Sunday, January 31, 2010

Accused rapist deported before facing indictment and trial (The Patriot Ledger)

Accused rapist deported before facing indictment and trial
Illegal immigrant makes bail; feds send him home to Guatemala

By Allison Manning
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Jan 19, 2010 @ 06:22 AM

WEYMOUTH — Defense and prosecution were ready for Genesis Orrego’s arraignment on child rape in superior court. Orrego was charged with molesting a 10-year-old neighbor his girlfriend often babysat in Weymouth.

But Orrego, who faced charges of rape of a child with force and indecent assault and battery of a child under 14, wasn’t there. He was in federal custody, and the following week he was deported to his native Guatemala. He had been freed on $10,000 bail on the local charge, turned over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and they were doing their job – deporting him out of the country.

Norfolk County prosecutors knew Orrego, also identified in court as Genesis Orrego Gonzales, was in the country illegally, and said at his earlier arraignment in district court that ICE had placed a detainer on him. Orrego told police he had been in the U.S. for more than 10 years after walking for four months from Guatemala to Texas.

When he made his $10,000 bail, which prosecutors had requested be $100,000, he was transferred into ICE custody on July 27, according to immigration officials.

The Norfolk County District Attorney’s office expected him at his arraignment in superior court in Dedham on Sept. 24 after being indicted by a grand jury. Spokesman David Traub said the district attorney’s office was in contact with ICE and filed paperwork to make Orrego available for the Sept. 24 arraignment. They found out that wasn’t the case that day.

“It was his ability to meet the $10,000 bail that put him into ICE custody,” Traub said.

ICE cannot hold a person for another agency, whether they’re awaiting trial or not, spokesman Paula Grenier said.

“Our congressional mandate is to enforce the immigration custody laws on the books on the United States,” Grenier said. “ICE does not have the discretion to hold for another agency.”

Should Orrego come back into the U.S. again, he will have a superior court indictment and default warrant out of Quincy District Court awaiting him. But it’s not a given that he won’t re-enter the country again undetected.

While a local agency can file a request through ICE to have an alien transferred back into state custody, in Orrego’s case there was no state custody for him to be brought back into because he was out on bail.

Prosecutors can argue at arraignment that an immigrant with ties outside the country is a flight risk.

“In this case and other cases, we argue for high cash bail, but we don’t control what is set,” Traub said.

More Illegal Immigrants Arrested in Laredo (Laredo Sun)

More Illegal Immigrants Arrested in Laredo
A man originally from Jamaica tries to cross into Laredo as he demonstrated a false Canadian Passport.
Saturday, January 30, 2010

LAREDO, Tx.- More cases of people using fraudulent migratory documents continue to try and cross to the United States until this very day.

In the most recent case, a man originally from Jamaica tries to cross into Laredo as he demonstrated a false Canadian Passport. Reports indicate that 36 year old Errol Vernal Gram, born in the capital island of Kingston, arrived to a booth on the Juárez-Lincoln international bridge.

The subject demonstrated a picture of him on the passport but carried the name of David Anthony Spade. Customs official that carried out the inspection noticed something strange so he sent him to secondary.

As the identification system verified his documents officials detected what his true identity was. It revealed that Gram was deported by authorities on June 1st of 2006 and sent to Jamaica.

Deportation of H-IB Visa Workers at Newark, JFK – New Face of Outsourcing (GroundReport)

Deportation of H-IB Visa Workers at Newark, JFK – New Face of Outsourcing
by Jacob Cherian January 31, 2010

There’s been some discussion about outsourcing amid a recession that is leaving Americans unemployed. In these difficult times, the question why some have to benefit at the expense of others is relevant.

But, that paradigm has gone to new levels.

According to an India Abroad report, many Indian professionals were deported upon their arrival at JFK and Newark airports due to a new rule. The new regulation cites that foreign workers arriving in the U.S. on work visas should arrive at their workplace, say activists and immigrations attorneys.

Philadelphia-based immigration attorney, Morley Nair, said in a statement, "The airport deportations…have sent shockwaves through the H-1B community. H-1B employers, employees and their attorneys alike are flabbergasted by this brazen act of official highhandedness where individuals arriving on H-1B visas were singled out even before their primary immigration inspection, put through sham questioning, forced into making coercive statements, issued expedited removal orders, and sent back.”

Apparently, the problem is that workers with legitimate H1B visas are arriving at client sites or third party locations in the U.S. rather than at the employer’s office. A technically that some feel has taken the issue of outsourcing jobs to foreigners too far.

"Fifty to 80 percent of Indian H-1B visa holders come for a consulting company. Their companies will send them to client sites. The new rule stipulates that the petitioner of the visa should be present at the work place," said Aman Kapoor, ImmigrationVoice founder. The organization is an activist group for Green Card applicants and H-1B visa holders.

Nair commented that the practice of H1B visa holders turning up at client sites is the norm and has been around since the visa was first issued. As long as it is shored up with appropriate papers, it is not in violation of the law.

According to Kapoor, the move to curtail HIB holders stems from a memo by the Associate Director of Service Center Operations of USCIS, Donald Neufeld. The memo has only been issued on January 8, but the shocking nature of the response stems from customs officers interpreting the memo far too overzealously, said Nair. In some instances, immigration officials reportedly hassled HIB visa holders with questions about their pay and why they were being paid more than their American counterparts.

Cyrus Mehta, an attorney in New York explained the situation: “On one fateful day, January 11, when Continental Airlines Flight 49 landed in Newark from Mumbai, we know that CBP officer Matt McGirr and his colleagues, hunted through the lines for Indian H-1B workers even before they showed up for primary inspection. Their minds were made up. No detailed questions were asked' reports

Those who have been subjected to expedited removal (ER) will not be able to return to the U.S. for another five years, However, those Indian HIB visa holders who revoke their application for entry into the U.S. may go back with their funds and reenter following a new visa stamp or a new employer.

Attorneys say they are protesting against the actions of immigration officials with the authorities.

Jacob Cherian writes for SourcingLine, a leading source of data on news and functions linked to outsourcing.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Peekskill man held in Putnam on immigration warrant after bouncing check (The Journal News)

Peekskill man held in Putnam on immigration warrant after bouncing check

MAHOPAC - A Peekskill man who bounced a check at a Mahopac business in July is being held today at the Putnam County jail on a federal immigration warrant after authorities arrested him then began to question his immigration status.

Antonio Machisaca, 33, of 1740 Carhart Ave. wrote the bad check for $601 to Mahopac Tool Rental in July, according to the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

The business contacted him several times to make good on the check, but he never paid the money, police said.

Mahopac Tool Rental eventually filed a complaint, and on Tuesday, Investigators Stephen Tricinelli and Michael Nalbone arrested Machisaca at his Peekskill home, charging him with one count of issuing a bad check, a misdemeanor.

They then took him to the Putnam jail in Carmel for processing, and that's when questions of his legal status arose. Jail officials determined that he is from Ecuador but suspected he may be in the country illegally and contacted officials at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, per jail policy.

After an evaluation, ICE officials placed a federal immigration detainer warrant on Machisaca. Bail was set at $600 cash or $1,000 bond, but Machisaca would remain in jail on the detainer warrant even if he were to make bail.

Briefs: 3 immigrant bodies found in desert (Green Valley News & Sun)

Briefs: 3 immigrant bodies found in desert
Published: Friday, January 29, 2010 11:30 PM MST

Border Patrol agents recovered the bodies of three Mexican nationals in remote desert areas in the past two weeks.

Agents from the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector called the Pima County Sheriff’s Office after they were contacted by somebody who found skeletal remains near Highway 286 west of Green Valley on Jan. 23. Evidence at the site identified the remains as those of a female Mexican national.

The same day, agents discovered the body of a male Mexican national in a remote desert area in Santa Cruz County.

On Monday, a body was found wrapped in clothing near Robles Junction, east of Three Points, by somebody who called the Border Patrol. The person may have died due to exposure from the recent cold weather.

In other Border Patrol incidents, agents from the Tucson Station arrested 17 Chinese nationals in several incidents in the past two weeks, including four west of Nogales on Monday.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Newton resident from Lebanon faces deportation for “violent criminal history” (Newton TAB)

Newton resident from Lebanon faces deportation for “violent criminal history”
By John Hilliard, staff writer
Wicked Local Newton
Posted Jan 28, 2010 @ 06:16 PM
Last update Jan 29, 2010 @ 09:48 AM

Newton —
A 46-year-old Lebanese man from Newton could be deported because his “violent criminal history” violated the terms of his immigration status, but officials say they can’t release details of his criminal record.

Antranik Sarkissian, 46, of 76 Margaret Road, was arrested on Jan. 21 at about 7 a.m. on a violation of immigration status warrant by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to Newton police.

Paula Grenier, spokeswoman for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Boston office, confirmed Sarkissian was arrested and is now being held at the Suffolk County House of Corrections until he goes before a federal immigration judge in Boston.

