggling, kidnapping and extortion charges, though more felonies could be added, Sanders said.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Thirty-thousand Haitians ordered to leave United States (USA Today)

Thirty-thousand Haitians ordered to leave United States

Posted 2/16/09

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (AP) — U.S. immigration authorities say they've ordered 30,000 Haitians to leave the country.

Haitian officials, however, say they're not issuing the travel documents needed to process most deportees.

Handfuls of deportees with valid passports have been returned to Haiti since Dec. 5, following a three-month break in deportations, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. But Haitian officials say the storm-batted Caribbean country needs time to recover and can't handle the return of its citizens.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says the lack of travel documents means some deportees are spending more time in crowded detention centers. According to ICE, about 600 Haitians are being detained and more than 240 others are under a form of house arrest and being monitored with electronic ankle bracelets.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

CBP officers uncover 116 immigration violations this week (KVIA-El Paso, TX)

CBP officers uncover 116 immigration violations this week

Posted: Feb 13, 2009 05:43 PM
Updated: Feb 13, 2009 05:43 PM

CBP officers stop more than 100 illegal immigration attempts

EL PASO -- Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers made 116 immigration related arrests this week, according to officials with the agency.

Officials said 116 immigration violations were discovered and many involved people who had been previously deported from the U.S. Monday, officers at the Paso Del Norte Bridge Downtown arrested 30-year-old Mexican resident who presented a counterfeit document at the port.

Officials said the man was previously deported following a domestic violence charge in Ohio and a DUI arrest in Minnesota. He was booked into the El Paso County Detention Facility and charged with Re-entry After Deportation.

Tuesday, officers working the international rail crossing in downtown El Paso Tuesday removed an undocumented man from a northbound train. Officers spotted the 44-year-old Mexican man using a gamma ray inspection system. The man was also charged with Re-entry After Deportation.

During the week, CBP officers nabbed 59 "intended" immigrants. In these cases, officials said, individuals will use a legally issued border-crossing card (laser visa) to live or work in the U.S. All suspects lose their documents and are returned immediately to Mexico.

CBP officers also stopped 39 "imposters" after thorough document examinations, officials said. Imposters will use a legitimate entry document assigned to another person and present it as their own, officials said. Violators lose the documents and are returned to Mexico.

Area CBP officers also identified 18 people who made false claims to U.S. citizenship, attempted to enter with counterfeit or altered documents, and those attempting to enter without inspection.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Young immigrant among thousands of federal detainees in Tacoma (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Young immigrant among thousands of federal detainees in Tacoma

Last updated February 12, 2009 6:41 p.m. PT


NORTHWEST DETENTION CENTER, Tacoma -- Arms poking stiffly from an oversized blue jumpsuit, Vitaliy Budimir recounted his crimes in a hesitant voice that barely revealed his Russian origins.

Charges of cocaine possession and delivery bought him a year and a day of incarceration at Airway Heights federal prison outside of Spokane. His immigration status then brought the 22-year-old permanent resident to the Northwest Detention Center, a low, gray building that sprawls across Tacoma's industrial Tideflats -- where he is awaiting deportation to Barnaul, Siberia, a city he hasn't seen since he was 10.

"I went to elementary through high school here," says Budimir whose mother became a citizen when he was 19.

"I could have probably got my citizenship a long time ago, but I never thought I'd end up in this situation."

He is not alone. Since 2004, tens of thousands of suspected immigration law violators have waited for an immigration judge to determine their fate within the white cinder block walls of the detention center.

Their ranks include illegal immigrants, asylum seekers, documented workers with lapsed status and legal immigrants -- like Budimir -- who were convicted of certain criminal offenses.

"Nationwide there is a trend to have increased detention space," says Lorie Dankers, regional spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency responsible for enforcing immigration law.

"When you let people go, oftentimes they don't show back up," says Dankers, explaining the move to incarcerate people who might previously have been released while their cases were reviewed.

Shifts in national attitudes toward immigration in the wake of 9/11 prompted the replacement of the Immigration and Naturalization Service with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, and the dramatic expansion of its budget and mandate.

In 2003, the National Fugitive Operations Program, led by ICE, was formed to locate and remove "dangerous fugitive aliens." The new emphasis on apprehensions, arrests and deportations also created the need for new detention centers. According to ICE, deportations in the Pacific Northwest have increased by 35 percent in the past year alone.

