Deportations Before Reform: Anatomy of an Immigration Bust
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
By Marianne McCune
The men and women who knock on illegal immigrants’ doors and take them away in handcuffs are members of what are called fugitive operations teams. They often meet up before dawn in some dim parking lot near the homes of the immigrants they're looking for.
The job of fugitive operations teams is to find and arrest "fugitive aliens," or people who've officially been told to leave the U.S., but have not. As lawmakers continue to debate immigration reform, President Barack Obama is pushing for a path to citizenship for people who are here illegally. But at the same time, the Department of Homeland Security is deporting more immigrants than ever –- around 400,000 a year. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says its priority is to deport those who’ve committed serious crimes. But more than half of the immigrants arrested do not have convictions. And among those who do, many of the crimes are minor. Critics say the government is breaking up families for crimes that should be forgivable and that people should be given a chance to make amends.
On a Tuesday morning earlier this year, Fugitive Operations supervisor Darren Williams met his colleagues from the New York office at a Queens diner. By 5:30 a.m., they were gathered around team leader Raul Concha to get briefed on the plan.
"All right, this morning we’re going to be going after three targets," Concha told the team. First on the list: a Moroccan couple living in East Elmhurst, Queens, Abe and Fatima (they asked that WNYC leave out their last names for fear that talking to the media would somehow count against them in immigration court). Concha told the group that Abe and Fatima were both convicted felons. Their crime: immigration fraud.
As Darren Williams leads half a dozen fugitive operations vehicles toward Abe and Fatima’s apartment building, he prepares to meet the individuals behind the case descriptions. "Everyone has a story," Williams says. "Everyone has their own individual story that’s unique to them. And I listen. I’m not going to say I believe every story. But I do listen to the stories.”
Abe and Fatima’s story has many layers, but we’ll start with their crime: marriage fraud. When Fatima moved to the U.S. to be with Abe, he was working legally and waiting for a green card, but the green card fell through. By that time Fatima was pregnant with their first child. The two had been married in a mosque, but there was no official record. So when an American friend offered to get Fatima a green card by becoming her legal husband, they went for it. And they got caught: Fatima, for the fake marriage, Abe for paying off the friend.
When it was time to begin court proceedings, the couple had a one-month old baby. The prosecutors offered what Abe thought was a pretty good deal. He says they told him, “the deal is plead guilty, no jail time.” So they did. What they didn’t know was that marriage fraud is a felony and under current immigration law, a conviction means an automatic order of deportation, regardless of the circumstances. “Every lawyer we go to, they say, 'you know it was a big mistake to plead guilty,'” Abe says.
After two years on probation, the two were officially told to leave the U.S. By that time they already had two American children, and they chose to stay. And that’s how, almost a decade later, Abe and Fatima ended up a target of a fugitive operations team.
Last spring, at six in the morning, the agents gather in front of their building. The landlord lets them in, they head upstairs, press the bell on the couple’s apartment and Fatima appears. She's wearing jeans, a white sweatshirt and a tangle of morning hair.
”So, six o’clock in the morning, I’m trying to do my breakfast, I open,” Fatima says. She says she’d been expecting this day for years. “I say good morning, come on in!”
She went immediately to wake Abe up. “I told her, so we’re leaving? She told me, yes, I think we’re leaving,“ Abe says.
That morning, the two were are calm. But, to Abe and Fatima, the idea of going back to Morocco is horrifying. This next layer of their story will give you an idea why. Fatima says she grew up in a lower class, traditional family in Morocco, under the rule of her father and six brothers. She couldn’t choose her own clothes, watch television or listen to music. When she tried to learn guitar, she says her father came in and broke it. “Because I have no right,” she says. “He told me, 'why? You gonna go play in the bars?'”
When she was in her 20s, Fatima moved to France, but she was under her brother’s strict command. She says she dreamed of coming to the U.S. "For me it’s freedom," Fatima says. She believed it's a place where a woman "can have all her rights, she can do whatever she wants.”
Abe was already living in the U.S. at the time. He was separated from his first wife –- a Haitian-American –- and he says he was longing to start a family with someone more like him. So when his cousin in France told him about Fatima, he courted her over the phone.
Fatima says the first time she talked to Abe, he told her he trusted the cousin who’d said good things about her. And Abe remembers telling her, “Listen, I’m not trying to have a girlfriend, or pass time with you. If you are willing to put your hand in my hand and walk together, I would love to get married with you and run a family together.”
Fatima’s recalls thinking, “Wow, that’s the perfect man for me! I’m going to go to America. I’m going to be free and I’m going to raise my kids different than I was raised in Morocco.”
On the pretense of visiting family friends, Fatima made two secret trips to see Abe. And on the second, they got married on the way home from the airport. When Abe told his family, they disapproved of his choice, so he cut off ties with them. And when Fatima called her brother, she says he was very upset. “He threatened me,” she says. She says he told her if he saw her again, he would kill her. Being from Morocco himself, Abe says he knows how it is. “For them it’s like a black spot on the family honor.”
Before immigration agents entered Abe and Fatima’s home, they didn’t know the couple had children. After 10 minutes of explaining to the couple what’s going on, team leader Raul Concha comes out to the stairs to explain to Williams that there are two girls in the apartment, ages 9 and 12.
“We’re going to leave the mother here,” Concha says. “And I’m going to bring the husband with us.” They take Abe downstairs –- away from his family –- before they handcuff him.
"We try to make it as smooth as possible for everyone concerned,” Williams whispers.
As her husband is led out the building’s front door, Fatima follows him to the bend in the stairs, finally losing hold of her calm and letting tears pour down her cheeks. As he leads Abe out into the morning, Concha assures her he’ll be fine.
“It’s a tough job,” Concha says later, “But we enjoy it. It’s our daily routine.”
In the car on the way back to immigration headquarters at 26 Federal Plaza, Williams says there are stories that move him. “I’m human,” he says. “There are situations that are heart-wrenching. Anytime you deal with kids it’s touching. Anytime.”
But when asked whether he thinks it’s unfair, as advocates charge, to deport people who’ve been here 10 or 20 years, paying taxes and raising American children, Williams argues that there are wait-lists across the world for would-be immigrants to come to the U.S. legally.
"Is it fair to have individuals who are here illegally jump over those folks who’ve been waiting all this time?” Williams says “I don’t think so! What would you tell all those family members out there that are waiting?”
