A Father's Last Words from Mexico: Stay
Just weeks after her father died alone in Puebla, undocumented dreamer Adriana joined hundreds of immigrant activists at a rally with Congressman Luis Gutierrez to end deportations like the one that destroyed her family.
By Sonja Sharp | April 29, 2011
Idling on a chartered bus at St. Joachim's Catholic Church, that one word echoed in Adriana's* thoughts. Among the hundreds terms she'd reviewed for her three AP tests and volumes of vocabulary she'd memorized for her looming battery college entrance exams, it was that word that had decided everything.
She studied the sparkles in her neon green manicure, recalling the most difficult decision of her young life.
"It was all too fast," she said, compressing the imaginary months between her hands. "Too soon."
It's been almost a year since Adriana, 16, saw her father for the last time. Weeks since she last listened to him repeat the word, even as his voice grew too weak to hear, even when it broke her heart to hear it.
Stay, her father had pleaded with her, even as she, her five-year-old sister and her mother were packing their bags to join him in Atlimeyaya, the small town outside Atlixco in the south central Mexican state of Puebla where he lay dying.
Stay, he implored them, knowing that leaving would mean turning their backs on the country they had loved and dreamed of, where his eldest daughter would soon head to college, and where his youngest was a citizen.
The bus pulled out onto Heseperian Boulevard, en route to Fruitvale, where Adriana would join hundreds of immigrant activists from Richmond to Union City who had come for a Thursday night tent revival with Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), currently on a whistle-stop tour of the country to demand "administrative relief" for America's immigration system.
Murkier than actual legislative reform, administrative relief would require some legal maneuvering within Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or an executive order from the President. But there's no horse-trading or last-minute vote switching involved.
"The president already has the power to do this," Gutierrez said. "He has the authority and the discretion."
It's a far cry from the broad immigration reform promised on the campaign trail in 2008. But in the face of so many failures, it's something.
The DREAM Act, a bill that would have offered a path to citizenship to undocumented students who entered the United States illegally as children passed the House, only to die in the Senate in December.
And Secure Communities, a two-year-old federal immigration program intended to streamline the deportation of "serious criminal aliens," is widely loathed. It's critics say it's succeeded mainly in creating a culture of fear among immigrants like Adriana and her family, who know its power all too well.
"I just want everybody to understand what the federal government says Secure Communities is about," Gutierrez said. "The president is telling us that the people that they’re deporting are narcotraficantes, killers, criminals."
Certainly, tens of thousands of those deported under the program—known colloquially as S-Comm—fit that description.
But tens of thousands more do not.
It was S-Comm that snatched Adriana's father from his family on his way home from work one night, despite the fact that, like nearly 30,000 others across the country who have been deported under its auspices, he was never convicted of a crime.
It happens like this:
In late spring of last year, Adriana's parents were driving home from the restaurant they cleaned together in East Palo Alto when they were stopped by police for a broken tail light on their pick-up.
Because her father was driving without a license, he was detained and his fingerprints taken.
Because San Mateo County had recently joined Secure Communities, which rolled out across California counties last year, that data was rerouted to ICE.
Because he had spent the past decade living in the United States without papers, ICE database registered a hit.
By the time his family heard from him again, he'd already been deported. According to the most recent data available from the agency, about a third of the time that's just how it goes.
In California, where more than a third of all S-Comm deportations begin, almost 10,000 of the 35,600 immigrants removed under the program had no criminal record. Nationwide, that figure is 27,000 out of 94,000.
Locally, the numbers are similar. In Alameda County, 253 of the 625 people deported under Secure Communities since it debuted here a little over a year ago were listed as non-criminals. In San Mateo County, where Adriana’s father was picked up, 53 of 247 people deported fell into that category.
Despite loud protest of the program from Bay Area law enforcement agencies, San Francisco and Contra Costa counties lead the nation in non-criminal removals.
After the rally, the Hayward/Cherryland contingent milled about in the gathering dark, browsing the small cluster of snack carts that had bloomed like dandelions in the concrete courtyard.
Several eyed the elotes, but settled on a bag of pinwheels. Adriana and her mother shared a bag of chips.