In 2004, ICE awarded GEO Group Inc. -- a private corporation, self-described as the "world leader in the privatized development and/or management of correctional facilities" -- a multiyear contract to build and run a 1,000 bed immigration detention center in the Tideflats below Tacoma's downtown museum district.

Detention centers have their critics, and allegations of abuse of immigrant detainees from Texas to Rhode Island have been making headlines in the past year.

A report by Seattle University's School of Law International Human Rights Clinic, released last summer, accused the NWDC of mistreatment that ranged from improper nutrition to overcrowding.

Dankers rejects the report, criticizing its use of anonymous sourcing and citing regular inspections and the NWDC's consistent high marks for compliance with the American Correctional Association standards for detainee treatment.

"Nobody likes detention," says Neil Clark, who oversees ICE's detention and removal operations for Washington, Oregon and Alaska. "They could be held at the Hilton and they'd still find something to complain about."

Immigration advocates take issue with the system of detention itself. A common complaint is that, because immigration violations are civil, not criminal, offenses, detainees do not have the right, under federal law, to a public defender.

"Immigration law is a very complicated field of law," says Jorge Barón, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, an organization that runs legal orientations for NWDC detainees. "We are asking individuals, many of whom have limited or no English proficiency and limited formal education, to navigate the immigration laws and regulations on their own."

According to 2007 statistics from the Executive Office for Immigration Review, a federal agency within the Department of Justice, 89.5 percent of detainees at the NWDC do not have legal representation.

Detention of noncriminals presents another controversy. A report released last week by The Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, D.C., found that almost three-quarters of the individuals apprehended by ICE's Fugitive Operations Program were considered noncriminals. ICE statistics show that the proportion of those deported from the Pacific Northwest who had no criminal convictions has similarly risen to above 70 percent in recent years.

These statistics are demonstrated inside the walls of the NWDC, where the majority of inmates are dressed in the blue jumpsuits assigned to inmates that are not considered a security threat, as opposed to orange or red jumpsuits for those considered potentially violent.

"Immigration violations are not criminal offenses, so the presumption should be against detaining someone unless the government can demonstrate a compelling reason to do so," says Barón. "Detention has a severe impact on the individuals involved: Families are split up suddenly, children are taken away from parents and individuals are less likely to have the tools or the wherewithal to contest deportation when the law provides them with an avenue to do so."

Incarceration at the NWDC is typically short -- an average 37 days -- though stays can extend far beyond that if detainees refuse to comply with deportation orders by continuing to appeal their case.

Budimir, for one, has given up on the appeal process. He now clings to the hope that the Russian government might refuse to furnish the travel documents necessary to deport him on the grounds that having come to the U.S. at such a young age, there is very little to tie him to that country.

If ICE cannot obtain the proper travel documents by June 12 (180 days after Budimir submitted to deportation), they will be required, by law, to release him. But his legal status will permanently remain "deported," and the order for his physical removal from the U.S., pending action by the Russian government, will remain for the rest of his life.

"I don't think this is fair. I'm in trouble for the first time, and I don't qualify for anything," says Budimir, the static of walkie-talkies and the slamming of heavy doors punctuated his frustration. "I'm definitely more American than Russian."

Because Budimir's criminal sentence was more than a year in prison he automatically qualified for deportation under rules imposed during the Clinton administration.

"If a person is not a U.S. citizen, either born or naturalized, there's always a possibility that they can be removed from the country," says Dankers in response to the suggestion that many immigrants, especially those brought here as children, may not be aware of the laws that could result in their deportation. "And, you know it is unfortunate in his case, but it is the law, and we have to uphold the law fairly."

It looks as though ICE's determination to uphold those laws in the Puget Sound region continues to grow -- the agency plans to expand its detention capacity in the Seattle area to 1,575 beds by October. ICE's current pre-solicitation for the construction implies competition for the job, but GEO Group's confidence that it will win the contract is emphasized by the bright yellow bulldozers and massive spiral drill rigs that have recently appeared in a fenced off area in front of the detention center.