At 26 Federal Plaza, Abe is fingerprinted and photographed, but Williams has discretion over whether or not to detain him. And because Abe is the sole-breadwinner and does not seem likely to runaway Williams sends him home. However, he’ll have to wear an electronic ankle bracelet and report weekly to immigration officials. Fatima has only to report once a month.
Sitting on their couch some weeks later, the two say they’re making a last-ditch effort to re-open their cases, anything to delay being sent home to Morocco.
"I do this mistake. It’s a big mistake,” Fatima admits. “It’s a crime! So I’m paying for it.” But she says she cannot go back to Morocco.
Until now, the couple had never told their children they were here illegally. But the older daughter, Selma, says she figured it out when she heard them say deportation in Arabic. “Because sometimes, to be honest, I eavesdrop on what they’re saying on the phone in Arabic,” she says. When she heard the word "deportation," she says she ran to look it up in the dictionary. “I just kept it to myself until they told us.”
Selma says she hasn’t told a single friend. “I’m 12. I don’t know about this stuff yet,” she says. “I’m not old enough to go through this yet. So it’s a little weird.”
All their lives, Abe says, these girls have been asking about Morocco: "What is our family? Who we have in our family? What is Morocco, how is Morocco?"
Now Selma says, “I don’t think I have any family in Morocco. So we don’t know who we’re going to live with and we don’t know who’s going to take care of us.”
"Where is home? Back home where?” Abe asks repeatedly. “Those girls have a right to a life, a basic life, that they will not have at all back home.”
There are many more layers to this story, but under current immigration law, none are relevant. Abe and Fatima are fugitive aliens. They lost their right to stay in the U.S. when they were convicted of immigration fraud. And as lawmakers debate immigration reform, some are likely to push for more discretion for immigration judges, especially when American children are involved.
As things stand, Abe and Fatima are likely to be deported. And they’ll have to decide whether or not to take their American daughters with them.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Deportations Before Reform: Anatomy of an Immigration Bust
Laredo couple arrested for transporting illegal immigrants
A local couple was arrested by federal agents because they were apparently transporting a man and a woman from Ecuador, and were taking them all the way to San Antonio, Texas.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
By: Laredo Sun
LAREDO, Tx.- A local couple was arrested by federal agents because they were apparently transporting a man and a woman from Ecuador, and were taking them all the way to San Antonio, Texas.
According to the authority’s report, the detention took place at the immigration checkpoint, located on mile 29 of Interstate Highway 35, north of Laredo.
The couple was driving an Elantra car, and had another couple accompanying them on the back seat of the car. When immigration agents began to ask them questions, the woman on the backseat seemed very nervous and the driver mentioned she was his niece and he was taking her to San Antonio.
The federal officials decided to send them all to secondary revision and it was until them that they discovered that the two passengers on the backseat were illegal immigrants from Ecuador.
ICE expands its jail print program all along border
Immigration history checked during booking
By SUSAN CARROLL
Aug. 10, 2010, 9:18PM
Immigration officials announced Tuesday that all 24 counties along the Southwest border are now part of a federal program designed to run fingerprint-based immigration history checks on suspects booked into local jails.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement program, dubbed Secure Communities, debuted in Harris County's jails in October 2008. Since then, the program has expanded to 544 jurisdictions and is scheduled to be used across the country by 2013.
Since its launch, the program has helped remove more than 34,600 illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, including more than 9,800 classified as "aggravated felons," ICE officials said.
"The Secure Communities initiative reflects ICE's ongoing commitment to smart, tough enforcement strategies that help ensure the apprehension of dangerous criminal aliens," said John Morton, ICE's assistant secretary. "Expediting removals decreases the amount of time these individuals spend in ICE custody — saving taxpayers money and strengthening public safety."
Though less controversial than ICE's other jail enforcement program, called 287 (g), which trains jailers to act as immigration agents, Secure Communities has prompted concerns by immigrant advocates about deporting people accused of minor crimes and possible racial profiling.
At the Harris County Jail, the program has helped ICE book 9,244 suspects into federal custody through July 31, said Gregory Palmore, an ICE spokesman.
Of those suspects, 2,191 were classified by ICE as "aggravated felons"; 4,953 were convicted of lesser felonies or more serious misdemeanors; 1,155 were convicted only of misdemeanors; and 945 were in the country illegally but had no criminal record.
Of those 9,244 suspects, ICE has so far removed 7,762 from the country.
On Tuesday, several immigrant advocacy organizations and the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law released the results of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit regarding the Secure Communities program. The advocates charged that ICE misled the public about the program, which officials had stated was targeted at the most serious criminal offenders.
Citing ICE documents, the report charged that 79 percent of people deported through Secure Communities "are not criminals or were picked up for lower level offenses."
In response to the report, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a statement saying that the agency "continues to monitor the program's effectiveness and is committed to identifying and removing serious criminals."
Gang members arrested in Indiana
Posted: Aug 11, 2010 10:48 PM
By Nathan Ryder
(WFIE) - Suspected gang members are rounded up in southwestern Indiana and most now face deportation.
Federal Immigration agents joined local police agencies to arrest 14 foreign-born suspects described as violent gang members.
The 14 men were taken into custody over the last two days, and most are from the Jasper and Evansville areas. Federal agents say they're extremely dangerous and had the weapons to prove it.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Gail Montenegro says, "We use our unique authority to actually remove these individuals from the community and from the United States."
Two weeks ago near our sister station in the Richmond, Virginia area Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested several men. These busts dubbed 'Operation Community Shield' is an on-going effort between ICE, Homeland Security Investigations and local law enforcement partners throughout the country.
Montenegro says, "They have the on the ground gang intelligence about the threats in their communities. We partner with them and identify individuals we believe are here illegally."
The 14 men were arrested in Jasper, Huntingburg and Evansville over the two day operation.
ICE agents say all the men are members or associates of three different violent street gangs, Zoe Pound, SUR-13 and MS-13, stretching across international borders.
Nine suspects are from El Salvador, three from Mexico, one from Honduras and another from Haiti.
Montenegro says, "MS-13 is a notoriously violent gang and as part of the operation, during the arrests, we also seized several semi-automatic weapons as well as two machetes."
Agents also seized two semi-automatic hand guns, each with two magazines of ammunition and 300 other rounds of ammo.
Montenegro says, "They will be processed and placed into deportation proceedings. In most cases they will have an opportunity to present their case in front of a federal immigration judge."
ICE officials say many of those arrested have criminal histories in addition to their immigration violations including drug dealing, sexual battery and aggravated assault with a weapon.