For a while, the removal turned Adriana's life upside down. Her grades tumbled, and her five-year-old sister wept inconsolably. Her mother agonized over how they would eat.
The three lost their home and floated between relatives, eventually settling in with another family split across the Mexican/America border. For the first time any of them could remember, they celebrated Christmas without their father.
And then things went from bad to worse. Late that winter, Adriana's father developed a persistent cough. When her mother nagged him to go to the hospital, they discovered that he had advanced stomach cancer. In early spring, knowing he would die, they made the impossible decision to leave, and then the even more impossible decision to stay.
"I told him to stay strong and keep fighting," Adriana said of her last conversation with her father, the night before he died. "He said he was tired. I think maybe he knew he was going to die."
But like the many young people who spoke at the rally, she'd pushed on.
Recently, she made it to the third round of selection for the Level Playing Field Institute's Summer Math and Science Honors Academy, a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to study at Stanford for the summer, for free.
Next month, she'll discover whether she was accepted. The month after, she'll take the SAT and start making plans for college.
"I'm really determined," Adriana said. "If anything, I would want to make my dad proud."
Editor's Note: Because of the immigrant status of Adriana and her family, several identifying details have been omitted from this story.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
A Father's Last Words from Mexico: Stay
Apr 30, 2011 02:08AM
Immigration arrest: Yeni Silva, 26, of 3710 W. Grandville Ave., Waukegan, was arrested after being stopped for speeding on Milwaukee Avenue near Maple Street. Police learned she had a warrant for failing to appear at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement hearing for removal from the United States, police said. She was also cited for driving without a license and insurance.
Cops: 'Thief' stole property deposits
By LYDA LONGA, STAFF WRITER
April 30, 2011 12:05 AM
An Ormond Beach woman already serving 10 years probation for Medicaid fraud was nabbed by Holly Hill police Friday after investigators said she bilked at least eight people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy or rent her Holly Hill assisted living facility.
Vidya Bhoolai, 47, of Ormond Beach, was arrested at her home in another scam involving her property at 700 Daytona Ave., said Holly Hill Police Chief Mark Barker.
Bhoolai was convicted of Medicaid fraud in 2006 and sentenced to 10 years' probation for filing false claims for residents of the assisted living facility. Investigators learned that the residents she filed claims for either never existed or that they did not stay at the facility long enough. As a result, Bhoolai was also ordered to reimburse Medicaid $60,000.
But the decade-long probation did not discourage Bhoolai from her criminal enterprise, Barker said.
According to documents released by investigators -- Holly Hill police was assisted by the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor which will take the case to trial -- Bhoolai and cohorts Steven Sahadath and Krishna Bholai, "engaged in a systematic and ongoing criminal enterprise with the intent and design to defraud multiple victims through the use of false and fraudulent business practices, pretenses, schemes, and willful misrepresentations of material facts."
Barker said Bhoolai entered into lease or sale agreements with people who wanted to invest in the assisted living facility; she took a variety of down payments, deposits or fees from her eight victims.
"Vidya Bhoolai is truly a master thief," Barker said Friday. "That's how she makes her living. She defrauded these people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Among the worst hit were Jose Formosa of Holly Hill who lost about $50,000 to Bhoolai; Prony and Arminia Enriquez of New Jersey who lost just over $17,000 and Satnarine Pundit of Port Orange who lost about $20,000.
In the case of Formosa, he agreed to purchase the assisted living facility from Bhoolai for $250,000 in 2005. He paid her a $50,000 down payment. Bhoolai then offered to help Formoso obtain state licenses from the Agency for Health Care Administration to operate the facility, police said. But when Formoso was ready to submit his application to the state agency, Bhoolai told him to hold off because the house was going to be inspected by the Department of Children & Families over a client's death.
The suspect then convinced Formoso to relinquish operation of the facility to her.
When Formoso attempted to contact Bhoolai repeatedly in early 2005 to determine whether he could send the application, she was nowhere to be found, detectives said. When the victim went to the facility he was kicked off the property by a woman identified as Bhoolai's mother, investigators said.
Even though Formoso hired an attorney, he never got his money back because Bhoolai filed for bankruptcy protection, police said.