Tacoma's Bill of Rights Defense Committee, a citizens group founded following the spurt of security laws after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is concerned about the expansion project's possible disruption of pollutants and has filed an appeal with the city of Tacoma to try to halt construction at the site. The land beneath the detention center was previously cleaned of petroleum-contaminated soils, but there are concerns that groundwater in the area may still be tainted.

The Department of Ecology -- the agency responsible for overseeing environmental issues on the land beneath the center-- said that no toxins have been detected.

"So far we haven't found any contamination of the groundwater and we've found that contaminated soils are being handled properly," says Joyce Mercuri, Department of Ecology site manager. "Our goal is to not let pollution be released into the environment."

GEO Group declined to comment for this story, responding only that its detention facility complies with contractual requirements and detention standards set by ICE and the ACA.

While Budimir maintained a tough-guy bravado while talking about his time in prison and the details of his case, at the mention of his family -- his parents and six siblings all live in Spokane -- it all disappears.

"I grew up here, this is home for me, all of my family is here, my girlfriend is here," Budimir said, stuttering over the words as he tried to choke back his emotions.

Attempting to talk again, he laced his fingers through his overgrown blond buzz cut and muttered encouragement to himself.

"It's just that everything that matters to me is here."

Two illegal aliens arrested (Marshfield Mail)

Two illegal aliens arrested

By Mark Lile
Friday, February 13, 2009 9:21 AM CST

Two illlegal aliens were taken into custody early Thursday morning, Feb. 12, in Marshfield.

Michael Spinella, resident agent in charge with the Springfield office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said the agency had received information about a couple of potential illegal immigrants living in Marshfield.

An agent reportedly approached a pair of Latino men walking in the area of Banning Street Thursday morning. When confronted by the agent, Spinella said the two men ran into El Charro restaurant, located just off Spur Drive on Banning Street, and locked themselves in the building.

Spinella said the men apparently were employees at the restaurant.

After getting permission from the building owner, ICE agents were able to get inside and take the two men into custody.

As of mid-day Thursday, the two men were being processed by immigration officials in Springfield. Information on their nationality was not yet available.

Spinella said the pair could go before an immigration judge in Kansas City, if they are ordered to be deported and choose to contest the order.

The Springfield ICE office covers 24 southwest Missouri counties from West Plains to the Missouri-Kansas border.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Clinton men arrested on immigration charges (Radio Iowa)

Clinton men arrested on immigration charges

Thursday, February 12, 2009, 9:31 AM
by Dave Vickers, KROS, Clinton

Two Clinton men have been arrested on allegations they violated their immigration status. The complaints, filed Wednesday, are based on the investigation led by the F-B-I and several other federal agencies and Clinton police. The cases are being heard in the U.S. District Court for Southern Iowa.

The documents state the evidence was gathered over a five-year term utilizing various investigative tools, such as subpoenas, mail covers, surveillance, source development and interviews to gain information relating to money laundering, alien smuggling, immigration and visa fraud, bank and tax fraud.

In one case, Vineet Maheshwari is accused of "fraud and misuse of immigration documents." The paper trail cited in the court affidavits date to 1996. Fazal Mehmood, also known as Fazal Awan, is accused of the misuse of a social security number and other immigration violations. Both suspects work for computer firms in Clinton. Both have hearings on February 13th and are being detained until that time.

SDSU students caught by ICE (Daily Aztec)

SDSU students caught by ICE
Students demand immigration reform after two sisters were apprehended by ICE officer

Kristina Blake, Senior Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, February 12, 2009

Several weeks ago, two San Diego State students were apprehended by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and were held at Otay Mesa detention center awaiting deportation. According to the San Diego ICE Public Affairs Officer, the students are no longer in custody and were released about two weeks ago. The PAO would not further discuss the students’ cases.

Aluisa and Ledia Zace are sisters who came to the U.S. when they were 8 and 9 years old, seeking political asylum from their native country of Albania.

According to the Office of the Registrar, Ledia is currently a matriculated admitted student at SDSU and is enrolled in classes for the spring semester, while Aluisa is taking SDSU courses through Open University.

SDSU Registrar Rayanne Williams said that the university has not contacted immigration officials and is not involved in the case.

Chicana and Chicano studies lecturer Rodolfo Jacobo said that the issue of immigration and immigration reform needs to be addressed.