At least a dozen face deportation, the other two are being held in the Dubois County Jail and facing local charges.
Statewide immigration sweep yields 63 arrests
Posted: Aug 12, 2010 3:12 PM
PHOENIX - In the largest sweep ever of its kind in the state, immigration agents arrested 63 convicted criminals and immigration fugitives Wednesday.
In Pima County, agents made 8 arrests.
The three-day sweep conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement wrapped up Wednesday night.
Sixteen of the total 63 arrested were considered "immigration fugitives" because they were ordered by a court to leave the county but had failed to do so.
Agents have already deported 25 of the people arrested, a release detailed.
More than 60 ICE agents were involved in the operation, in addition to officers from the U.S. Marshals.
The operation dispatched the officers across the state, making arrests in Phoenix, Tucson, Sedona, Mesa, Tempe and Prescott.
"These are not people we want to see walking the streets here in Phoenix or in any other community in Arizona," ICE director John Morton said in a press conference Thursday.
At least 12 of people arrested are facing re-entry felonies that carries a penalty of 20 years in prison.
Among those arrested include a 55-year-old Mexican man who was convicted of selling meth in 2003. A 45-year-old Mexican woman convicted of fraud amounting to $820,000 was also arrested.
Those who were arrested but not being criminally prosecuted will be processed "administratively" for removal from the U.S. Arrestees who had outstanding orders of deportation are being removed immediately.
The rest will be held until they see an immigration judge.
More info on those arrested:
From 9 different nations including countries in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East
Family says feds wrongfully raided home
Posted: 8/13/2010 at 5:10 am EDT
HIALEAH, Fla. (WSVN) -- A family is claiming federal agents raided their house when they were looking for someone who was not there.
The Boveda family said federal agents raided and ransacked their home Thursday morning. Even the front window was smashed. Broken glass was scattered across the floor and nearly every door in the house was busted open. Even their closets were cracked.
"I can't believe what I was seeing. I said don't break the window, I'll open the door for you, but you got the wrong house, you got the wrong house," said Orlando Boveda.
Federal agents said the raid was part of a larger operation to arrest alleged drug smugglers, and the house they raided was the last known address of a suspect who they were looking for.
"The guy said open the door with your hands up," Idalmis Mesa said.
"They were looking for weapons or drugs or something," recalled Boveda.
The family said they were all held at gunpoint. "We have machine guns pointed at us. They don't tell us what's going on. They won't tell us who they are looking for. I'm scared as hell," Mesa said.
Boveda has marks on his chest he claims are from being thrown on the floor. "We were scared that we got shot because they were nervous with a rifle pointed at you," he said.
Boveda said immigration agents told him they were looking for his son, 29-year-old Michael Boveda, but he currently sits behind bars at Broward's jail. "Michael is in your control. Michael is in jail for one year already," said the elder Boveda. He said the agents mistook his 17-year-old grandson for his son.
"My brother is full of tattoos and my son doesn't have one tattoo on him," said Mesa. "How do they not know that this person they are looking for has been in jail for the last 10 months. That should be detective 101."
Mesa said they were all pinned down, even a teenage girl. "My daughter is 14 years old. You can tell by looking at her, there is nothing she's going to do. Why so they need to have her on the floor with a gun to her head?"
The Bovedas documented the damage. They said their 3-year-old pet boxer ran off in all the chaos and has yet to return.
Paramedics went to the house to check on the 68-year-old grandfather who survived a heart attack a few months back and now suffers from chest pains.
"There was no need to get to all this," Idalmis said.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a statement saying: "There were no injuries to the occupants of the house nor to police officers on the scene. The case is still under active investigation, and we are currently seeking additional members of the organization."
Police report: Man suspected of DUI after crash
by Tracy Press staff
Aug 13, 2010
Tracy Police logged 192 calls Thursday, including the following reports:
[Second item] 6:45 a.m.: Police arrested Filemon Aquiles Barreros, 27, on suspicion of having false citizenship/immigration documents and driving without a license after an officer stopped a Chevrolet pickup at Byron and Grant Line roads. Barreros was taken to San Joaquin County Jail and held without bail. He has a Monday afternoon court date in Manteca, and the U.S. Border Patrol was also notified.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Federal Fugitive Arrested On Drug Charges
Deputies say the man was living in Morehead City but was in the U.S. illegally.
Posted: 5:29 AM Aug 10, 2010
Reporter: Heather King
Deputies say they've arrested an immigration fugitive who they believe was trafficking drugs into Carteret County.
Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck says 32-year-old Reyniery Alonso Montoya Zapata of North 20th St. in Morehead City is behind bars in Carteret County. Deputies say they arrested Zapata in Cape Carteret Thursday after finding an ounce of cocaine in his car, with the help of Sheriff’s K-9 “Dino." Deputies say they also found several fake forms of identification, including an ID card saying Zapata is a Honduran police officer.
Zapata was charged with 2 counts of Trafficking in Cocaine and Maintaining a Vehicle to Keep or Sell Illegal Substances and No Operators License. His bond was set at $200,000.
Lawmen say ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) has been looking for Zapata, a federal fugitive. After facing the charges filed in Carteret County, ICE begin the process of deporting Zapata.
“This is another success story in our efforts to enforce our state laws and to assist in the identification and apprehension of illegal aliens who are in our country and who choose to break the law” said Sheriff Asa Buck.
Fingerprint sharing led to deportation of 47,000
By Suzanne Gamboa, The Associated Press
Posted: 08/10/2010 05:15:07 AM PDT
WASHINGTON — Records show that about 47,000 people have been removed or deported from the U.S. after the Homeland Security Department sifted through 3 million sets of fingerprints taken from bookings at local jails.
About one-quarter of those kicked out of the country did not have criminal records, according to government data obtained by immigration advocacy groups that have filed a lawsuit. The groups plan to release the data Tuesday and provided early copies to The Associated Press.
As issue is a fingerprint-sharing program known as Secure Communities that the government says is focused on getting rid of the "worst of the worst" criminal immigrants from the U.S.
Immigration advocates say that the government instead spends too much time on lower-level criminals or noncriminals.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement divides crimes into three categories, with Level 1 being the most serious. Most of those deported committed Level 2 or 3 crimes or were non-criminals, a monthly report of Secure Communities statistics shows.
"ICE has pulled a bait and switch, with local law enforcement spending more time and resources facilitating the deportations of bus boys and gardeners than murderers and rapists and at considerable cost to local community policing strategies, making us all less safe," said Peter Markowitz, director of the Immigration Justice Clinic at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York.