Grenier couldn’t release Sarkissian’s name because of immigration privacy laws, but could confirm the accuracy of the Newton police report.

Sarkissian was among 24 people in the Boston area arrested by ICE agents as part of a national operation to catch suspected gang members. The Newton resident was arrested because of his criminal history, said ICE spokesman Harold Ort.

“By law, his significant violent criminal history makes him removable from the U.S. He will receive due process as provided by the law,” said Ort.

But it’s unclear how Sarkissian violated the terms of his immigration status.

Grenier said she didn’t have access to his criminal record, and Newton Police Spokesman Lt. Bruce Apotheker said he couldn’t comment on Sarkissian’s record.

According to records at Newton District Court, Sarkissian was involved in four separate cases in 2009, but a judge dismissed a charge of assault and battery in February.

Prosecuters also didn’t have enough evidence to pursue charges of aggravated assault and battery in November, and larceny over $250 in January 2009, according to the court.

The remaining charge - larceny by a single scheme for $250 - will be dismissed when Sarkissian pays a $500 fine. He’s already paid $350, according to the court.

According to land records, Sarkissian bought his Margaret Road home in May 2007. Grenier said privacy laws prevented her from commenting on how long he lived in the US, but said he is from Lebanon.

Grenier said Sarkissian has access to a telephone and is given a contact list of lawyers who can work pro-bono on his behalf. If the immigration judge orders Sarkissian out of the country, he will be sent back to Lebanon in a government plane or commercial flight paid for by the government, said Grenier.

A spokeswoman for the Executive Office for Immigration Review, a branch of the Department of Justice that oversees immigration hearings, said she didn’t have a date for Sarkissian’s hearing at the JFK Building in Boston.

Arizona transfers migrant inmates to ICE custody (Arizona Republic)

Arizona transfers migrant inmates to ICE custody
Significant savings expected as prisoners are turned over to customs

by JJ Hensley - Jan. 29, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

State officials searched high and low for budget savings, and found some sitting in Arizona prisons.

An order from Gov. Jan Brewer will tally more than $200,000 in savings after the Department of Corrections on Thursday turned over to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials 51 illegal immigrants housed in Arizona prisons.

The move was the result of a directive Brewer issued last month for non-violent, criminal aliens with 90 days or less left on their sentences to be delivered to ICE for deportation proceedings.

It costs Arizona taxpayers an average of about $57 a day to house prisoners in state custody.

With as many as 1,200 prisoners eligible for the early-release program over the next 18 months, DOC Director Chuck Ryan said the move ultimately should save the state millions of dollars.

The federal government is supposed to reimburse local law enforcement for costs associated with housing criminal migrants, but local agencies have traditionally received pennies on the dollar for what they're owed, and even that allocation could end under a proposed federal budget.

"President Obama's budget calls for ending all reimbursement," said Brewer's spokesman, Paul Senseman. "This is a first (step) . . . to actually transfer these inmates to their care and custody. It's one of the first things they can do. The main focus is to continue to lobby the federal government to fully reimburse."

Arizona leaders have made an issue of the payments for several years, starting when then-Gov. Janet Napolitano began sending bills to the federal government to cover those costs. Brewer reiterated that call last year, and state Treasurer Dean Martin repeated the largely symbolic move earlier this month when he sent Napolitano, now Obama's secretary of Homeland Security, a bill for $1 billion to cover those costs, with interest.

The practice of billing the federal government for inmate costs may be rife with symbolism, but removing criminal migrants from Arizona prison cells as early as possible translates to immediate savings, Senseman said.

"It is an enormous burden on local governments, particularly on counties that are contiguous with our international border," he said.

Brewer's new directive builds on a program already in place with ICE that saw up to 200 inmates transferred to federal custody each month. About 80 percent of those inmates are quickly deported to their country of origin. The remainder go to holding facilities in places like Eloy, where they await deportation hearings, said an ICE spokesman in Phoenix.

The early release of criminal migrants mirrors a system in place for U.S. citizens housed in Arizona prisons, who can be sent to a supervised-release program within 90 days of the end of their sentence.

Though the inmates were getting out of jail early, and some could be deported within days, Ryan said they should depart with a clear message.

"Don't come back," he said.

Haitian Immigrant Makes Rescue Plea (New Haven Independent)

Haitian Immigrant Makes Rescue Plea
BY Melissa Bailey | JAN 29, 2010 7:58 AM

Clerde Pierre asked a federal judge to save him from being sent back to his earthquake-stricken homeland. His Yale lawyers sought to make new law in order to help him.

Lawyers for Pierre, who is 31 and moved here from Haiti 16 years ago, made the plea Thursday before Judge Janet Bond Arterton in U.S. District Court on Church Street.

Members of the Yale Law School legal clinic (including students Rebecca Scholtz and Alice Hwang, left to right in photo) are trying to free Pierre. He has been locked up by immigration officials for the past 15 months pending deportation proceedings.

The legal team claim Pierre is a U.S. citizen who is being unconstitutionally detained. In their suit, they ask the court to proclaim Pierre a citizen and order him released.

Click here to read their suit, filed Dec. 23 in U.S. District Court against the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Pierre’s case is unusual for two reasons: his criminal record, and a disputed citizenship claim stemming from his out-of-wedlock birth.

Thursday’s hearing came on the heels of a move by the Obama administration to allow Haitian nationals who were in the U.S. at the time of the recent devastating earthquake to stay here for another 18 months. Pierre won’t be saved by that gesture, a federal prosecutor said Thursday.

He doesn’t qualify for Temporary Protective Status (TPS) because he classifies as an “aggravated felon,” said Lana L. Vahab, a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation.

“ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] plans to continue to remove all non-TPS aliens to Haiti,” Vahab reported.

“That’s sort of a grim prospect, isn’t it?” remarked Judge Arterton.

Vahab argued that the Connecticut court was the wrong place for Pierre to try to gain his freedom. If he wants to prove his citizenship, he needs to wait and appeal his case at the end of an administrative hearing, she said.

Federal law “limits the alien to one bite of the apple,” Vahab explained.

Pierre didn’t appear in court Thursday. He remained locked up in the Franklin County Jail and House of Corrections in Massachusetts, under orders by federal immigration officials.

His team of lawyers, two students and two professors from Yale Law School’s Jerome Frank legal clinic, tried to convince Judge Arterton to take up his request for freedom. They’re asking for a writ of habeus corpus so Pierre can be freed from detention.

At the heart of their argument is a constitutional challenge to a federal statute defining when foreign-born kids are granted U.S. citizenship. They claim the old law – since updated, but still applicable to some immigrants before a cutoff date – discriminates based on gender.

Pierre claims he is a U.S. citizen because of his father’s status. The federal government disagrees.

Pierre was born out of wedlock in Petite Riviere de L’Artibonite, Haiti. He grew up in Port-au-Prince, the capital city that’s now reeling from a devastating earthquake on Jan. 13. After his mother abandoned him, his father “acknowledged and legitimated him” at age 2. Pierre’s father came to the U.S. when Pierre was still young, leaving him to be raised by relatives in Haiti. His father became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1992, and brought Pierre to Connecticut shortly thereafter.

Pierre entered Connecticut as a lawful permanent resident. Then he got in trouble with the law. He served two years in prison for a robbery and another 30 months for gun and drug possession. When he came out of prison in November, 2008, ICE moved to kick him out of the country because of his criminal conduct.

Pierre is currently fighting an effort from ICE to boot him from the country. ICE successfully won a order of removal. But the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has reopened his case in light of a new claim that Pierre has schizophrenia and would be in danger of torture if he is returned to Haiti.

He claims that his mental illness, “in combination with the dreadlocks he wears as a matter of religious conviction and his lack of family members in Haiti, would make him a target for torture in a Haitian prison,” according to court records.

Of course, that was before the Haitian capital’s main jail collapsed in the quake, setting 5,000 prisoners free.

The BIA will examine those arguments and determine whether to follow through with ICE’s request to send Pierre back to Haiti. If Pierre loses the case, immigration officials would take another look at how dangerous it is before sending him there, according to Vahab.

Meanwhile, lawyers discussed with Judge Arterton the basis of the Dec. 23 lawsuit. The government tried to get the case thrown out, arguing that it is not the right time or place to make this claim.

Vahab charged that the suit should be brought in Massachusetts, where the prisoner is being held. She added that Pierre can’t make his citizenship claim until the federal government issues an order of removal. No such order has been made yet because the BIA is still considering Pierre’s case. If he loses, he can appeal the case in 2nd Circuit Court.

Scholtz and Hwang, both second-year students at Yale Law School, argued the bulk of Pierre’s case. In an extensive back and forth with Arterton, they tried to convince the judge to take up the case, instead of making him wait “who knows how long” for his case to go through administrative proceedings.

Pierre “has been detained for 15 months, despite being a citizen, because of the government’s erroneous belief that he is an alien,” Hwang said.