“The university needs to educate faculty and students on the issues,” Jacobo said. “I think that the debate is important to have, especially at the university.”

Jacobo has constructed conceptual theoretical framework to study how undocumented students negotiate every aspect of their lives. He said that although there is no way to know a definite number, of the approximately two million undocumented children in the United States, an estimated 65,000 graduate from high school every year and 50,000 go on to attend U.S. colleges and universities.

The Supreme Court’s 1982 decision, Plyler v. Doe, established that under the 14th Amendment, undocumented children are entitled to K-12 education.

“But it never addresses what happens after K-12,” Jacobo said. “There’s no discussion about that.”

Like the Zace sisters, many undocumented students continue to higher education and do not receive public financial assistance. Under California’s Assembly Bill 540, they do, however, get to pay in-state tuition.

Still, Chicana and Chicano Studies professor Isidro Ortiz said that most undocumented students struggle financially and continue to struggle after they graduate because they can’t find employment.

Nevertheless, they continue their education to earn a degree.

“We know they’re here in our classes,” Ortiz said. “They’re all throughout California, and in fact, all throughout the United States.”

The Zace sisters are not the only undocumented students to have attended SDSU.
Marco Castillo graduated from SDSU a few years ago and became well-known when he was offered symbolic sanctuary, when a group gives shelter to undocumented workers, by an interfaith group in San Diego.

Like Castillo, the Zace sisters have been offered sanctuary, too.

Ortiz said that immigration officials usually respect shelter locations and pick up undocumented workers in workplaces and neighborhoods. So, as long as they stay in the sheltered space, they are usually safe.

“Even if they receive sanctuary, they’re still vulnerable to be picked up,” Ortiz said. “But college campuses aren’t safe spaces in that sense.”

Like Jacobo, Ortiz believes that the university needs to “educate about societal issues.”

“They had little to say about being in the situation they’re in,” Ortiz said. “So they try to live their lives within the constraints impaired on them by law.”

At 4 p.m. today in Montezuma Hall, there will be a lecture on the struggles of undocumented students to receive a higher education. Students from SDSU and UCLA will share their experiences.

Sociology graduate student Arthur Reed is helping to coordinate the event.
“One of the main reasons why students should come is that we need dialogue about this issue,” Reed said.

In addition to today’s event, the immigration debate lives on. U.S. Representative Bob Filner has introduced a bill for the relief of Aluisa and Ledia Zace.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

**Updated** Suspected illegal immigrants arrested in raid (KTAR-AZ)

60 arrested in immigration raid
Deputies pursued Phoenix business after tip

by Maria Polletta and JJ Hensley - Feb. 12, 2009 12:00 AM

Deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office carried out a search warrant in a hunt for illegal immigrants at a Phoenix business Wednesday morning.

Dozens of sheriff's deputies arrived shortly after 6 a.m. and began questioning employees at Handyman Maintenance Inc., 2646 S. 19th Ave.

An employee's tip to the Sheriff's Office in November set the investigation into motion, said Sheriff Joe Arpaio said. Deputies were able to gather enough information for a judge to issue 67 warrants for employees suspected of identity theft and forgery.

Deputies arrested 40 of the employees named in the warrant on Wednesday, and another 20 who worked at the company and were suspected of being in the country illegally.

Arpaio said the company contracts with Maricopa County to perform landscaping work outside of county buildings.

County officials declined to comment Wednesday.

Martin Gutierrez, who has worked for Handyman Maintenance for about four years, said he had arrived late that morning and missed the initial entry of deputies.

But he said many of his co-workers had been intimidated by officers.

"They were yelling 'Be still, be still!' and pushing," he said in Spanish.

Gutierrez was cleared after showing officials documentation.

--Original Post--
Suspected illegal immigrants arrested in raid

February 11th, 2009 @ 9:59am

by Jim Cross/KTAR

Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies are cracking down on suspected illegal immigrants at a south Phoenix business contracted to provide landscaping services for the county.

Sheriff's deputies, armed with a search warrant, searched the premises of H.M.I. Contracting, Handyman Maintenance Incorporated, near 19th Avenue and Lower Buckeye.

Men and women of all ages were taken away in cuffs by sheriffs deputies put into vans.