Prony and Arminia Enriquez of Montvale, N.J., meanwhile, were eager to purchase an assisted living facility and were introduced to Bhoolai via a real estate agent in November 2008, police said. They agreed to purchase the property for $300,000 contingent on their ability to get financing, investigators said.
The couple agreed to give Bhoolai an advance deposit of $15,000 that was supposed to be credited to their account at closing. Arminia Enriquez gave Bhoolai three checks totaling more than $17,000 toward the down payment for the facility, police said.
When it became evident that the Enriquezes were not going to get financing, the deal fell through and Bhoolai refused to return the payments, investigators said.
A real estate agent who had worked with the couple told police that Bhoolai said the Enriquezes "didn't deserve" to have the money returned, detectives said.
As for Pundit, he told detectives that he was approached by Bhoolai in August 2009 concerning a business proposition. Bhoolai told him about operating an assisted living facility on Daytona Avenue. Agreeing, Punduit paid Bhoolai roughly $20,000 over the next four months for repairs to the site, licensing application fees, rental down payments and other start-up costs, police said.
But investigators said Bhoolai used it for her own purposes. Pundit filed a complaint against Bhoolai with the state Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, police said.
It was Pundit's case that brought Bhoolai's continuing criminal activities to the attention of Holly Hill investigators. Lt. James Malcolm of the Medicaid fraud unit's Orlando bureau notified Holly Hill investigators of Bhoolai's activities in April 2009, police said. The other victims then began to surface, police said.
Bhoolai, Sahadath, 42, and Bholai, 43, are each charged with nine felonies that include racketeering, grand theft and fraudulent use of personal identification, record show.
A hold has been placed on them by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents because there are questions surrounding their immigration status in this country, Barker said. Bhoolai's sons Kahleel and Kennedy Kalipersad were also picked up on Friday by ICE agents, Barker said.
The suspects all hail from Trinidad, Barker said.
Immigration Debate Sparked When LDS Church Branch President Arrested
April 30, 2011 By God Discussion Reporter
The immigration debate has erupted in a small branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (also known as the LDS Church or Mormon church).
Felix Callejas and his wife and children were arrested by immigration agents who were determined to deport them. The family is from El Salvador.
The 53-year-old Spanish-speaking Callejas was president of a small Spanish-speaking LDS branch in Draper. Some members have become afraid to go to the church.
In 2008 and 2009, the family had been arrested for deportation and appealed. Their appeal was dismissed earlier this month and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says that they have been living in the United States illegally.
There has been a growing divide in the LDS Church over immigration. Conservatives say that the law is the law, regardless of whether an illegal immigrant is a church leader.
The LDS Church issued a statement:
This case reminds us all of the need to address immigration reform. As we have stated, we believe any solution should include the following three principles:
* The commandment to "love thy neighbor."
* The importance of keeping families intact.
* The federal government's obligation to secure its border.
Since October 2010, ICE has removed approximately 3200 people from Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Montana.
It is believed that there are two other Callejas family members in the United States, one who is in college and the other serving a mission for the LDS Church. Of the family members in Utah, the 18-year-old daughter, 19-year-old son and mother of the family have been released and supervised while the ICE makes arrangements for their deportation. Felix Callejas remains in a Utah county jail. The family says that they are grateful for the support that they have received from their branch of the church and for the opportunities that they had while in America.
UC honor student faces deportation
2:56 PM, Apr. 30, 2011
Written by Mark Curnutte
A University of Cincinnati student, described by an administrator as having once-in-a-decade talent in information technology, faces a May 20 hearing in immigration court in Buffalo, N.Y., that could lead to his deportation.
Elier Lara, 19, was brought to the United States legally at age 4 from Mexico by his parents. They overstayed their 180-day non-immigrant visa. If deported, Lara would face a 10-year ban before being allowed to reapply for entry.
People across the country are working to prevent his removal. They include a law professor at the University of Texas and several of her law students, an immigration lawyer in Buffalo, family members and supporters at UC and Ross High School.