Markowitz's clinic, the National Day Laborer Organizers Network and the Center for Constitutional Rights had requested and sued for the statistics. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released some of the documents late Monday.
Richard Rocha, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman, said non-criminals still may be people who have failed to show up for deportation hearings, who recently crossed the border illegally or who re-entered the country after deportation. He also said it's important to remember that more people commit crimes that are considered Level 2 and 3.
Secure Communities is "a beneficial partnership tool for ICE and state and local law enforcement agencies helping to identify, prioritize and remove convicted criminal aliens not only from the communities, but also from the country," Rocha said.
The Obama administration wants Secure Communities operating nationwide by 2013.
As of Aug. 3, 494 counties and local and state agencies in 27 states were sharing fingerprints from jail bookings through the program.
From October 2008 through June of this year, 46,929 people identified through Secure Communities were removed from the U.S., the documents show. Of those, 12,293 were considered noncriminals.
1:41 a.m. — Near 53rd Street and 33rd Avenue, Carlos Tavarez arrested on a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation warrant, driving under the influence and no operator’s license.
6 Arrested for Drug Trafficking and Immigration Violations
2:48 PM EDT, August 10, 2010
FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) - Officials working for several different law enforcment agencies arrested six people on drug trafficking and immigration violations.
On August 6, following an investigation involving the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office, Guilford County Sheriff's Office, Winston-Salem Police, Kernersville Police and Stokes County Sheriff's Office, three search warrants and six individuals were arrested in connection with cocaine trafficking.
As a result of the searches, over 11 pounds of cocaine valued in excess of $550,000, two firearms, four vehicles and cash was seized.
Investigators arrested the following people:
Cecio Hernandez Hernandez, 20, of 6510 Cooke Avenue, Clemmons. He was placed in jail under $300,000 bond.
Carlos Lopez Canales, 45, of 2100 Chandler Place, Clemmons. He was placed in jail under $175,000 bond.
Jose Eleazar Hernandez, 17, of 3655 Cornell Blvd., Winston-Salem. He was placed in jail under $300,000 bond.
Alejandro Rumbo-Lopez, 21, of 407 Partridge Lane, Kernersville. He was placed in jail under $175,000 bond.
Manuel Antonio Inzunza-Valdez, 26, of 5460 Shattalon Drive Apt. #33, Winston-Salem. He was incarcerated in Guilford County.
Luis Miguel Curiel-Acuna, 27, of 207 Westdale Avenue, Winston-Salem. He was incarcerated in Guilford County
Photographs of the arrestees are not available due to continuing investigative efforts, according to the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office.
Mexican bakery robbed by illegal alien
Posted: Aug 10, 2010 3:25 PM
By Harve Jacobs
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Police arrested an illegal immigrant Monday night after he allegedly fired shots inside a bakery and struggled with the victim over a gun.
Investigators say the suspect, Javier Castillo, 18, who is homeless, is in the United States illegally.
Gamireya Gama was working Monday night at the Panaderia Bakery when Castillo allegedly walked in, pulled out a handgun and demanded money.
"He came in with a gun and he said turn off the cameras," said Gama through a translator.
Gama said Castillo fired one shot in the back of the business and another into the wall in the front of the store to convince her to hand over the cash.
"He went out the door. I locked the door and at the first opportunity I pressed the alarm," Gama said.
Police said Gama's co-worker ran out the back door and got into a wrestling match with the still-armed suspect outside the front door.
When officers got there, the co-worker yelled "pistol" in Spanish and cops pulled the two apart.
After his arrest, investigators said Castillo confessed. He told them he committed the crime to get food and money. Officers said he told them he fired the shots to show "he was serious."
Police said Castillo is also accused of shooting into a woman's car window Sunday night at the Saddlebrook Mobile Home Park and trying to rob her, but she got away.
Castillo is being held in the Dorchester County Jail. He is facing several charges, including attempted murder, armed robbery and possession of a weapon by an illegal immigrant.
Police plan to start deportation proceedings against him.
Ariz. law now bars havens for migrants
WEBSITE, PEARCE SAY TUCSON IS 1 SUCH SITE, BUT CITY HAS NO POLICY
Tim Steller Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 2:00 pm
When a federal judge blocked much of the state's new immigration law July 28, the law's author still celebrated a win.
Sen. Russell Pearce said U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton had left in place a top priority: a ban on "sanctuary city" policies in Arizona. As a result, state law now says cities and counties can't limit "the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law."
"The political handcuffs are coming off law enforcement," Pearce said in a written statement.
But it is arguable whether any Arizona cities were sanctuary cities when the law went into effect.
Asked by e-mail what cities in Arizona are "sanctuaries" for illegal immigrants, Pearce named four - Tucson, Phoenix, Mesa and Chandler - that are listed on a well-known Internet site. But all four cities let their officers call federal officials about suspected illegal immigrants and, therefore, seemingly conform to the new law.
Certainly, none fit the mold of San Francisco, perhaps the best-known sanctuary city. It has a 21-year-old ordinance banning city employees from cooperating with immigration investigations or spending city money on immigration inquiries.
Still, the new law has forced Tucson to change its policy on calling federal agencies to schools and churches. And it has likely prevented any future "sanctuary" policies from being adopted.
For Brian Livingston, executive director of the Arizona Police Association in Phoenix, that's valuable not just symbolically but in practice.
"For us, it was a victory, because now we've placed that tool in the officer's toolbox," he said.
Practice in effect already
Tucson police officers have had that tool for "many, many years," said Assistant Chief Brett Klein.
Indeed, it was put into use Monday in an incident caught on video and posted on the Internet.
That day, Jason Aragón of Pan Left Productions, a Tucson video artists group, recorded Tucson police citing a female driver for running a stop sign on North Fourth Avenue. The officers were suspicious of her immigration status and called the Border Patrol about the woman, 31-year-old Monica Trujillo.
An agent arrived, and she told him that her lawyer was just a couple of minutes away, bringing her valid visa, said Lynda Cruz, who was at the incident and works for Coalición de Derechos Humanos, a Tucson group. But the agent took her away just before the lawyer arrived, and she was held for several hours, Cruz said.
"SB 1070 is in full effect" declared the video.
But long-standing policy gives Tucson officers discretion in checking the immigration status of people whom they suspect are in the country illegally, and in calling federal authorities about them.
Tucson immigrant-rights activist Jennifer Allen opposed the Police Department's pre-1070 policy and scoffed at the idea of Tucson as a sanctuary city.