The Sheriff's Office did not say how many people were arrested. Sheriff Joe Arpaio scheduled a 2:30 p.m. news conference to discuss the operation.

Adrian Lopez has worked for the company for eight years. He said deputies moved in and told employees not to use cell phones before dozens of co-workers were taken away in cuffs. "Nothing happened before. This is the first time."

This company has a multi-million dollar contract approved by the Board of Supervisors to provide landscaping services to several county buildings.

The raid came two days after the supervisors huddled to discuss the sheriff's decision to put all illegal immigrant inmates in a special area at the Tent City Jail. One supervisor, Mary Rose Wilcox, has called for a U.S. Justice Department investigation of that action.

Immigrants rights activist Elias Bermudez said Wednesday's raid was "payback" for the supervisors' questioning the sheriff's jail segregation.

"It's payback. He uses his authority for reprisals. This is what he does with his power, his authority," said Bermudez.

He added, "To us, it is not only painful. It angers us. He's committing violence against us. Does he want us to commit violence against him, is that what he's asking for?

The Sheriff's Office said H.M.I. is employing as many as 67 illegal immigrants suspected of identity theft.

Officials said the business has a multi-million dollar contract with the county.

5 suspected 'illegals' nabbed in Ephrata (Lancaster Online)

5 suspected 'illegals' nabbed in Ephrata

Published: Feb 11, 2009 10:53 EST

By RYAN ROBINSON, Staff Writer
Ephrata police on Tuesday turned over five suspected illegal immigrants from Mexico to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

They included Teodulfo Santiz, 21, charged with driving without a license, and four passengers — men ages 33, 25, 25 and 19 — and who like Santiz, claimed Mexican citizenship, Ephrata Police Lt. Chris McKim said today.

An Ephrata police officer spotted a car traveling eastbound on Route 322 driving erratically and making an illegal U-turn at Hahnstown Road in Ephrata Township at around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, McKim said.

The officer pulled over the car and the driver could not produce proper identification, he said.

Ephrata police called the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Citizenship and Immigration Services, which determined the vehicle's occupants were likely illegal immigrants, McKim said.

Ephrata police took all five people into custody, and a few hours later, ICE officers transferred them to the Department of Homeland Security, he said.

McKim said they likely will face deportation.

The incident occurred the same day the Associated Press reported that Mexican cartels are believed to have set up drug-dealing operations all over the U.S. Authorities are reporting a spike in killings, kidnappings and home invasions connected to Mexico's murderous cartels, the report stated.

But McKim said he would guess the five men in Ephrata have nothing to do with that news.

"I tend to doubt any drug connections," he said. "Maybe migrant workers."

McKim said police could not verify ownership of the car, which was registered in Kentucky.

He said Ephrata police have reported 11 illegal aliens to the Department of Homeland Security in the last six months. Four of those had been living in Ephrata.

Illegal immigrants held in Mt. Laurel (

Illegal immigrants held in Mt. Laurel [3rd item]

MOUNT LAUREL - Two illegal immigrants have been charged with obstruction and resisting arrest after they ran from police following a traffic stop, police said.

Reymundo Sotelo, 26, and Sergio Mindieta-Santos, 29, were arrested Thursday at an undisclosed location in the township, police said, adding that both were wanted on immigration warrants.

Sotelo and Mindieta-Santos were held in the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly on $12,500 bail each.

4 plant workers charged over deportation orders (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

4 plant workers charged over deportation orders

Immigration officials arrest four employees of city business


Date published: 2/10/2009

Four employees of L.B. Technologies in Fredericksburg have been arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement because they had been given final orders for deportation by an immigration judge.

ICE found the employees after reviewing L.B. Technologies' employment records, according to an ICE spokeswoman.

The agency subpoenaed to obtain those records after a routine fire inspection of the building L.B. Technologies leases at 404 Willis St. caused Fredericksburg officials to shut the building down and call in the federal agency. According to city police, the roughly 50 employees found at the scene when the fire marshal arrived all fled when city police showed up.

ICE determined there was probable cause to believe illegal immigrants were working at the business.

ICE, along with the General Services Administration, the Office of the Inspector General, the Department of Labor's wage and hour division and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms continue to investigate L.B. Technologies.