Lara, a 2010 graduate of Ross High School, was arrested at Buffalo Niagara International Airport nearly a year ago - May 27, 2010 - when he tried to board a flight to Cincinnati. He had been able to fly to Buffalo on a student identification card with a Ross teacher and three classmates for a national entrepreneurial competition. U.S. Border Patrol agents plucked him from a security line when he could not produce a government-issued ID.
Agents scanned his body and finger-printed him before his release.
"I couldn't help but tear up when I talked to my dad,'' Lara said. "I was more worried about my parents at the time."
Lara's attorneys are trying to prevent a deportation order. They have asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in Buffalo for deferred-action status.
If Lara receives deferred-action status, the prosecutor and defense attorney could file a joint motion with the immigration judge that removal proceedings end. With deferred-action status, Lara would be eligible for an employment authorization card and Social Security number, required for a driver's license. Such status is renewable annually.
His attorneys say Lara, who volunteers in a computer lab and has no criminal record, should benefit from "prosecutorial discretion" called for by federal immigration officials in 2000 and 2007 to make best use of financial and personnel resources.
Created in 2003 as part of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE enforces federal criminal and civil laws that govern border control, customs, trade and immigration, including the removal of illegal immigrants.
Contacted about Lara, an ICE spokesman said Friday the agency could not comment on an individual's pending case.
Lara, an honor student in math and science, has a plan, regardless of his outcome.
"I will finish college, get a job and support my family - no matter where I am," he told the Enquirer in an interview at his family's Butler County home. "I would like to stay here. It would be easier to finish my bachelor's in two years and then get my master's."
Lara's work ethic, volunteerism and academic strengths in science and math would help his adoptive country compete where it has fallen behind other nations, the lawyer said.
"This is a very good kid," said Matthew Kolken, the immigration attorney in Buffalo who took Lara's case pro bono less than two weeks ago. "He already is an asset to this country."
Lara was brought to the United States at age 4 in 1996 from the northern Mexico border state of Tamaulipas. Today, it is a site of violence and murder related to the Mexican government's crackdown on drug cartels.
Lara has a younger brother and sister, both U.S.-born citizens. The family is considering several options if Elier is forced to leave the country, mostly choices that would split the family.
"I would not know which of my children to stay with," his mother said through an interpreter. "Do I get on a plane with my oldest child and leave my youngest two here? Do I just let my oldest child go and stay with the younger ones?
"I do know where they would send him that he would be killed."
Lara's parents say they have tried legal means to gain status. On April 27, 2001, Lara's uncle, a U.S. citizen, filed a petition on behalf of citizenship for Lara's father, an undocumented immigrant who works as a laborer.
The filing provides no relief, status or protection. It simply puts Lara's father in a line for Mexican immigrants attempting to gain U.S. citizenship. Petitions are back-logged to February 1996. Globally, 65,000 of these sibling-oriented petitions are granted each year.
Lara graduated with a 3.8 grade point average from Ross. His class rank was 11 of 220. He scored 31 on the ACT standardized college entrance exam.
"Elier's ambition, motivation and leadership abilities are an inspiration to everyone he encounters," said Thomas O'Neill, an instructor in computers and information technology who was with him at the Buffalo airport. "His cognitive abilities are to be envied. His character traits are to be emulated."
Lara entered his current term at UC with a 3.8 GPA and will end his first year on campus with 78 credit hours. He started with 34 hours earned in advanced placement high school courses.
A longtime UC administrator and former professor, Cheryll Dunn, predicted Lara's success in an endorsement letter written in November.
"I have worked with thousands of students over the past 30 years, and Elier Lara is that student who comes along every 10 years or so who makes your heart sing," wrote Dunn, a former associate dean in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
For his part, Lara has dealt with his uncertain future - even before his arrest in Buffalo - by committing himself to his studies. Unable to work legally without immigration status, he formed a computer repair company with some classmates.
He lives at home and, without a driver's license, rides a Metro bus to and from UC.
Lara is one of an estimated 65,000 students without immigration status who graduate from U.S. high schools each year. There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, as many as 60,000 - mostly Hispanics - without status in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
Young people brought here without a say as dependent children were the focus of failed federal Dream Act legislation, passed by the House but defeated in the Senate in December. The legislation would provide them a narrow path to legal U.S. residency and naturalization through academic achievement or military service.