"It's not a generous policy by any means from our perspective," said Allen of the Border Action Network. "We've tried to change the Police Department's policies, trying to get stronger language separating immigration enforcement from local law enforcement."
Website names cities
The website often cited as an authority on sanctuary cities is run by Steve Salvi and the group he started, Ohio Jobs and Justice Political Action Committee.
There is no legal definition of a sanctuary city, he said. But his website describes it this way: "Generally, sanctuary policies instruct city employees not to notify the federal government of the presence of illegal aliens living in their communities."
Still, his website sometimes goes beyond that definition in listing individual cities. While many look to it as an authority because it is updated frequently and Salvi explains his listings, some people say their cities are unfairly labeled sanctuaries.
Leah Powell, a community resources officer for the city of Chandler, said Salvi put Chandler on his list after a 2006 Congressional Research Service report listed the city as a sanctuary. But he hasn't removed Chandler despite a 2007 amendment to the report, which removed the city.
"I've contacted them numerous times. I've sent them the 2007 report, and I don't get responses back," Powell said.
Salvi put Tucson on his list of sanctuary cities after reading a 2007 Arizona Daily Star story reporting a new Tucson police policy. That rule, stemming from an incident at Catalina Magnet High School, said police may not call federal immigration officers to schools or churches.
Officers were still allowed to call immigration authorities about people arrested at schools and churches, but not to meet them at those locations.
The new law makes such a policy illegal, and it has been eliminated, said Klein of the Tucson police.
de facto sanctuary
Salvi said certain cities' written policies may obscure reality.
"Some cities attempted to evade detection by having de facto policies," he said.
Those might come in the form of unwritten rules that the Border Patrol shouldn't be called, for example, or in establishing burdensome approval processes for calling federal agencies.
That's why the new law will be helpful to some officers, said Livingston, of the Arizona Police Association.
It prevents on-the-ground supervisors or top administrators from interfering with the rank-and-file officers' judgment, he said.
Police administrators, he said, "must bend to the will of the politicians who put them in their positions."
Now, he said, it's up to the officer to decide whether to call immigration officials, and "he can do that without interference."
ICE Raid Busts 19 Illegals
By Bob Grotenhuis - Producer
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - 5:40pm
EL PASO - ICE agents arrested 19 criminal aliens and seized police gear, weapons and fake documents in a four-day operation that began August 4.
It was the first such operation that occurred in El Paso and was supported by the New Mexico/West Texas “Alliance to Combat Transnational Threats” Unified Command.
ICE agents seized a .22-caliber Remington rifle, high-capacity gun magazine pouches, and police gear such as long expandable batons, ski masks, helmets and gun holsters.
During the operation, agents discovered fraudulent immigration documents and Texas identification cards, and some marijuana seeds in a home in the 3500 block of Oasis Drive.
ICE officers and agents worked in teams with other federal agents from the ICE Office of Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol and Office of Field Operations (OFO).
As criminal aliens, the 19 who were arrested are also deportable.
Mass. Man Arrested In Bombing Probe To Remain Free
Aug 10, 2010 8:37 pm US/Eastern
Federal authorities don't believe a Boston-area man arrested in an investigation of the botched Times Square car bombing is tied to the case, his lawyer said Tuesday.
Attorney Saher Macarius spoke after a Boston immigration court judge allowed his client, Pir D. Khan, to remain free as he fights deportation. Macarius said it's obvious that the government wouldn't release Khan if it thought he had a role in the May 1 bombing attempt in New York.
"If he has any connection to the Times Square bombing, and they released him, I will sue the government," Macarius said.
Khan, of Watertown, was arrested on immigration charges in May, and authorities said Khan and two other men might have handled informal money transfers for Faisal Shahzad, who pleaded guilty in the bombing attempt. But Khan was suddenly released in July.
Macarius said his client never met Shahzad and was wrongly tied to the case because authorities learned he was planning to travel to Pakistan on the same route Shahzad took and they believed Shahzad had received money from Massachusetts.
"It's a mistake the government made," Macarius said. "I just wish as much as the government made huge publicity about his arrest, the government will come to the media and say, 'We were hasty in that decision.'"
Macarius said Khan has lived a productive life since arriving illegally from Pakistan in 1991, including marrying an American, and should be allowed to stay.
"He has done nothing wrong, no criminal record, and his departure will cause extreme and unusual hardship to his U.S. spouse," he said.
Immigration officers ask tough questions as system's gatekeepers
Applicants' futures in U.S. are riding on their answers in interviews
By Victor Manuel Ramos, Orlando Sentinel
9:02 p.m. EDT, August 10, 2010
The immigration applicants enter Officer Caraballo's office behind the glass wall. They raise their right hands and swear they will say nothing but the truth.
Caraballo asks for a photo ID, verifies the spellings of their names and enters the information into her computer forms.
Then the real questions start.
Caraballo — who asked that her first name be withheld because she's concerned about applicants contacting her outside work — starts firing away at St. Lucia native Hubert Xavier and his U.S.-born wife, Sakeena Bennett. Xavier is one of about 10 applicants she interviews on a typical day at the Orlando Field Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Bennett, 20, is petitioning for Xavier, 21, to stay in the U.S. as a legal resident. He has been living here on an expired tourist visa.
Caraballo has plenty of questions during the Tuesday interview: How did they meet? At a party, answers Bennett. Caraballo wants details. Bennett explains that they both went to a party at her cousin's house and started talking.
How did he know her cousin? Xavier says they were classmates at Jones High School.
Do you have children? Yes, he says. They have a son, Naushad, 9 months.
They show a recent photo taken with the smiling child. They laugh nervously when the officer asks for more photos and they don't have any.
Every weekday between 200 and 300 immigrants from nine Central Florida counties visit the 37,000-square-foot immigration field office. It opened two years ago in southeast Orlando as part of the agency's effort to reduce the backlog of people waiting for visa requests and citizen applications to be reviewed.
Those who qualify file their applications, go to interviews and — if they succeed — are ultimately sworn in as U.S. citizens during naturalization ceremonies held every Friday. The majority in Central Florida come from Haiti, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica and Venezuela, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics.
"I love Fridays," said Margaret Iglesias, field director of the Orlando immigration office and the child of Cuban immigrants herself. "We try to make their citizenship ceremonies special, and when I come into the room for those, I am the happiest person in the world no matter what else is happening that day because you only become a citizen once."