Yale Professor Muneer Ahmad stepped in a couple times to aid his students in explaining the case to the judge.

After two hours of careful questioning, Arterton adjourned court for the day. She said she would consider the motions and issue an opinion at a later time.

In future hearings, the Yale lawyers hope to get to the thrust of their argument: a constitutional challenge to a citizenship statute that denies Pierre citizenship.

The federal government does not consider Pierre to be a U.S. citizen because he falls under an old statute that allows out-of-wedlock children to inherit U.S. citizenship only from their mothers, not their fathers, Scholtz said.

That gender distinction was eliminated when the law was updated and renamed the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. Under the new law, children of U.S. citizens automatically become U.S. citizens when they enter the country as a legal resident.

However, Pierre is not helped by the new law because he was too old when it was passed, Scholtz said. The Yale team plans to claim he is being unlawfully denied the right to citizenship based on a discriminatory law.

After court, Ahmad accused the government of “throwing up a series of procedural roadblocks” so that the lawyers’ central point can’t “see the light of day.”

FedEx works with ICE to detain immigrant workers (

FedEx works with ICE to detain immigrant workers
Friday, January 29, 2010
By: Emmanuel López

Business, state working hand in hand to enforce racist policies

On Jan. 6, Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents detained four Guatemalan immigrant workers at a FedEx store in Riviera Beach, Fla., after the immigrants had gone there to pick up newly issued passports from their home country.

FedEx had contacted two of the immigrants and told them they had packages waiting for them at FedEx’s Riviera Beach location. When they arrived, they were told the packages could not be found and were asked to wait. In the meantime, FedEx officials contacted ICE agents, who arrived shortly thereafter and detained the two men.

Damaris Roxana Vasquez, 21, who had accompanied the two men to the FedEx store and was waiting for them in the car was also detained at gunpoint by ICE officials, along with her two-year-old son. Another Guatemalan immigrant who had come on his own was also detained.

“They pointed a gun at me, I felt a lot of fear. I started to cry, it’s the first time something like this happened to me,” Vasquez said. (El Sentinal, Jan. 23)

According to Vasquez, when another immigrant worker tried to escape from the scene, the agents fired a shot in the air. She was then placed in the back of a patrol car with her infant son. A total of two ICE units, two patrol cars, and eight officers were on the scene.

Two of the Guatemalan immigrants have already been deported. Vasquez now faces deportation proceedings. The fourth victim is being held at an immigration detention facility in Broward County also awaiting deportation proceedings.

FedEx calls ICE because of ‘suspicious’ packages

John De Leon, an attorney representing the Guatemalan government in the United States, told reporters: “These people were contacted [by FedEx] to go pick up their packages. … That’s the only reason they went to FedEx. The fact that the immigration authorities were available to detain these people clearly shows there was some coordination between FedEx and immigration authorities.”

Addressing the issue of racial profiling, De Leon also stated, “The names on the packages were clearly Hispanic, they were all Guatemalans, so if there was profiling going on here, I think most people would find that very troubling.” (South Florida CBS4, Jan. 15)

Back in November, officials at the Guatemalan consular office in Miami held a daylong session in Jupiter, Fla., to help Guatemalans in the area resolve problems with birth certificates, passports and other documents. Dozens of Guatemalans signed up for new or renewed passports, which are useful for workers to open up bank accounts and to carry out other day-to-day tasks.

When roughly 30 packages could not be delivered to the address listed, FedEx officials at the Riveria Beach store opened the packages. Allison Sobczak, a FedEx spokeswoman, said that officials then contacted ICE “to make sure the documents were legitimate.” Several of the passports where subsequently seized by ICE. (New York Times, Jan. 18)

“Each foreign government has an obligation to provide their citizens with a passport and no foreign government should interfere with that process and that’s what the U.S. government did and that’s what FedEx did,” stated De Leon. He also noted that ICE’s actions may have violated various treaties and established laws that allow foreign governments the right to communicate with its citizens.

FedEx’s justification for opening the packages was that they were “suspicious and undeliverable.” However, FedEx successfully reached several Guatemalan immigrants.

‘National security’ used as pretext to persecute immigrant workers

ICE spokeswoman Nicole Navas said agents responded to the FedEx office on Jan. 6 and began their own investigation by opening additional packages.

“Our agents were investigating whether these documents were legitimate,” she said. “There are national security ramifications if these were fraudulent documents.”

When asked by reporters to explain under what authority federal agents opened the FedEx envelopes, Navas said: “We have the authority to investigate any threats to our national security.”

However, the only legitimate threat here comes from the collusion between ICE and FedEx to arrest four workers whose only crime was to come to this country to feed their families. The justification of ICE that they were investigating a “threat” to national security is just another example of a national trend of the federal agency oppressing immigrant communities and demonizing migrant workers forced to leave countries economically decimated by imperialist relationships.

FedEx, for its part, has also been notorious enemy of working people. FedEx’s contribution to the mailing industry has been to exploit its workers as much as possible, thereby undermining the union wages and conditions won by the U.S. postal and UPS workers.

Even after the Jan. 6 arrests, the Guatemalan consulate was not contacted by ICE. Consulate officials became aware of the situation only after local activists from the Palm Beach County Immigrant Rights Coalition notified them that people were getting arrested at FedEx and others were being notified to pick up their passports.

The government of Guatemala has issued a formal protest to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. It is also looking into filing a lawsuit against FedEx for possible violation of the Geneva Convention for interfering in the business between a foreign government and its citizens, as well as violations of the Fourth Amendment rights of the immigrant workers for opening their mail without a warrant.

The consulate has also ended all its contracts with FedEx. Immigrant rights activists and members of the large Guatemalan community in South Florida are discussing possible actions as well.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Deportation order for cook could close Mama Mia (Baraboo News Republic)

Deportation order for cook could close Mama Mia
Mama Mia cook Musa "Mikey" Imeri, left, and co-manager and wife, Stacy, hold daughters Amelia, 3, and Anastacia, 5, in the restaurant's kitchen.
By Christie Taylor, News Republic
Thursday, January 28, 2010

A married Baraboo couple is bracing for as many as 10 years apart and the closing of the downtown Baraboo restaurant they run together after they learned Tuesday that Musa “Mikey” Imeri will be deported to his native country.

Imeri, 41, received notice Tuesday that he will be sent back to Macedonia on a flight that leaves Chicago this morning — after more than seven years of living in the United States.

Mikey spent five of those years cooking in Baraboo restaurants, including Mama Mia, which he has run with his wife Stacy, 34, for the past two years. Now, he said, the restaurant will have to close.

“We’ve got a really good customer foundation,” Stacy said, adding that much of the business relied on Mikey’s cooking.

During a two-week period in Setember when he wasn’t there, she said, “our business went to crap.”

“People just walked right out the door when they found out he wasn’t there,” she said. “You can’t replace him.”

But with rent on the building paid through February 2011, and more than $4,000 worth of food already purchased, Stacy said, she worried about financial hardship in the future, especially with few job prospects.

“It’s going to be horrible,” she said. “Suddenly I’m going to be a single parent again. Amelia’s going to ask me 15 times a day where her dad is.”

And, according to Mikey, the whole process started with a lost court summons.

Missed paperwork

The deportation order came after Mikey, who was arrested in December 2007 in Buffalo, N.Y. for an expired visitor’s visa, failed to show up for court proceedings after posting bond.

He said he never received the paperwork telling him when to show up, and that the court mistakenly sent it to an uncle’s address in Illinois — even after he gave court officers his Baraboo address.

And for some reason, he said, his uncle never received the paperwork, either.

“We were told it would take a while,” Stacy said. “We thought we would get notice.”

The couple didn’t discover the lapse until they hired a lawyer to move the court proceedings from Buffalo to Chicago, for convenience. It was then they discovered that Mikey’s deportation already had been ordered.

Mikey, whose original visa lasted six months, said he did not attempt to get a new visa at the time because he worked long hours and struggled with the English language enough at the time that he did not understand the process.

“Seven days a week, 15 hours a day,” he said. “I do not speak English, I do not know where to go.”

The couple has fought the order for the past two years, taking more than 10 trips to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in downtown Chicago in that time. After their first round of appeals was denied in July, they’re now waiting to hear from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on a motion to reconsider.

Once Mikey is back in Macedonia, he may have to wait 10 years to try to re-enter the country. It all depends on the couple’s second obstacle — proving their love.

Marriage questioned

They’ve been together for five years, and married in August 2008, but the process for getting that approved — a step that would help Mikey obtain permanent resident status — is also in limbo after immigration officials said they needed more evidence the marriage was real.

They went to the standard interview and submitted photographs of themselves together, the lease from the apartment they’ve shared since 2006, and even a petition signed by two dozen friends and family members, but they still are waiting for Mikey to be approved as Stacy’s “alien relative.”