Dream Act supporters keep pushing the bill.
The most recent version of the Dream Act would apply only to immigrants brought to the country before age 16. They would have to have lived in the United States for more than five years and have to be under age 30 when the bill becomes law. A 10-year probationary period would need to be met before the granting of a green card. Another three years would have to pass before a person would be eligible for naturalization. One felony or three misdemeanor convictions disqualifies an applicant.
In a letter dated April 13, top Democrat senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Harry Reid of Nevada asked President Obama to suspend deportations of students who would have benefited from Dream Act legislation. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) is a co-sponsor.
Lara would benefit from passage and would be able to continue his education uninterrupted at UC, which admitted him as an international student. His father pays the tuition in cash, about $25,000 a year, compared to a little more than $10,000 for an in-state, Ohio student.
Lara frets the cost, yet his father, a former school administrator in Mexico, tells his son, "Just worry about sleeping, eating and studying."
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Immigration agents arrest nine roofers in Hiawatha
Posted April 27, 2011 1:15 pm by Jeff Raasch/SourceMedia Group News
In Hiawatha, ICE agents arrested nine roofers on the jobsite on Wednesday, April 27. ICE agents took custody around 8:00 am after the laborers had completed a significant portion of their work at 880 Wolf Ridge Rd. The individuals detained y ICE were hired by a sub-contractor for Eastern Iowa Construction, according to EIC President Jeremy Bleeker, who told reporters that the employees were unable to provide "proper documentation" upon request. Mr. Bleeker went on to state that the individuals had the appropriate records at home. He indicated that as the general contractor, EIC had no right to that information.
EIC underwent an I-9 audit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement 9 months earlier, and had no problems. Mr. Bleeker said that the raid was unexpected.
According to an article by Jeff Raasch at SourceMedia Group News (click link above for entire article),
“Either (the ICE agents) know something we don’t know, or they’re crossing over into really dangerous ground,” Bleeker said.
He said some of his employees get discriminated against because of their nationality, but have been citizens for several years.
“I hope we don’t jump to judgment too quickly here,” Bleeker said.
For more information, click here.
North Royalton Police Blotter
Published: Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 12:30 PM
By Sun News staff
NO DRIVER’S LICENSE, RIDGE ROAD: A patrolman was dispatched at 3:45 p.m. April 15 to the area of Ridge and Edgerton roads in response to a possible intoxicated motorist.
A caller phoned in to report a white 1995 Dodge van almost hit two vehicles head on. The van was located and the driver presented an international driver’s license in the name of a Parma man who owned the van. He also presented a passport from the Republica de El Salvador issued in Chicago.
His male passenger presented a driver’s license. Dispatch advised that there was no way of running an international license to check immigration status.
Dispatch contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement who could not share the driver’s immigration status over the telephone.
The driver was taken into custody for no operator’s license and cited. He was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on April 18. The passenger was valid and allowed to leave the scene.
ARRESTS AND SUMMONSES
Columbia Daily Tribune
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Authorities made the following arrests and issued summonses from 7 a.m. April 26 to 7 a.m. April 27.
COLUMBIA POLICE DEPARTMENT
Trinidad Garcia-Maldonado, 28, of 5908 N. Kent Drive, resisting arrest, $4,500 bond, immigration detainer, second-degree assault of an officer, no bond set
Area Police Reports
April 28, 2011
NEW YORK STATE POLICE
ELLICOTT - Wilfredo Lopez, 24, of Sinclairville was charged with a federal felony of being an illegal immigrant on Sunday at 7:13 p.m. on Route 60 in Ellicott. He was released to a third party.
April 28, 2011
By Nick Curcuru Staff Writer
A Gloucester man is being held by police at the request of federal immigration officials.
According to police reports Adriano A. Quintanilla, 25, of 51 Main St., Gloucester, was in court Wednesday morning for a traffic violation hearing when police learned he was flagged by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Police contacted federal authorities and were told to detain him.