First, though, the immigrants have to get past the officers who are the gatekeepers of the U.S. immigration system. Immigrants wait for months —an improvement over a process that used to take years— until their forms, fees and documents are processed. They have to prove that their claimed relationships are legitimate. They have to answer questions about their moral character. And, in the case of citizenship applicants, they have to learn U.S. history and English to pass an oral test.
They also pay from hundreds to thousands of dollars in combined application and legal fees. But the officers, who spend weeks training in immigration law and learning to conduct interviews, determine who gets to stay.
"We look for people who might be harmful to this country because we don't want them stepping through," said Ely Borjal, an immigrant from the Philippines who oversees immigration officers at the Orlando office.
After immigrants meet the requirements, Borjal said, they will find a welcoming message from those very officers: "I tell immigrants that the only limit you have is yourself in this country and that no one will stop you from success if you do the right thing."
Back in the interview room, the officer learns that Xavier has been arrested once for driving without a license — a not- so-uncommon violation for people on expired visas who cannot get state-issued driver licenses. Xavier explains that he paid the fine and has not done it again.
The questions keep coming: Have you ever solicited a prostitute? Have you sold drugs? Are you part of a terrorist group? Have you ever been deported or removed from the U.S.? Have you ever had any type of visa other than a B-2? Do you plan on practicing polygamy? Do you intend to be a spy?
Xavier bursts out laughing, but Officer Caraballo is not amused.
So he straightens up in his chair and answers her question: "No, seriously. No."
Caraballo seems satisfied that they are a couple, but before Xavier gets her approval for permanent residency, the officer marks his file with a "request for evidence." By Thursday morning at 7:30, she wants certified proof from Orange County that his court case was closed.
Xavier, his wife, and their attorney leave with smiles. Xavier is just one step away from a so-called green card, which would put him on a path to citizenship.
He knows that this change could be significant: "I can get a job, take care of my son. I can go to school and hopefully become a firefighter some day."
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services figures show that on average, 15 percent of "adjustment status" petitions —which mostly involve people with expired visas — and 10 percent of citizenship requests are denied in Orlando.
Caraballo says she asks the hard questions and looks for inconsistencies or hesitation in the immigrants' answers because she takes her job seriously.
"My role is to follow the laws of the U.S., and at the same time I have the utmost respect for the people I interview," Caraballo says. "If I suspect it's marriage fraud, I will separate and confront them. … But you know your decision will affect this person, and if you are wrong you may be separating this family forever."
Friday, August 6, 2010
Meth-fueled chainsaw attack lays waste to trees
August 06, 2010
By Buffy Pollock
for the Mail Tribune
A Medford landscaper is in the Jackson County Jail after he took a chainsaw to trees on his property Thursday morning and then moved on to his west Medford neighbors' trees.
Palm Street resident Valentine Gomez-Romero told police he took methamphetamine and stayed up all night reading the Bible before using a chainsaw to cut down trees in his own yard, in the 600 block of Palm Street, then a half-dozen in his neighbors' front yards.
Police arrived at about 8 a.m. Thursday to find branches and at least one 40-foot tree strewn across Palm Street in what they said is a usually quiet neighborhood. When they tried to stop Gomez-Romero, they said, he took a swing at an officer and was wrestled to the ground and arrested.
By early afternoon, the neighborhood sported a series of fresh tree stumps and an immigration hold had been placed of the father of three, who was in jail almost as quickly as city officials had ordered cleanup and estimated damages at $5,000.
Gomez-Romero's wife Christina Gomez was called home from work by a neighbor who told her that her husband had "gone outside and just started cutting trees down." Gomez smoked a cigarette at her front door as her hands shook on Thursday morning.
She said the couple, who met four years ago and married last year, moved to the rental house in October and "just go to work and never even have anyone over."
Gomez, who left for work an hour before the incident, said her husband had been "reading the Bible every day" and had become increasingly depressed over his immigration status which had resulted in an expired license and vehicle tags after new, more stringent state motor vehicle requirements were implemented this year.
"I don't even know what happened," Gomez said through tears. "It was some crazy man on meth cutting down trees. That wasn't my husband.
"He's never been into drugs. Never even gotten a ticket until he got one for being expired. He's the best man I know. He works seven days a day and takes care of me and my kids. This isn't about drugs. It's about his immigration."
Medford Police Lt. Bob Hansen said police had reported no problems at the home prior to Thursday's incident.
Gomez Romero was being held on charges of first-degree criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. He was also placed on an immigration hold for allegedly being in the country illegally.
Gomez and her husband gave police permission to search the home, Hansen said, and no drugs were found.
Palm Street neighbor Jimmy Ulrey said he and his girlfriend, Breann Taylor, were alerted by the sounds of a chainsaw.
"I saw the guy come out with a chainsaw but I saw a Pacific Power truck so I didn't think anything of it until he came in (Ulrey's) yard and just started cutting the trees," Ulrey said.
"My girlfriend called 9-1-1 and the cop showed up and was just talking to him and he came at the cop. He went to kick him and the cop caught his foot and they started fighting. The cop was alone and I was starting across the street to make sure he was OK and I saw two more cars coming down the road."
Ulrey described the house across the street as "pretty busy" but said the couple had caused few problems for neighbors.
"If he was on drugs, we were lucky this was all that happened because my girlfriend was standing pretty close, yelling at him to knock it off. He looked up at her one time but kept on cutting," Ulrey said, adding that Gomez-Romero's background as a landscaper may have prevented the episode from ending up even worse.
"He obviously knew what he was doing because if he didn't know how to cut down trees they could have landed the wrong way and maybe hit the house or hurt someone."
Hansen said the unusual nature of the crime was not surprising given that meth use appeared to be involved.
"Unfortunately, when people use meth or cocaine, you never know what's going to happen," Hansen said.
"This time, only property was damaged and no person was hurt, but they could very well have been."
Gomez-Romero and one officer suffered minor injuries, while a second officer sustained more significant knee injuries. All three were treated and released at local hospitals.
New Arrests At Cobb Courthouse Construction Site
Posted: 6:10 am EDT August 6, 2010
COBB COUNTY, Ga. -- Two men helping to construct a new Cobb County courthouse were arrested Thursday, the second time this week the sheriff’s office jailed workers at the site.
The sheriff’s office said it started background checks on more than 700 workers at the construction site after a watchdog group contacted them about possible undocumented workers hired for the job.
New Arrests At Cobb Courthouse Construction Site
Deputies arrested Lambert Williams, 31, for failure to pay child support, and Ray Lee Roberts, 29, for violating probation.