Stacy said she thought part of the problem was prejudice, as, besides Amelia, she has four other children, and all have different fathers.

“They are more committed to each other than any other couple I know,” said Tracy Simmons, Stacy’s sister. “They have a real relationship.”

‘Bad situation’

Glorily Lopez, an immigration attorney in Madison and the chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said cases like the Imeris’ were common in her practice, and she heard of individuals in the same situation “on a weekly basis.”

“Congress authorized a lot more funding appropriated to increasing Immigration and Customs Enforcement budgets ... to execute thousands and thousands of standing orders of removal,” she said. “So they’ve been busy.”

Lopez said the process for getting Mikey back, too, will be “Herculean.” Even after the sincerity of their relationship is proven, the couple faces “at least a year and a half” of paperwork, at the end of which Stacy must prove that she will face “extreme hardship” without her spouse.

And if Stacy can’t prove that? Mikey will have to wait 10 years before he can enter the United States.

“It is a very bad situation,” Mikey said.

3 sexual predators arrested by ICE (Ethiopian Review)

3 sexual predators arrested by ICE | January 27th, 2010 at 2:28 am

LAKE PROVIDENCE, La. – Three foreign nationals, convicted of simple kidnapping and indecent behavior with a juvenile, were arrested at the Riverbend Detention Center on Jan. 22 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Office of Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) officers.

Manuel Elvir-Rodriguez, 21, and Elvis J. Correa, 22, both citizens of Honduras, and Elder Guzman-Reyes, a 27-year-old citizen of Mexico, were encountered by DRO officers while conducting Criminal Alien Program (CAP) screening at the Louisiana Department of Corrections.

Further investigation revealed that the three individuals were in the United States illegally.

Their unlawful status in the United States and their criminal convictions make them subject to removal from the United States. All three men were taken into ICE custody and will be detained pending arrangements for their removal from the United States.

Manuel Elvir-Rodriguez and Elder Guzman-Reyes illegally entered the United States on an unknown date and unspecified place.

Elvis J. Correa was first encountered on May 7, 2006, by the U.S. Border Patrol and removed from the United States to Honduras. He illegally reentered the United States at an unspecified location on an unknown date and remained at large.

On Jan. 18, 2009, all three men were arrested for second-degree kidnapping and molestation of a juvenile in Jefferson Parish, La. On Oct. 1, 2009, they entered a guilty plea to the criminal offenses of simple kidnapping and indecent behavior with a juvenile. All were sentenced to one year in prison.

“Too many children are victimized by predators that target the most vulnerable among us – our children,” said Philip Miller, DRO field office director for New Orleans. “ICE is committed to apprehending and presenting for prosecution cases involving those who abuse our children and endanger their lives and well-being. We will continue working with federal, state and local agencies to ensure that those who try to hurt children are brought to justice.”

This case was part of Operation Predator, which is a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers.

Man in brutality case in ICE custody (, RI)

Man in brutality case in ICE custody
By SCOTT ALLEN | News Editor
Published: January 25, 2010

PROVIDENCE —A man who claimed two Providence officers abused him is in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.
Federal agents said Luis Mendonca is eligible for deportation because of his criminal record.
Mendonca claimed two Providence police officers assaulted him in October. The altercation was caught on video.
Luis Mendonca, 20, was accused of assaulting two Rhode Island School of Design police officers before he was captured by Providence police.
The Providence officers were put on administrative leave.
Medonca was sentenced to 90 days in jail for violating probation.

Home-schoolers win asylum in U.S. (Washington Times)

Home-schoolers win asylum in U.S.
Germans fled 'persecution'

By Ben Conery
Thursday, January 28, 2010

A U.S. immigration judge's decision to grant political asylum to a German family with "a well-founded fear of persecution" for home-schooling their children should send a powerful message to the German government to change its stance on home schooling, the family's attorney said Wednesday.

"Home-schoolers are not a threat to German society," said Michael Donnelly, one of the Home School Legal Defense Association's team of lawyers representing Uwe Romeike; his wife, Hannelore; and their five children.

Home schooling in Germany is illegal in most cases, and violators can be fined, jailed and even lose custody of their children. Mr. Donnelly said the German government has decided home-schoolers are "trying to create a parallel society" that must be "stamped out."

The Romeikes home-schooled their children in Germany and received fines totaling $10,000. On one occasion, Mr. Donnelly said, police hauled their children off to school. In 2006, the Romeikes emigrated to Tennessee and continued home schooling their children. Mr. Donnelly said the family applied for political asylum within three months of arriving in the U.S.

Immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burman in Tennessee granted asylum to the Romeikes during a conference-call hearing Tuesday, as is typical in immigration cases. A written ruling is expected to follow, but was not available Wednesday evening.

According to Mr. Donnelly, Judge Burman ruled for the German family because "home-schoolers are a particular social group that the German government is trying to suppress."

"This family has a well-founded fear of persecution," Judge Burman said, according to the family's attorney. "Therefore, they are eligible for asylum … and the court will grant asylum."

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which represents the federal government in immigration cases, could appeal the ruling. ICE spokesman Temple Black would say only that the agency had 30 days to decide whether to appeal.

Michael Wildes, a prominent New York immigration lawyer, said it's "extraordinary" to see asylum being granted to people coming from a nation with which the U.S. has strong diplomatic ties and a military alliance.

But Mr. Wildes said the judge made the right decision.

"This intolerance does not reflect well on Germany, and frankly, as a Holocaust survivor's grandson, gives me great pause that they don't get down the slope they are embarking on," Mr. Wildes said. "Appreciation of diversity, ethnicity and tolerance needs to be part of Germany's DNA, and it's disturbing if this is the path that nation is once again headed on."

Phone calls to the German Embassy in Washington were not answered, and an e-mail message sent to its press office was not returned.

The Romeikes have said their evangelical Christian beliefs led them to home-school their children in Germany.

"During the last 10-20 years the curriculum in public schools has been more and more against Christian values," Mr. Romeike told the Associated Press after the ruling was delivered Tuesday.

The Romeikes declined to be interviewed by The Washington Times because they have an exclusive agreement with a German media outlet — another possible indication that the couple's biggest concern and audience now is in Germany and its home-schooling laws. That agreement was reached after the interview with the AP.

Mr. Donnelly said the Romeikes are "delighted" to be able to stay in the U.S.

"These are normal people," he said. "They are your typical home-schooling family."

In a statement released by the Home School Legal Defense Association, Mr. Romeike said his family was "grateful to the judge for his ruling."

"We know many people, especially other German home-schoolers, have been praying for us. Their prayers and ours have been answered," Mr. Romeike said. "We greatly appreciate the freedom to home-school we now have in America and will be building our new life here."

Close Call for Haitian in an Immigration Web (New York Times)

Close Call for Haitian in an Immigration Web

Published: January 24, 2010

A day after being released from federal custody in Pennsylvania, a Haitian immigrant whose detention in December touched off protests told supporters at a Manhattan church on Sunday that he was so close to being deported this month that friends were waiting for him at the airport in Port-au-Prince.

The immigrant, Jean Montrevil, said that on Jan. 6, he and dozens of Haitian and Dominican detainees were taken to the gymnasium of the detention center in York, Pa., for a journey that, for him, was supposed to end in the Haitian capital.

Their departure was suddenly canceled, he said, when the authorities realized that one of the other Haitians had a fever. Less than a week later, Mr. Montrevil was watching televised images of the destruction wrought by the earthquake in Haiti.

“I could’ve been there,” he told a crowd of more than 100 people at the Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square. “I could’ve been dead.”

The congregants welcomed the return of Mr. Montrevil, a member of the church and someone whom advocates have described as a symbol of both personal rehabilitation and flaws in the immigration system.

Mr. Montrevil, a father of four, was 21 and a legal resident in 1990 when he was convicted of selling cocaine and began an 11-year prison sentence. After his release he became, by all accounts, a solid citizen. He married an American woman and now owns a van service in Brooklyn.

A law passed in 1996 made noncitizens convicted of felonies subject to deportation. Mr. Montrevil was ordered deported in 1994, while still in prison. After his release he became part of a supervised program for deportable immigrants. He had to check in with immigration agents regularly, and when he showed up for what he thought was a routine appearance on Dec. 30, he was detained and sent to York.

After federal officials announced that they were suspending deportations to Haiti because of the earthquake, Mr. Montrevil’s lawyer, Joshua E. Bardavid, said he began negotiating for his client’s release, arguing that since he was not a flight risk or dangerous to others, the law barred him from being held unless deportation was imminent.

Mr. Bardavid said that on Thursday he filed a writ of habeus corpus with a federal court in Pennsylvania. On Saturday, Mr. Montrevil said, agents there drove him to New York, where he was released.

Mr. Bardavid said he did not know why Mr. Montrevil was detained. He has a 10 p.m. curfew and cannot leave the metropolitan area for more than 48 hours at a time. Mr. Bardavid added that he hoped to eventually get a judge to rule anew on the deportation, taking into account Mr. Montrevil’s rehabilitation.