Joe Arpaio's Latest Illegal Immigrant Roundup Nets a Whopping Four Arrests
By James King, Tue., Apr. 26 2011 @ 4:29PM
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's boys in beige raided a Valley business this morning in search of illegal immigrants using fake IDs in order to work -- again. The result: a whopping four arrests.
About 9:30 a.m., sheriff's deputies "swarmed" the Allied Tube Company near 27th Avenue and Thomas Road in search of "false documentations for working status" after receiving a tip over a year ago that the company had illegal immigrants working there.
Two of the four arrests were made at the business, two were made at the homes of the alleged undocumented workers, and two more are being sought by authorities, the sheriff's office says.
The busts come a day after a federal judge ruled that Arpaio violated the constitutional rights of two men he arrested during a similar raid in 2009. In that case, the two "illegals" turned out to be U.S. citizens who hadn't broken any laws.
Read about that little mishap here.
It should also be noted that America's self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff" stole "misspent" nearly $100 million in taxpayer money over the past eight years on funding for raids similar to this one.
Maricopa County officials started reviewing the sheriff's spending habits about six months ago when budget officials and members of the Board of Supervisors -- with whom Arpaio doesn't exactly have the rosiest relationship -- suspected him of using money designated to fund detention facilities to pay for pet projects, such as rounding up illegal immigrants working at places like the Burlington Coat Factory and Pei Wei restaurants, or tailing county supervisors and judges as part of his public-corruption stings.
But hey, what's $100 million, right?
Latino group targets Hammond police for contacting feds during arrest
City’s Top Cop denies claim
by Michael Puente
Apr. 27, 2011
An official with a national Latino civil rights group worries that a recent arrest of an illegal immigrant means a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment has reached into the northwest corner of Indiana, an area considered much more diverse than the rest of the state.
The group fears Latinos in Hammond may be targeted by police at the same time Hoosier lawmakers consider a watered-down immigration bill.
“You have an area of our country, Indiana, where there’s a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment today and the introduction of an anti-immigrant bill,” said Julie Contreras, a Chicago area resident who deals with immigration for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). “We do not want our community to be profiled inside of Hammond, Indiana, or any part of Indiana.”
Contreras’ ire was sparked after the April 15 arrest of a 22-year-old illegal immigrant, Pedro Herrera Robles of Calumet City, Illinois, a city that’s across the state line from Hammond, Indiana.
Contreras said Robles was arrested on a charge of public intoxication outside of his house after returning from a long day of work.
“His fiancé advises me that he was coming home from work, drinking in front of his house with a few friends. She wasn’t sure how exactly he was approached by the law enforcement agent. Just that the next thing she knew her fiancé was calling her from inside the facility (Hammond jail),” Contreras said.
Contreras said police then contacted officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who requested police hold Herrera.
On April 18 Herrera went before a Hammond city judge on the misdemeanor charge and was to be released on bond, but police did not let him leave. Instead, they held Herrera until ICE picked him up the next day.
Contreras said the delay meant Herrera was held beyond the legal time limit of 48 hours.
“What was this man actually doing in front of his home? He was doing nothing but enjoying an alcoholic beverage or carrying an alcoholic beverage,” Contreras said. “Now, he’s criminalized, arrested on a misdemeanor charge, not released, given to ICE. He is now in deportation proceedings and in the next three months he will have to face an immigration judge for immigration charges for possible deportation.”
Contreras is requesting a May 4 meeting with Hammond police brass to review how the department deals with illegal immigrants and the Hispanic community.
Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller said his officers deal with illegal immigrants of various nationalities on a daily basis.
“It’s very common,” Miller said Wednesday.
Miller also contests Contreras’ account of basic facts surrounding the incident. Miller said police did not pick up Herrera in Calument City, Illinois. Instead, they found him after they responded to a hit and run incident near the intersection of Gostlin Street and Calumet Avenue in Hammond.
Miller said a witness saw the driver of one of the vehicles flee the scene on foot. The department said officers found Herrara in a section of Hammond three miles from his home. Miller said Herrara was stumbling and had glass residue on his clothing. Miller said Herrara was intoxicated, but officers had nothing that directly connected him to the hit and run incident. However, Miller said Herrera allegedly told the Spanish-speaking arresting officer, “I’m afraid of being deported again.”