The group “Jobs For Georgians” said concern about illegal immigrants at the work site prompted their complaint. “We got a ton of calls through Jobs for Georgians saying this project is going on, we want to know why we can't get on it,” said John Ciancia.
Sheriff Neil Warren told Channel 2 Action News he has a responsibility to make sure the site is safe and secure, and his office had completed more than half of the 717 background checks.
Ciancia told Channel 2’s Sean Callebs his group has talked to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and checks at the Cobb site could become a statewide model for taking on illegal immigration, and to find people running from the law.
“I am satisfied with the sheriff taking on, and doing the checks. I know they are at the gates now, and they are doing a second round of checks. I think its paying off,” said Ciancia
“It's not just undocumented, it's checking everybody. I think it needs to be done all over the state of Georgia. I think we need more of this,” Ciancia told Callebs.
The sheriff said it made sense to run the background checks before construction of a new catwalk that connects the new construction to the existing judicial center.
ARRESTS AND SUMMONSES [7th item]
Friday, August 6, 2010
Authorities made the following arrests and issued summonses from 7 a.m. Aug. 5 to 7 a.m. Aug. 6
Gerardo Ayala Lagunas, 29, of Columbia, immigration detainer, no bond set; possession of a controlled substance, $4,500 bond.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Chaffeur Arrested with 4 illegal immigrants
Ronald Eric Pedgett was arrested by Border Patrol elements at the checkpoint on mile marker 29 and highway 35.
Thursday, August 05, 2010
By: Laredo Sun
LAREDO, Tx.- A South Carolina chaffeur was sent to jail on federal charges of human smuggling. Ronald Eric Pedgett was arrested by Border Patrol elements at the checkpoint on mile marker 29 and highway 35.
This person was driving a tractor trailer and while being interrogated by federal agents, he seemed very nervous and was sent to secondary.
The driver told authorities he was coming from Weslaco, Texas and was headed to Henderson, North Carolina.
When officials opened the trailer they found 4 persons underneath a matress and all of them declared being from Mexico.
Immigration authorities raid Poplar Bluff Chinese restaurant
Thursday, August 5, 2010 ~ Updated 11:43 AM
By Michelle Friedrich ~ Daily American Republic
POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Immigration authorities arrested at least five individuals employed at a Poplar Bluff restaurant Wednesday morning as part of an ongoing criminal work-site enforcement operation.
Just after 10 a.m., agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could be seen entering and exiting the China Buffet Mongolian Grill in the Mansion Mall Marketplace, as well as a residence at 2808 Virginia Ave., the Daily American Republican newspaper reported.
The owner(s) of Mongolian Grill, which opened on Oct. 8, 2006, reportedly live on Virginia Avenue in Karmen Estates. The business license on file with the Poplar Bluff City Clerk lists Hua Huang as the owner as of June 2009.
"Agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) are executing federal search warrants in the Poplar Bluff area as part of an ongoing criminal worksite enforcement operation," said Gail Montenegro with the ICE Office of Public Affairs in Chicago, Ill.
By 11:30 a.m., three men and two women were led out the back of the restaurant in handcuffs and put into a white van.
According to Montenegro, the enforcement operation is ongoing, and no further information could be released initially.
As ICE agents continued working inside, officers with the Poplar Bluff Police Department were manning the restaurant's front door Wednesday morning to turn customers away.
Mom plans to sue Tavares for arrest following wet t-shirt at children's park
By Martin E. Comas, Orlando Sentinel
2:56 p.m. EDT, August 5, 2010
TAVARES — When Janet Lovett took her 7-year-old son to the city's Splash Park this spring, she never thought police would slap handcuffs on her and haul her off to the Lake County Jail after her T-shirt and bra became wet.
Lovett was arrested because she refused to give an officer her name after she was told to cover up. She was booked on a misdemeanor count of obstructing an officer without violence. However, the State Attorney's Office declined to file charges.
Last week, the 36-year-old Eustis homemaker informed Tavares that she intends to sue the city for malicious prosecution, false arrest, battery and violation of her civil rights in connection with the flap at Wooton Park.
"She was minding her own business," Winter Park attorney Howard Marks, who is representing Lovett, said today. "She was taking her child to a splash park and then winds up five hours in jail. That's a bad day."
Lovett brought on the arrest herself, according to Tavares police Chief Stoney Lubins.
"She was not arrested for anything she was wearing," Lubins said. "The officer just wanted her name and she refused…And she was warned she could be arrested."
On April 24, Lovett kicked off her shoes and joined her son at the Splash Park, which had just recently opened for its first full season. But after her T-shirt and bra became soaked, parents complained to a park employee that the see-through shirt was "offensive," according to a police report.
It's not clear why authorities were called, but park employees told police it was the third time in recent days that Lovett was asked to leave the park because of a wet T-shirt. The $500,000 attraction, which opened in August 2009, features water spouting from pretend animals, cattails and a "seaplane."
Lovett referred questions to Marks, who said his client wrapped a towel around herself and was approached by a Tavares police officer who asked her for her name as she was walking out of the park on the north shore of Lake Dora.
Cpl. Tammy Bozadjian said she needed Lovett's name to put into a city database.
"The defendant [Lovett] became upset and would not provide her information," Bozadjian wrote in the incident report. "I again explained that the information was only for the data base. She again refused to provide the information, stating that she needed to speak with her husband first. I then informed the defendant that if she refused to provide her information that she would be placed under arrest."
Lovett then gave only her first name, questioning the officer why she should also give her last name, too.
Bozadjian tried to place handcuffs on the mother, but she pulled back, according to the report. The officer folded her left arm behind her back.
"I was then able to successfully place her in handcuffs," Bozadjian wrote.
Meanwhile, her husband, Jeff Lovett, watched his wife being arrested while standing outside the park fence.
Marks said police had no legal justification for demanding that Lovett tell the officer her name because there was no evidence she committed or was about to commit a crime.
"What kind of database would they put her in? A database for wet T-shirt wearers?" Marks asked. "She wasn't there to cause trouble…They're either absolutely incompetent or they don't know the law."
Lubins said police asked for her name because they were called out to the park and told that she had been warned before about her attire.
"We would be remiss if we didn't take down her name," he said.
Marks, however, said he wondered if police wanted Lovett's name because they suspected the Peruvian native may be an illegal immigrant. Lovett, a nursing student, has lived in the United States for 15 years and is now an American citizen, the attorney said.