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration, did not immediately respond to questions about the case.

Members of the church and of an advocacy group, the New Sanctuary Coalition, had sought to call attention to Mr. Montrevil’s case with three demonstrations early this month outside the Varick detention jail in Greenwich Village.

Mr. Montrevil told the crowd that he was deeply grateful for that support.

“I can’t thank you enough,” he said.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

ICE Captures 5 Phoenix Gang Members in 'Project Big Freeze' (MyFox Phoenix)

ICE Captures 5 Phoenix Gang Members in 'Project Big Freeze'
476 gang members or associates arrested nationwide

Published : Wednesday, 27 Jan 2010, 2:56 PM MST

PHOENIX -- As part of a nationwide gang bust, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Wednesday the arrest of five criminals in the Phoenix area that were linked to area street gangs.

Project Big Freeze targeted transnational street gangs with ties to drug trafficking in 83 cities across the nation. Nationwide, ICE arrested 476 criminals with gang connections.

Project Big Freeze is the largest ICE-led enforcement operation targeting gangs with ties to drug trafficking.

In Phoenix, 24-year-old Jose Gerardo Hernandez-Almaraz, 24, was arrested Jan. 19 at his residence in Chandler. He's an illegal immigrant being federal prosecuted for re-entry after deportation. He could spend up to 20 years in prison.

ICE and Glendale Police together arrested 37-year-old Gregory Walker on weapons and drug charges. The remaining three suspects will be deported.

Earlier this month, ICE agents arrested five members of the Broadway Gangsters, and also assisted MCSO in the arrest of 27-year-old Alfred Mikhaiel, an Iraqi national and member of the Latin Kings.

Nearly half of the 476 arrests were members or associates of gangs with ties to cartels in Mexico, South America, and Asia.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Icelandic woman admits to escape (The Press Republican)

Icelandic woman admits to escape
Published January 26, 2010 10:06 am
Staff Writer

PLATTSBURGH — An Icelandic woman has admitted prompting a massive local manhunt after she escaped federal custody on an immigration offense.

Linda Bjork Magnúsdóttir was set to go on trial this week in connection with her early November escape, which happened after she was taken into custody for trying to cross the Champlain border.

The 42-year-old was located at a Plattsburgh convenience store on Route 3 about eight hours after she fled from a federal magistrate’s office, located downtown.

Authorities said Magnúsdóttir somehow managed to leave the building undetected after she asked to use the restroom.

After a multi-agency search, police took her into custody when some area residents recognized her at Maplefield’s as the wanted fugitive.

She has been held at Clinton County Jail without bail since then and recently returned to federal court, where she admitted to the charges against her.

Prosecutors said she will likely receive 12 to 18 months in prison when she is sentenced on May 10.

At the time of her arrest, Magnúsdóttir claimed she was trying to get into New York to visit her daughter, who lives downstate.

But because she had been removed from the country several years ago, she is considered an inadmissible alien.

Icelandic media has reported that Magnúsdóttir was once a leader of a religious cult, which later went “belly up” after she allegedly had an affair with a younger member of the congregation. Her former husband was reportedly the preacher of that group.

Officials have not released any additional information about the circumstances of her escape and will not say whether any federal agents were disciplined over it.

Noncitizen criminals face deportation (St. Petersburg Times)

Noncitizen criminals face deportation

McClatchy Newspapers
In Print: Wednesday, January 6, 2010

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Roger Simmie is no angel.

Twenty years ago, the Mountain View, Calif., carpenter was convicted of resisting arrest and drug possession. Fifteen years after that, he was found guilty of battering his girlfriend. Three times, he has been convicted of drunken driving.

But it's what he didn't do that got him locked up recently in the Santa Clara County Jail. Simmie, a Scot by birth who fought in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine, never applied for U.S. citizenship.

Now he finds himself facing deportation as one of nearly 400,000 immigrants incarcerated in 2009 by the U.S. government. A growing number of noncitizens who have been living in this country as legal permanent residents are learning that run-ins with the law, even minor ones, are translating into life-altering, one-way tickets to homelands they no longer know.

A report from Human Rights Watch found that 1 out of 5 "criminal aliens" deported from 1997 to 2007 had been in the country legally. The report found that 77 percent of the deportations were for nonviolent crimes.

Congress passed its last major immigration bill in 1996. Since then, the number of detainees has grown fourfold as new biometric technology, huge databases and more boots on the ground have made it easier for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to track down immigrants.

If immigrants have been in the U.S. fewer than five years, they can be deported for a single crime of "moral turpitude," a broad term that includes shoplifting and pot possession. If they're here longer than five years, they can be deported for either one aggravated felony or two crimes of moral turpitude.

Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for ICE, said: "The vast majority of immigrants who come here comply with laws, lead productive lives and contribute to society. But, if you come here as a guest of this country and you break our laws, you risk forfeiting the right to remain here."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Co-defendant not allowed in court (Monterey Herald)

Co-defendant not allowed in court

Herald Salinas Bureau
Updated: 01/23/2010 01:29:56 AM PST

The man who allegedly prompted deputy Jesse Piñon to run into a Salinas auto body shop where he shot the owner did not hear Piñon's testimony this week because the Sheriff's Office arrested him on an immigration hold.

Defense attorney Dan Clymo said Jose Villarreal, who was free on bail and has been in the country for 30 years, was arrested outside court last fall by deputy Bryan Hoskins, whom Clymo has accused of conspiring with Piñon to fabricate evidence in the case.

Hoskins confirmed the arrest Tuesday. Asked if it was carried out at the request of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, he said, "We got information about it."

Sheriff's officials have stated a hands-off approach to immigration issues in the past. Other than assisting agents with two gang-related sweeps last year, sheriff's Cmdr. Mike Richards said this week, "we don't get involved with ICE stuff."

On Friday, Richards said Hoskins had not returned his phone calls and he could not explain why Villarreal was arrested.

Clymo asked Judge Russell Scott to allow Villarreal to attend the hearing on co-defendant Carlos Fletes' motion to suppress evidence, noting it was the first time Piñon would testify about why he allegedly chased Villarreal into Fletes' auto shop on Jan. 15, 2009.

But prosecutor Chuck Olvis argued Villarreal had no "standing" in the motion because it was based on the argument that Piñon illegally entered Fletes' property.

Man with fake documents held (Waterloo Courier)

Man with fake documents held


Cedar Rapids, Ia. - A Minnesota man who was arrested this week at the Cedar Rapids airport with fake military documents also was carrying items associated with an East Africa resistance group, according to court records.

Officers with the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement approached Ambe Ashenafi Wodesso, 25, of Minneapolis on Thursday at the Eastern Iowa Airport during a Transportation Security Administration operation.

Although a flag allegedly connected with the Oromo Liberation Front found in Wodesso's belongings sparked the interest of federal agents, it appears the bogus military records were part of a scheme to avoid debt obligations, court records state.

Authorities arrested him on federal charges of possession of a counterfeit Department of Defense seal, possession of marijuana and making a false statement. The false statement stems from comments he made about the purpose of the defense department paper.

If convicted, Wodesso faces up to 11 years in prison and a $600,000 fine.

ICE officials spotted Wodesso getting off a Trailways bus dressed in clothing that seemed to signify gang membership, records state. Agents decided to take a closer look at his immigration status when they learned he was from Africa.

That's when they noticed a tattoo of a scroll on his arm that talked about the "struggle of the Oromo people" to find equality, democracy, freedom and peace. They also found a flag associated with the Oromo Liberation Front, which is an armed resistance organization that operates in Ethiopia, an ICE agent wrote in an account of the incident.

The Oromo are an ethnic group from the Horn of Africa. They began arriving in the United States in the 1970s as refugees escaping oppression.

Wodesso told agents that the flag was for his soccer team and that it had been made in Portland in 2007 despite the fact it had a "made in China" label, court records state.

Authorities noted the same flag can been seen on the OLF's Web page as well as on sites for the Oromo ethnic group and soccer teams in the United States.

What also caught the attention of investigators were two cigars filled with marijuana instead of tobacco, the paper with the U.S. Department of Defense seal, four commercial driver's licenses with varying states of legitimacy, and credit cards under his and other names.

The defense department document claimed Wodesso was a private first class who had been deployed to Afghanistan from June 2007 to January 2008. He reportedly admitted to ICE officials at the airport that he had never been in the U.S. armed forces and said an acquaintance made the letter for him because he thought it would be cool to show his friends.

Wodesso said the letter wasn't for any fraudulent purpose, but agents also located letters to creditors seeking to discharge debt that happened when his identity allegedly was compromised while he was deployed overseas.

Deportation possible for accused molester (Naperville Sun)

Deportation possible for accused molester

January 25, 2010

An elderly man will face deportation proceedings following his trial on charges of sexually molesting one of his grandchildren last month in his Naperville home.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Friday placed a "no bond" hold on Daniel G. Hernandez, 76, who lives with several family members in an apartment at 770 Inland Circle.