Miller said the officer made a “courtesy call” to ICE and, at that point, the federal agency asked Hammond police to hold Robles.
“We received written confirmation from ICE. We need you to hold him,” Miller said.
Miller said ICE came for Herrera the morning of April 21, about 16 hours past the 48 hour deadline of when Herrara would have otherwise been released.
Miller said his officers do not normally contact ICE unless the person has committed a felony. He said the department’s handling of Herrera’s case should not have attracted scrutiny from Contrera’s group.
“What are they really upset about? Is this a platform for a bigger political agenda?” Miller said. “We don’t want Hammond to become someone’s political fodder. … She is using this to help her cause.”
Herrera’s attorney on the pubic intoxication charge is Marco Molina, who is based in Merrillville, Indiana.
Molina said police had the right to arrest and detain Herrera but didn’t have the right to hold him beyond the 48-hour period, which expired about 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 20.
Molina said Hammond’s police department is “a lot better” than others in Northern Indiana when it comes to dealing with illegal immigrants. But he wonders why Hammond police decided to contact ICE—and whether they will do so again.
“What are they going to do in the future?” Molina said. “Are they going to be contacting ICE on these petty things? That’s my goal—to follow up with Hammond police to see if they are going to back away from these minor cases.”
Molina added that ICE officials released Herrera in Chicago as soon as he was transported there the morning of April 21.
Miller said he’s not sure if he will take up LULAC’s offer to meet on May 4. Contreras said she wants to review the department’s protocols for arrest. Contreras could not provide another example of an incident similar to Herrera’s but speculates, “There could be hundreds across Indiana.”
“There is no basis for this,” Miller said. “I’m not going to address that.”
Contreras said LULAC is considering warning Hammond Hispanics that the city’s police department could be becoming the poli-migra, a Spanish slang term used to describe police departments that enforce federal immigration laws.
“If the Hammond police department chooses to become the poli-migra the community needs to become very much aware. Now LULAC has the job of placing that community on alert for poli-migra,” Contreras said. “Is it a very distasteful word? Yes it is, but it’s a word that our community identifies with and needs to be safe. At the end of the day, the job of LULAC and many other pro-immigrant organizations, and the church in Indiana, is to keep those families together. .. When we hear this, we now know that this legislation that was produced, this anti-immigrant (Indiana Senate Bill) SB 590 bill would basically give a lot of racist law enforcement agencies a license to profile.”
Indiana Senate Bill 590 was introduced this legislative session by a Republican state senator from the Indianapolis area.
Hammond is a diverse city that leans Democratic. Hispanics make up about a third of Hammond’s 80,000 residents. SB 590 would have given police the authority to arrest anyone they suspect is an illegal immigrant. That portion of the bill was stricken from the bill because it lacked support from key political players, including Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, also a Republican.
The bill that remains in the Indiana Senate has been considerably altered, some calling it watered-down. The key provision would target Indiana businesses who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
Friday marks the close the Indiana General Assembly’s legislative session. Some speculate SB 590 will likely fail to pass because conservatives disliked changes made to it.
Suspected human smuggler leads police on chase
by Natalie Rivers
Posted on April 27, 2011 at 8:11 PM
PHOENIX - An 18-year-old thought to be a human smuggler triggered a dangerous chase through southwest Phoenix.
The teen was spotted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents leaving a suspected drop house early Wednesday morning.
When police tried to pull him over, he allegedly rammed several police vehicles and then tried to get on the I-10 freeway going the wrong way.
The suspect then stopped the car and jumped into the car of an unsuspecting motorist.
Officers eventually caught the suspect when he ran up to a home and asked a cab driver for a ride.
The suspect faces a long list of charges related to fleeing from officers and ramming police vehicles.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Bridgeton and Millville police blotters
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
* Fernando Ruiz-Martinez, 31, of Hampton Street, was arrested Saturday and charged with driving while intoxicated and for a failure to appear warrant from Bridgeton. He was also in the country illegally. Ruiz-Martinez was committed to the Cumberland County Jail on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer.