According to the letter sent to Tavares, Lovett also may claim monetary and punitive damages from the city for the amount she spent on legal fees and medical bills for bruises and marks on her arms following her arrest.
Feds Bus Raids Anger Businesses, Community
Bus Depots Raided Thursday By Border Agents
POSTED: 3:24 pm PDT August 3, 2010
LAS VEGAS -- Border protection officers said transportation sites, such as bus depots, are a means for criminals to enter the U.S. illegally.
On Thursday, federal agents raided bus depots looking for human smuggling operations, such as the transfer of illegal alien immigrants, narcotics and other contraband, officials said. Agents arrested 31 people, including 12 who had prior criminal or immigration history, officials said.
"It is completely within our authority in a public setting to request documentation proving citizenship in a consensual encounter," said Kelly Rose Ivahnenko, of Customs and Border Protection. "The bus depot is a public area. Again, transportation hubs are a key conduit for smuggling organizations to transport people and contraband further into the United States, which is why we specifically work to disrupt these illicit activities on a routine basis."
But business owners, such as Emmanuel Corrales, owner of Las Vegas Shuttles, said he is opposed to feds enforcing laws based on how people look.
"It makes you feel very sad, looking at your clientele being harassed," Corrales said. "I don't mind showing proof of citizenship when crossing the border."
Community activist Vicenta Montoya said she is outraged by the federal agents' raids on bus depots last week.
"It intimidates the community and makes it fearful," she said.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Detained man lost in shuffle; illegal immigrant's family left worried
James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Posted: 08/01/2010 07:02:54 AM PDT
When Freddy, an illegal immigrant and day laborer, was arrested by immigration officers in San Bernardino, it took his family nearly a week to find out where he'd been taken.
Socorro Qui ones of Central City Lutheran Mission in San Bernardino said several organizations were looking for Freddy before they learned he was in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in New Mexico.
"I feel very bad because we depend on his work," said Freddy's wife, Rubi, through a translator. Their last names are being withheld because Rubi, also an illegal immigrant, fears reprisal from immigration officials. "I don't know what to do with my little children."
Rubi said it's hard to have Freddy behind bars, but it was harder not to know where he was.
On July 23, a few days after Freddy's arrest, ICE officials - who have said they want the agency to be more transparent and humane - launched a new online system to let families track the location of loved ones who have been detained. ICE spokeswoman Gillian Brigham says detainees should be in the system within 20 minutes of being booked, but that wasn't the case for Freddy, and immigration advocates say it's not the case for most ICE detainees.
Rubi said Freddy was arrested on the morning of July 21. That afternoon, she received a call from him, saying he was at an ICE office in San Bernardino.
The following day, Rubi said she went to see him and to drop off clothes for him, but ICE officials told her Freddy was not there.
"They didn't give me any information about him," Rubi said. "They denied he was there."
The following Monday, she got another call from Freddy, but it was only one minute long. It wasn't until the following day, when Rubi received a call from the wife of a man who was detained with Freddy, that Rubi learned her husband's location: an ICE detention facility in Charparral, N.M., about 30 miles northeast of El Paso, Texas.
"Immigration doesn't give you any information," Rubi said. "The girls are the ones who are suffering. They ask me every day for him." She said both daughters are U.S. citizens.
Emilio Amaya, who commonly helps San Bernardino- area residents find loved ones who have been detained by ICE, said this case is not unique.
Before ICE's online detainee locator system, he said it could take as long as three weeks to find information about a detained immigrant. The locator, he said, has cut down time, but it's still not perfect.
"It takes two to three days to get any information on the locator," said Amaya, executive director of the San Bernardino Community Service Center. "In the meantime, they're pretty much in limbo. ... They don't exist. You call and they have not been processed and you have no access to them."
Brigham said that shouldn't be the case. The new system, she said, should list a detainee's information about 20 minutes after the detainee is processed and within eight hours after a detainee has been transferred. She added, though, that the system is new and that ICE employees have just started using it.
"As with any new system that's just been implemented, it may take a while to get the kinks out," she said.
Two or three days down from two or three weeks is a big improvement, Amaya said, but it still means detainees are denied access to legal help for several days.
"For a time, three to seven days, neither family members nor attorneys have access to people who are detained," Amaya said. "By the time they have access to an attorney, they could have already signed a voluntary removal or have given information that is self-incriminating."
And in cases like Freddy's, in which detainees are transferred out of state, it's even more difficult for detainees to get legal help. He said some detainees from San Bernardino have been transferred to ICE facilities in Florida.
Brigham said ICE will soon be announcing a new detainee transfer policy.
"If a detainee has family members in a certain area and has access to counsel in a certain area, we acknowledge it would be better for them to be detained in an area close to them," Brigham said. "We're going to be more thoughtful and more deliberate about where we're going to house a particular detainee."
Mistaken Identity Causes Farmer 5 Months in Jail
Palm Beach police kept the wrong Julio Gomez in jail for five months
By TODD WRIGHT
Updated 3:17 PM EDT, Tue, Aug 3, 2010
Cases of mistaken identity don't get much worse than what happened to Julio Gomez.
The migrant worker has spent the past five months in jail, accused of murdering a man in Palm Beach County.
But he was released recently after prosecutors and police detectives finally decided to listen to the man when he said, "You have got the wrong guy."
Gomez wasn't lying.
Police were actually looking for another Julio Gomez, who was also 25-years old, but born on a different date, the Palm Beach Post reported.
The mix up occurred because farmer Gomez is an illegal immigrant and didn't have any documentation proving his date of birth. Add to that a witness to the Palm Beach murder told police after seeing a photo of Gomez that he was the right guy, and you have all the makings of mistaken ID.
But while police stopped looking for a killer, the real violent criminal was still on the loose.
In reality, farmer Gomez had never been to West Palm Beach, where police claimed he had killed Maciel Martin Videla in 2008. Gomez worked in Hardee County since 2004 and sent money back to his family in Mexico.
He was arrested in February in Hardee for driving without a license and that's when Hardee County authorities saw a warrant for the other Gomez's arrest.
He tried to tell authorities that he was born on March 15, 1985 and the guy they were looking for was born on Dec. 20, 1984, but no one would listen.
"All this happened just because that guy and I had the same name," Gomez told the Palm Beach Post.
It took five months for defense attorneys and a private investigator to prove to police they had the wrong guy. Investigators don't think it's their fault the man was stuck in jail for five months.
And to add insult to injury, farmer Gomez is probably going to be deported because of his undocumented status. That would also likely mean he can't sue the police department for keeping him imprisoned.