Hernandez is charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, a felony. He allegedly made a videotape or took photographs of himself molesting his victim, a pre-teenage child who Naperville police said was abused between Dec. 14 and 18.

Bond for Hernandez was set Friday at $17,500 by a judge in DuPage County Circuit Court in Wheaton. He remained Friday evening in DuPage County Jail.

Hernandez's country of origin was not known. It also could not be determined Friday whether he is in the U.S. illegally, is here on a visa or has a "green card."

ICE spokeswoman Gail Montenegro said federal authorities ordered the "no bond" hold "because we believe that person is eligible for deportation." Those proceedings will begin immediately upon conclusion of the criminal case, she said.

Police were called at 7:52 p.m. Wednesday to Hernandez's home, in the County Lakes area of Naperville's far northwest side.

Fire and police emergency radio reports broadcast about that time indicated at least two family members had locked themselves in a bedroom of the ground-floor apartment. A 911 caller reported having possession of a videotape that "involves a molestation" allegedly committed by Hernandez, according to the radio broadcasts.

Police Cmdr. Mike Anders on Thursday would not confirm or deny the existence of a film or photographs of the alleged abuse, saying only that unspecified evidence was recovered from the apartment.

Anders also assured area residents that investigators have concluded Hernandez "has not victimized any other children."

Hernandez is scheduled to appear Feb. 22 in court.

Deported sex offender indicted for re-entry to US (AP c/o Miami Herald)

Deported sex offender indicted for re-entry to US
Posted on Monday, 01.25.10

MIAMI -- Immigration authorities say a deported sex offender has been indicted on charges of re-entering the U.S.

A statement released Monday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said 30-year-old Celestino Ramirez-Hernandez was convicted in 2001 of statutory rape of a child under the age of 16. He served his sentence on probation and was deported to Mexico in 2002.

He returned to the U.S. on an unknown date. Using an alias, he was convicted of grand theft and possession of stolen-forged driver's license. Authorities then found out he was a convicted sex offender.

He was serving a four-year sentence in Miami for failure to register as a sex offender when immigration enforcement agents arrested him on Jan. 11.

If convicted, Ramirez-Hernandez faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

ICE raids South Philly homes (Following the Lede)

ICE raids South Philly homes

This morning at 6 a.m. Immigration Customs and Enforcement broke down doors at numerous homes in South Philadelphia taking 30 suspected undocumented immigrants into detention, according to CS&T sources.

More information as we receive it...

Pre-school and school-age children were in many of the homes raided. Mothers were not taken into detention so they could stay with the children. According to our source, children were "traumatized" by the doors being broken down by agents.

UPDATE AT 1:30 P.M.:
Two of the addresses of houses in raid had been given to ICE several months ago as suspected hubs for human trafficking and/or a prostitution ring. Other homes in the area appear to have been targeted separately , and the undocumented immigrants picked up at those are not believed to be associated with the human trafficking/prostitution ring, according to our sources.

UPDATE AT 4:30 P.M.:
Inside one of the houses raided.

E., who is the second-trimester of her pregnancy, was asleep at 6:50 a.m. today. An insistent knocking at the door woke her. Her husband, and the nephews who share the house with them, had left at 6:30 a.m. for their jobs as cooks -- E. was alone with her 5-year-old son. She didn't answer the door. But in a matter of minutes, eight armed ICE agents where inside her house and then inside the room where she had been sleeping.

"They didn't break down the (front) door," she said, "so they must have done something to force the lock to get inside."

She was terrified, she told me during a brief interview we conducted over the phone, but was grateful that her son was asleep when the men entered the house. Otherwise, no doubt he would have been as frightened as she was, she said.

"Who lives here?" she said the agents asked her.

"My nephews, husband, my son and I," she said she answered.

They asked her whether her child was born here (he's a citizen) and then asked her for the names and birth dates of all of the members of her household, as well as their phone numbers. She wanted not to give them the information, but she complied.

"I was scared," she said. "Pretty much alone in the house with these men asking me questions, and never telling me what it was they were looking for."

The agents looked around her house, E. said, and found a passport that belonged to one of her nephews. They took that with them.

When they left they didn't tell her what is expected of her now (she is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, as is her husband) or whether they will be back when they anticipate her husband and nephews will be home from work -- but that is what E. guesses will happen.

Of course, she called her husband as soon as the ICE agents left.

E. is spending the night at a friend's house tonight; her nephews and husband will also be staying with friends. They don't know for how long, E. said. What's more, they have no idea what they can, should or are required to do now. None of the agents answered any of her questions.

"But I can't go back home," she said. "Not to wake up again like that -- to eight men with guns. In my house."

Temporary Protection for Haitian Immigrants (WBRU - Providence, RI)

The Pulse, 1/24/10: Temporary Protection for Haitian Immigrants

When the earthquake struck Haiti last week, about 30,000 illegal Haitian immigrants to the U-S were waiting to be deported, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Officials put a temporary stop to that. A few days later, the Department of Homeland Security announced it would offer Haitians a Temporary Protective Status to let them stay in the country for 18 months. But that plan isn’t as simple as it sounds. WBRU’s Emily Jones has more.

“Right now, the Haitian community in the United States is unable to go back to their country, so we’re giving them a safe haven in the interim.”

That’s Luz Irazadel, a spokesperson for US Citizenship and Immigration Services. She explains the government offers Temporary Protective Status, or TPS, when something like a natural disaster or political unrest makes it unsafe for immigrants to go home. And she says it’s important for undocumented Haitians to apply.

“It’s an opportunity for them to be legally present in the United States and, if they choose to, be able to work.”

Beginning last Thursday Haitians in the US since the day of the quake or before could start applying.

But they don’t get TPS automatically. Bruno Sukys is director of citizenship and immigration services for the International Institute of Rhode Island, which offers help with the application. He explains there are a lot of problems with the program – starting with the price.

“We’ve been getting a lot of inquiries but from my sense when you tell them what the price is, the 470, I think that’s got to be a huge stumbling block because 470 dollars is a lot of money, it’s almost 500 dollars.”

That fee covers fingerprints and all the documentation that goes with TPS. The Institute and USCIS both stress that’s all immigrants have to pay – and they should watch out for anyone charging to help with the process.

Still, Sukys says the fee to the government is steep, and that’s the help Haitians in the US really need.

“Maybe this is where we can be talking about Haitian relief – sending Haitian relief, which is fine and dandy. Maybe we should get a Haitian relief here in the state of Rhode Island so we can have a packet of money for people to have available so they can offset some of these fees.”

And Sukys says it isn’t just the fee that turns people away. He and Michelle DePlante, also of the International Institute, explain many don’t trust the government.

Bruno: “There’s always a fear factor. Many people don’t want to come out because they think this is a conspiracy, that this is a way for immigration to get people.

Michelle: “Essentially once they apply for this TPS they’re giving all their information to the government. And if the government decides in 18 months not to renew this status then the government will have all their information and they won’t be protected.”

Opponents of TPS are worried about the opposite problem – that it will mean amnesty. Terry Gorman is executive director of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement. He says an earthquake doesn’t change the fact that illegal immigrants have broken the law.

“Because there was a disaster in Haiti, we shouldn’t be allowing lawbreakers to continue to reside in the United States. If there was a hurricane that devastated Florida, we wouldn’t say all the criminals in Florida, we’re gonna wave your sentence because there was a big hurricane and you don’t have a place to live.”

But Bruno Sukys doesn’t buy that argument.

“We’re into this punishment thing. We’re into punish, punish, punish, punish. Granted, there’s some folks who are bad apples. And even I would say, I don’t want the bad apples here in the United States either. But there’s some people for different circumstances who are here – they want to have a better future.

And he says for immigrants risking deportation to a devastated country, TPS is the best option – a way to stay protected, and a way to get work.

U.S. War Veterans Fight Deportation (La Opinión c/o New American Media)

U.S. War Veterans Fight Deportation
La Opinión, News Report, Pilar Marrero, Translated by Elena Shore and Suzanne Manneh, Posted: Jan 24, 2010

Not even the most decorated and honorable military service can protect U.S. war veterans from ruthless immigration laws, which consider a long list of non-violent crimes as grounds for deportation.

More and more cases have come to light of veterans who, after serving in this country’s Armed Forces and armed conflicts, get in trouble with the law when they come home and end up in deportation proceedings.

According to activists, hundreds of veterans – perhaps even thousands – have already been deported. There are no official figures because all deportations are counted together and military service has no effect, positive or negative, on the process, immigration lawyers say.

Héctor López, who now lives in Rosarito, Baja California, is one of them.

"When I came home from the service I got involved in drugs and alcohol. I was arrested a few times for that, for having open bottles in the car, or drugs,” says López in a phone interview from Mexico. "I never got involved in violent crimes, and I’m not a terrorist. But my service didn’t matter. I was deported."