The company, which makes apparel under U.S. military contracts, is run by John P. Straiton, who was convicted in 1986 of selling faulty Yugoslavian ammunition as an American product to the government of El Salvador under a U.S. military contract.

L.B. Technologies has no business license to operate in the city, and had no occupancy permit to be in the Willis Street building.

That building remains classified as unsafe, which means no one can enter without a permit from the city building official. Building Official Steve Smallwood has permitted Straiton to enter the building, but nobody else.

Business cannot resume at that location until Straiton gets permits and inspections for a number of alterations that were made to the building.

Smallwood said Straiton had not begun the permitting process as of yesterday.

Man faces deportation after attempt to flee from sheriff (Daily Review Atlas)

Man faces deportation after attempt to flee from sheriff

Daily Review Atlas
Tue Feb 10, 2009, 10:12 AM CST

MONMOUTH — Three alleged illegal immigrants are facing deportation after a routine traffic stop.

Sheriff Martin Edwards stopped 23-year-old Ranold Estrada at about 1 p .m. Jan. 27 for speeding at U.S. 34 near the Henderson County line. Estrada, who resides in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, was arrested for no valid driver's license and taken to the Warren County Sheriff's Department.

Edwards contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who subsequently placed a hold on Estrada.

On Jan. 29, Francisco T. Chivalan, 22, Mt. Pleasant, came to the Warren County Sheriff's Department to pick up the van that was driven by Estrada at the time of his arrest. After conferring with ICE, he too was detained.

A third person, Osman Lopez, 23, Mt. Pleasant, was waiting in the parking lot near the sheriff’s office. Edwards asked him to come into the office for identification purposes and at that time Lopez attempted to flee. Edwards and Coroner Bill Underwood, who happened to be outside his office at the time, apprehended Lopez after a short foot chase.

He was charged with fleeing and eluding police and resisting arrest. He was booked at the Warren County Sheriff's Department and subsequently released to ICE.

Lopez sustained minor injuries from the chase and was treated at the sheriff's department.

ICE took the three to face a deportation judge in Chicago, Edwards said. All three indicated to a translator they were from Guatemala.

Liberians face deportation from U.S. (UPI)

Liberians face deportation from U.S.

Published: Feb. 10, 2009 at 3:13 PM

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn., Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Thousands of Liberians allowed into the United States under a temporary humanitarian program in the 1990s now face deportation, advocates say.

Some 14,000 Liberian nationals were allowed entry to the United States for humanitarian reasons as a bloody civil war raged through the West African nation, killing 250,000 people and displacing more than a million. But when the political situation stabilized, President George W. Bush in 2007 signed an order of "delayed enforced departure" for 3,600 Liberians who are still in the United States under temporary protection status, CNN reported.

With a March 31 deadline approaching, members of a large Liberian immigrant community in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center, Minn., say they are worried about being separated from their children born in the United States, who are not covered by the order.

"We're praying that they don't send them back. But if they do, it will have a serious effect on the business," said hairdresser Seyondi Roberts.

Aba Hamilton Dolo told CNN she has nightmares and panic attacks at the prospect of being separated from her two young American-born children, begging, "Please consider what would happen to our families if we were sent home."

Idaho's Ticket to Deportation (KIVI-Boise, ID)

Idaho's Ticket to Deportation

Posted: May 14, 2008 12:37 AM

It's a process we've never been able to show you before but now you can get an inside look into what happens when immigrants are deported. But you might be surprised to see not all the detainees are illegal immigrants. In fact, some have never been to the country they're being sent back to.

Every week, the regional branch of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement loads a private plane in Twin Falls with anywhere from 25 to 80 detainees. Those detainees are either sent to border cities to be transfered to Mexican authorities or fly elsewhere to face a judge who will make the final determination on if they stay or go.

The majority of the men are from Mexico but rounding out the top five countries of immigrant origin are Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Brazil.

Sometimes the immigrants are actually legal residents, as is the case with Carlos Valdez. Valdez was stopped at the Canadian border while trying to deliver an over-sized load for the shipping company he works for.

But Valdez pleaded no-contest to an aggravated battery charge while he was in high school that he said stemmed from a fight. And with that felony conviction in his past, he cannot attempt to cross borders, something he was not aware of.