For some, it’s a situation that took them by surprise after many years of residence and service.

That’s what happened to Louie Álvarez, who came here from Mexico when he was four years old. When he was 17, in the 1970s, he joined the Marines because, he says, he felt totally American. "I grew up with John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart movies," he says.

Álvarez served in Vietnam, and when he came home he started hanging out with people in his neighborhood who did drugs, and he started doing drugs himself. He was arrested several times for possession and went to jail for a short time. A few years later he was arrested again with a “small quantity of marijuana in the car.” He went to prison, and after serving his time he was handed over to immigration authorities to be deported.

After many attempts, Álvarez was released on bond. He is now in his third appeal before the Ninth Circuit. But he knows he’s going to lose.

"I'm trying to buy time," said Alvarez, who lives with his family in the town of Aliso Viejo, in Orange County, Calif. When he was detained by the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in El Centro, he applied for naturalization to see if they would grant it to him. After all, soldiers currently receive an accelerated and generous process of naturalization, even if they are not residents, especially when they have served in times of war.

His case wasn’t rejected, but it wasn’t approved wither. But most likely it will not be granted. One of the conditions that veterans have to meet – despite being exempt from many others – is having “good moral conduct.” In other words, they can’t have committed any crimes.

That’s easier said than done, according to Robyn Sword, who along with some soldiers founded the group Exiled Veterans, which seeks to bring attention to their situation.

Sword is the girlfriend of Rohan Coombs, a Jamaican veteran who served in the first Gulf War and returned with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a mental disorder that was not taken seriously until recently that many returning soldiers suffer from.

"He was suffering from PTSD without knowing it, and then his wife died right before Christmas, and the problem got worse. He started to fall into a downward spiral, he started using marijuana and drinking to try to alleviate the feelings he had, He got into trouble a few times and he was convicted three times for drug offenses,” said Sword.

In addition to the incidence of PTSD, drug and alcohol problems are not uncommon in war veterans. For example, a study by the Department of Health and Human Services found that one third of veterans demonstrate mental or psychosocial problems, and 20 percent have been diagnosed with an alcohol or drug problem.

Sword claims that many don’t even know they have a problem and end up in trouble with the law.

Coombs has been in an ICE detention center for more than a year and has a trial date set for March. "We know he will be deported and will appeal the case. The only thing left is for the Secretary of Homeland Security (Janet Napolitano) to give an order to stop the deportation of these veterans ... or to change the law," she added.

If these soldiers had been U.S. citizens when they got out of the service, none of this would have happened, explained Heather Boxeth, a San Diego lawyer who has represented several veterans pro bono.

A citizen cannot be deported, no matter how many crimes he or she committed, she explained. But a foreigner, a permanent resident who is not a citizen, can be deported for committing various offenses outlined in the 1996 immigration reform act as “aggravated felonies” -- even many of them are not actually felonies under the criminal code.

"There are many more than you can imagine," said Boxeth. "Last Tuesday I lost another case, a Vietnam veteran who was deported. The judge told me after the hearing that he did not want to (deport him). But he had no choice under the law."

Boxeth, the National Lawyers Guild and other lawyers and activists argue that veterans should be considered U.S. "nationals" because when they enlist in the military, they have to take an oath of loyalty almost exactly like the oath people take to become naturalized citizens.

"We're not saying they have to make them citizens, but nationals for serving in the Armed Forces. If the courts reject that argument, the law needs to change," says Boxeth.

It is very contradictory, Boxeth says, that the law allows for the posthumous naturalization of soldiers who die in war, and yet deports "those who survived, who served honorably and then got into trouble, in many cases, because of their service."

Some lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have shown sympathy for these cases. California Congressman Bob Filner, D-Calif., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, have expressed their solidarity and spoken out on behalf of the veterans facing deportation.

But most lawmakers "think that since they have committed crimes, they can’t be defended politically," said Sword.

A few days ago, the Department of Homeland Security ended regulations that facilitated citizenship for veterans of the Armed Forces. Currently, an immigrant can become a citizen after serving only one day in a war, even if he or she is not a permanent resident.

But current law does not allow immigrant soldiers to become citizens -- regardless of how honorable their service was -- if they have had any serious problems with the law. It doesn’t prevent their deportations either.

"Even though we should be grateful for their service, that doesn’t mean that when people commit crimes they don’t pay the consequences. If you are a resident and you commit certain crimes, you can be deported. And many of these crimes also probably complicate the path to citizenship,” says Chris Bentley, spokesman for DHS.

Hector Lopez, who was deported to Mexico--where he hadn’t lived for more than 30 years, had to learn Spanish. He doesn’t understand how his country can abandon him like this.

"It is very difficult. I consider myself an American. There are no jobs here, they pay 60 pesos a day. Certainly I made mistakes, but I have reasons to live. Now I am clean, I'm healthy, this isn’t fair. I’m not a terrorist, I didn’t bomb anything. I want to return to my country. "

Police discover illegals during dispute call (Tribune Democrat)

In brief: [4th item] Police discover illegals during dispute call

Published: January 24, 2010 10:51 pm
The Tribune-Democrat

When called to a domestic dispute on Virginia Avenue Sunday, Johnstown police instead discovered a group of illegal immigrants from Mexico, officers said.

Five men were sitting in the residence, drinking beer, police said, and could not produce proper identification.

Officers called federal Immigration and Naturalization authorities, who told police that the men would be deported.

Confiscated roosters to be put down (Weatherford Democrat)

Confiscated roosters to be put down

Staff Report

Approximately 118 roosters seized in a weekend raid at a cockfight near Poolville are to be euthanized according to a Monday ruling by Parker County Justice of the Peace Jayne Choate.

A hen confiscated by law enforcement officials will be placed up for adoption.

Several dead and injured roosters were also found when law enforcement personnel crashed the illegal weekend event.

Some of more than 170 people arrested will face criminal charges ranging from gambling to animal cruelty. Others have been released after paying $300 fines. Immigration officials also arrested 65 following the raid.

Authorities began watching the Poolville barn about two weeks ago after receiving a tip cockfighting was held there.

Drugs and cash were also confiscated in the Saturday bust and Child Protective Services officials helped authorities with between 10 and 15 children at the cockfight. According to published reports, the children were all released to relatives.

Participating in the raid were sheriff’s deputies, Weatherford police, Texas Department of Public Service troopers, a team from the Humane Society, county emergency management team members and immigration officials.

Immigration agents stop vans taking workers to Gillette Stadium (Providence Journal)

Immigration agents stop vans taking workers to Gillette Stadium

01:00 AM EST on Friday, January 8, 2010
By Karen Lee Ziner
Journal Staff Writer

Sixty people stopped by immigration authorities in Foxboro early Wednesday morning had driven from Rhode Island to clear snow at Gillette Stadium, according to several of the workers who were detained and released.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents pulled over four passenger vans carrying the workers on Route 1 north in Foxboro, according to ICE spokeswoman Paula Grenier.

Seven of the 60 remain in custody, Grenier said, and 49 were released and ordered to go to ICE offices for further interviews about their immigration status. Two were charged with immigration violations and released pending a hearing before an immigration judge. One person who had legal documentation was released, and another is in removal proceedings.

“This was a targeted law-enforcement operation looking for specific fugitives,” Grenier said. “We have two individuals wanted on warrants of deportation and five who have illegally reentered the United States after having been deported.”

One of the van drivers, Gregorio Pablo, was among more than a dozen seeking assistance in Providence on Thursday.

He said he was driving 14 people to the stadium to shovel the snow off the seats. He said he believes all the workers are Guatemalan.

Through an interpreter, Pablo said, “We were close to the stadium — three miles away,” when he saw flashing lights behind him. Pablo said he pulled over to make way for what he thought was a police cruiser trying to move past him. Instead, he realized that he and others were being detained by immigration agents.

Pablo said he got a job driving the van this week through word of mouth, through “an office in Boston.”

“If the stadium needs to be cleaned, if there’s an event,” he said, then workers get called in. And on Sunday nights after a game, “they’ll pick up all the garbage.”

Stacey James, spokesman for Gillette Stadium and the New England Patriots, said, “We utilize multiple third-party vendors that hire a temporary work force for snow removal. So it’s a short-term temporary hire. We expect with any vendor that we use that they vet all employees, and as far as I am aware, everyone that came to work here is vetted.”

Grenier, the ICE spokeswoman, said, “We were looking for specific individuals. When we do conduct these, we often encounter other aliens during the operation. In this case, we did encounter a number of others in addition to the seven who are detained.”

Grenier said fugitive operations teams make it a priority to arrest people with criminal histories. In this case, those include domestic assault, obstructing a police officer, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and driving while under the influence.

She said the two people with outstanding deportation warrants will be deported. Federal authorities will review the cases of five others who reentered the country after they were deported for possible federal prosecution.

Immigration lawyer Roberto Gonzalez, of East Providence, said Thursday that he was working with other attorneys and the Guatemalan consulate in Rhode Island to provide legal representation and assistance for some of the detainees.

Feds: Bar owner forced teenage girls to work as sex slaves (The Monitor)

Feds: Bar owner forced teenage girls to work as sex slaves

January 14, 2010 9:10 PM
Jeremy Roebuck and Jared Taylor
The Monitor

MISSION — A soiled white teddy bear and empty condom wrapper left at the now abandoned home on Lusby Street provide a stark reminder of what investigators believe went on there.

The nondescript structure northwest of the city served as home base for a group of teenage Honduran girls who claim they were forced into prostitution to pay off the debts they incurred when smuggled into the country.

And behind their servitude, law enforcement officials say, was a man who put them to work in his bar and for his customers.

“All three were forced to work ten hours a day, six days a week and were paid $20 per day,” U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Anson Luna wrote in the criminal complaint filed in the case. “All monies made were … supposedly applied to their debt.”

ICE agents raided the home Wednesday and discovered three girls ranging in age from 14 to 17.

Each told a similar story, according to court documents. They were brought from their home country to the United States by a man who told them they could pay off their $4,000 to $4,500 smuggling fees by working in a Rio Grande Valley restaurant where they would be “well taken care of.”

Instead, once they arrived they were kept under guard in the Lusby Street home and forced to work at El Paraiso Bar, a night club owned by 34-year-old Mexican national Beleal Garcia Gonzalez, the complaint states.

Garcia would often sell his wards for sex to his customers, night club employees told authorities.

A day after the raid, federal authorities remained tight-lipped about how they were first tipped off to the stash house. But the remnants of what they found there lay scattered about the premises.

Stiletto heels and gold-spangled purses were abandoned next to stuffed animals. A toy machine gun rested on a kitchen counter, next to half-eaten plates of food.

Both Garcia and a bartender at El Paraiso, 22-year-old Elizabeth Mendez Vasquez now face charges of harboring illegal immigrants — a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison upon conviction. Each remained in federal custody Thursday pending a detention hearing scheduled for next week.

It was unclear whether either had retained an attorney.

But as neighbor Marcos Segovia surveyed their rented home from his front yard across the street Thursday, he remembered the girls in high heels who returned to the residence late each night.

“We never saw any of their faces,” he said. “You never know what you get with the neighbors.”

Parents’ deportations divide long-time parish family (Catholic San Francisco)

January 20th, 2010
By José Luis Aguirre

Gilbert Mejia and his sister Helen thought the end of the world had arrived when they said goodbye to their parents and Dulce, their four-year-old sister, at San Francisco International Airport in November.

The two teenagers, 18 and 13 years old respectively, were witnessing the deportation of their parents to Guatemala. The couple had come to the United States without documentation 17 years earlier and had established a home of their own and a family. Both parents had good jobs: Salvador Mejia worked as a carpenter and Elida Mejia-Perez was a caregiver for children and older adults.

But despite what the couple accomplished in a starting a new life, they were sent back to Guatemala because they were living in the United States illegally, according to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) complaint that was upheld in court after a long fight.

“Mom and dad were very productive citizens,” said Precious Blood Father Dave Matz, a parochial vicar at St. Raphael Parish in San Rafael, where the Mejias are long-time members.

Advocates for immigration reform point to the breakup of families as one reason that current law is unjust and should be changed. Cases such as that of the Mejias are not uncommon, although most undocumented people who are prosecuted by ICE do not fight the charges as hard as the Mejias did.

“There are so many like them in the same situation,” said St. Raphael parishioner and Marin Organizing Committee activist Susan Brown, who is leading a community effort to assist the Mejia children. “It’s just that they fought it.”

According to current U.S. law, when Helen, a U.S. citizen, turns 21, she can petition to bring her parents back to the United States. However, because they were deported, they are barred from returning for 10 years.

The nightmare for the Mejias began in March 2007 when ICE officers knocked on the door of the sleeping family’s home in Novato. They had a warrant for someone the family did not know.

“Because we opened the door and they were already inside the house, they decided to ask for our documents,” Gilbert remembered.

“They entered in a very violent way,” Helen added. “There were eight agents in the house and some more in the backyard. They spoke loudly, had guns, and took me off the bed, pointing at me with their guns. Then I saw how they handcuffed my parents.”

ICE agents let Elida Mejia-Perez remain in the house to take care of her children. Salvador Mejia and an uncle were arrested and taken to a detention center in San Francisco. He was released on bail pending a hearing on his case.

While they awaited their court date, the couple had to wear electronic ankle bracelets and report frequently to immigration officers.

That was a blow especially to Salvador Mejia, who lost work as a carpenter because he had to report to immigration officers three times weekly in San Francisco.

“With his hands and skills he was doing the American dream,” Brown said. “Unfortunately he didn’t come over on the Mayflower, so his papers are required.”

In October 2007, an immigration judge in San Francisco ruled in favor of the Mejias after family members testified that both Helen and Dulce were born in the United States and that the entire family would suffer if they had to return to Guatemala.

ICE appealed. The family continued to fight to remain in the United States, spending more than $30,000 on legal fees to contest the appeal. They also asked U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein to sponsor a private bill for them. She reviewed the case twice, but declined to intervene.

In the end, the couple lost their case and had to return to Guatemala, taking Dulce with them.

“It was the saddest day in my life,” said Gilbert, a student at Santa Rosa Junior College who wants to become an architect. “Now, I feel the solitude in the house.”

Helen, a ninth grader at Novato High School, said that watching her parents’ struggle was very difficult. “I felt very bad and was very angry that not even in the airport did ICE take the bracelets off,” she said. “They did that only when my parents were in the airplane. They treated them like criminals.”

Nobody told Dulce about the situation. Instead, her siblings told her she was going to meet her grandma in Guatemala where she was going to have a pet.

Since arriving back in their native Quetzaltenango in Guatemala’s western highlands, the couple has not been able to find a job. They continue to worry about their two children in the Bay Area.

The couple are now living in Xela, the second most important commercial city in Guatemala, but are still unable to find work, Gilbert said.

“Things are really, really hard there,” he said. “There are zero jobs.”

The teenagers live with another uncle in the same house their parents had bought, but the mortgage and other bills have to be paid. A December property tax bill is due.

Their relatives help, as do other concerned adults including Father Matz and Father Paul Rossi, pastor at St. Raphael Parish.

“The same week their parents were deported, we decided to start a fund with the help of some parishioners” Father Matz said. “For me it is such an honor to put my effort into helping these kids.”

Efforts to help the children are focusing on finding more employment for the uncle and an aunt, who have stepped in as caregivers. People helping the family are struggling to keep the household intact and to make sure that the aunt and uncle earn enough to cover the mortgage payments on the house.

“They go month to month trying to make the payment,” Father Matz said.

Father Matz has taken Gilbert to meetings and events where he can connect with people who might be able to help, especially with legal matters.

“We are talking about a family with a strong connection with the community, who have worked very hard for a better life,” Father Matz said. “Immigration officials should be conscious that they are separating families and leaving them with an open wound for the rest of their lives.”

Helen said the immigration authorities should consider the impact of their actions on families.

“Everybody in this country is an immigrant in a different way,” she said. “Immigration officials are not taking into consideration the feelings of the families when they are deported, when people don’t even know when they are going to see each other again. They should walk in our shoes because they have families, too. What would they think if they got separated against their will?”

Gilbert, who coordinates the youth group at St. Raphael Parish, added: “Family separation is very harmful. If I could send a message to the immigration officials, I would tell them that instead of spending millions of dollars on deportations, they should spend that money on comprehensive immigration reform.”

Asked to comment on the case, ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said: “This family had access to due process and their case was reviewed, and ultimately it was determined that they didn’t have a legal basis to remain in the country. ICE doesn’t make the determination about a foreign national’s deportability. Those decisions are made by immigration judges.”

The law allows immigration courts very little discretion to suspend deportation for family reasons, said Francisco Ugarte, an attorney for the San Francisco Immigrant Legal and Education Network.

“While ICE may say they take families into consideration in their law-enforcement decisions, that is simply not true,” Ugarte said. “I have seen countless families torn apart.”

Family unity would be a cornerstone of immigration policy under one measure in the current Congress, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009, HR. 4321, introduced by Illinois Democrat Luis V. Gutierrez.

The Mejias’ legal troubles are not over. On the day of the raid at the family’s home, the officers did not detain Gilbert because assumed that he was an American citizen. But three days later, they found out that he was born in Guatemala.

Gilbert is due in court in July, when a judge will decide if he can stay in the United States or if he must return to Guatemala, a country he doesn’t know. He said his lawyer weighs his chances at 50-50.

The Mejia-Perez Family Fund has been established at Marin Bank, l4460 Redwood Highway, San Rafael, CA 94903. The account number is 03-131026.