Valdez's parents immigrated from Mexico legally over 30 years ago. His wife and brother are citizens. When Valdez came to the States, he was just one-year-old. And he's at a loss.

" I've been here all this time, it's all I know. What am I going to do in Mexico?" Valdez said. "I have no ties over there."

But some fly under the radar, like one man who asked we not identify him. He's been in Boise for 12 years, was working as a sous-chef in a steakhouse and was caught only when he was stopped for drunk driving in November 2007.

I.C.E. regional director Steven Branch said all of the men have been convicted of crimes. And for the ones who are here illegally, he calls it a double-whammy.

"They've crossed the line now. Now they're not just here illegally," Branch said. "They've crossed the line because they become involved in criminal activity."

Watch my entire report on the ticket to deportation to see how the process works.

Crimes sending illegals home (Deseret News)

Crimes sending illegals home

By Sara Israelsen-Hartley

Deseret News
Published: Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009 10:33 p.m. MST

SPANISH FORK — Sitting in the Utah County Jail in a blue and white jumpsuit, Pedro Dominguez-Reyes calmly answered questions about his status in the country.

"When you came in the first time, was it legally or illegally? With papers or without?" the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent asked in Spanish.

"Without papers," Reyes answers quickly.

Reyes, 27, says he was arrested by the border police in Arizona in February 1999 but agreed to return to Mexico voluntarily.

In October 2003, he made it back to the United States, and he's been working as a welder ever since.

Now, six years later, Reyes, a Mexican national, is in the Utah County Jail after a ticket he thought he paid ended up in a revoked driver's license and he got pulled over and arrested.

In less than a week, he should be on his way back to Mexico to see his wife and child, holding no bitterness for the officials who discovered him and deported him.

"It's their job," he said in Spanish. "In one way, it's good, because I can see my family. They can't come here."

Reyes is one of 119 illegal immigrants being housed in the Utah County Jail and managed by ICE, an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ICE officials visited the jail Tuesday to discuss their Criminal Alien Program and provide education about their efforts to combat illegal immigration.

There are no ICE detention facilities in Utah, so ICE contracts with county jails to hold immigrants, like Reyes, who have broken the law and are facing criminal charges. While waiting, ICE agents interview them to determine their nationality, and inform them of their rights to talk with a judge before being deported.

For the past three years, the number of immigrants in the jail has been increasing, jail officials said. In 2006, the jail housed 909 illegal immigrants, in 2007 the number jumped to 1,179. And during 2008 the jail had housed 1,458 illegals.

"Illegal aliens (present) an issue that needs to be resolved," said Utah County Sheriff's Capt. John Carlson. "It's a service that needs to be provided."

The jail is happy to house the immigrants, because they're paid by ICE for the detainees, and it helps keep their facilities full if the local population is down, Carlson said.

It's also a positive partnership for the ICE agents, who benefit from the work done by local law enforcement.

"We don't have resources to go out on the street and arrest everyone (who is here illegally)," said Steve Branch, field office director for ICE's Office of Detention and Removal in Salt Lake City. "But once they become involved in criminal activity, it's time for us to step up and take responsibility. Even for the minor crimes, we need to take action before something bigger happens."

But it's a tough job, Branch says. He mentions polite inmates like Reyes, who are driven to the United States because of what Reyes calls "necessities."

"I'm not a bad person who uses drugs and kills people," Reyes said in Spanish. "I'm working to (support) my family, that's all."

But even the most law-abiding illegal immigrant is still breaking a fundamental law. And it's Branch's job to enforce it.

Another inmate, Enrique Valle, came to the United States from Mexico on a traveler's visa. But instead of staying for the allowed six months, he stayed for almost six years.

The 24-year-old was arrested Monday for forgery, after he bought a social security card and made up a number.

And now, like Reyes, he'll be sent back to Mexico, where jobs are scarce.

"I don't know what I'll go back to," he said. "I really don't."

He says he should have applied for a working visa, but fear held him back. Fear of speaking up, being noticed, rejected and deported.

"If I (am) sent back, I'll try to do everything right (to come back)," Valle said. "I don't want to cause any more trouble to this country. It's been great to me. I'll figure out a way to come here legally or I'll stay in Mexico."