* Gustavo Velazquez-Salas, 23, of Nixon Avenue, was arrested Sunday and charged with driving while intoxicated.
Officers responded to a crash at Buckshutem Road and Broad Street, where they were told there were some men fighting.
When they arrived, the other drivers were holding onto Velazquez because he had tried to run away from the crash on foot.
He also happened to be in the country illegally.
He as committed to the Cumberland County Jail in lieu of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer.
Woman arrested on warrant for her removal from U.S.
By Amy Alderman TribLocal reporter
4/26/2011 at 4:55 p.m.
A Waukegan woman who was stopped for speeding was arrested by Libertyville police and turned over to an agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on a warrant for her removal from the U.S.
Yeni C. Silva, 26, of 3710 W. Grandville, Waukegan, was stopped for speeding at 6:05 a.m. on April 22 on Milwaukee Avenue near Maple Avenue when a records check revealed that she was wanted on a warrant from Immigration and Customs for failure to appear for removal from the U.S., according to a Libertyville news release.
In addition to the speeding charge, she was cited for driving without a license and without insurance on the vehicle. After processing, she was released from Libertyville police on a $2,000 personal recognizance bond, but was then turned over to an agent from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Mexican Actress Fernanda Romero And Husband Get Jail Time In Immigration Fraud Case
Los Angeles : CA : USA | Apr 26, 2011
By J. R. Huetteman
LOS ANGELES | April 26, 2011
On Monday, a federal judge sentenced Mexican actress Fernanda Romero and husband Kent Ross to 15 weekends in jail upon admitting they committed immigration marriage fraud so that the actress could legally enter the United States.
According to an affidavit filed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Mexican actress Fernanda Romero has appeared in films, including the 2008 supernatural thriller “The Eye,” as well as in print and television advertising and paid $5,000 to husband Kent Ross, a musician and former pizza delivery driver to "tie the knot," so that she could legally reside in the United States and work.
Authorities faimliar with the matter said that both Romero and Ross filed several documents containing claims that they lived at the same address and other false statements. According to the case prosecutors, Romero also filed documents making false statements as to how long she had resided in the United States.
Markus Klinko, a fashion photographer and apparently unhappy ex-boyfriend of Fernando Romero, alerted immigration authorities to the alleged scam which prompted a federal investigation according to the affidavit.
"I am sorry for what I did,'' Romero was quoted by City News Service as saying in court Monday when she was sentenced.
Mexican national will be deported again
By ANNA DOLIANITIS Staff writer
Updated: 4/26/2011 8:42 PM
A 35-year-old Mexican national living in Graniteville pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to illegally re-entering the United States after deportation and will once again face deportation.
Manuel Garcia-Martinez, who has also used the names Daniel Garcia-Hernandez and Marco Hernandez, of Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to time served and will be turned over to immigration authorities for deportation proceedings.
Garcia-Martinez was located in the Graniteville area after local authorities responded to a domestic incident at a residence. Authorities recognized Garcia-Martinez from a previous incident in 2008 when he was deported, and they notified agents with the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The agents verified that Garcia-Martinez was in the United States illegally, and he was arrested on Feb. 8 on federal immigration charges.
Garcia-Martinez faced a two-year statutory maximum sentence for the charge, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Kearney police have busy weekend
Posted: Monday, April 25, 2011 3:18 pm
Kearney police have busy weekend
KEARNEY -- Some of the arrests last weekend in Kearney:
- 10:25 p.m. Saturday: Following a traffic stop for a headlight violation in the 2700 block of Grand Avenue, a 42-year-old Florida man was arrested on an Immigration Customs Enforcement detainer.
Sheriff's log April 23
Nevada Appeal Staff Report
Saturday, April 23, 2011
The following people were booked into the Carson City Jail. All suspects are innocent unless proven guilty in court:
• Miguel Lopez, 38, a custodian from Carson City, was arrested at 12:49 p.m. Thursday in the 900 block of East Musser Street on suspicion of gross misdemeanor possession of burglary tools. Lopez allegedly made a house key to his boss's apartment and entered it while the boss's wife was inside. When running his Social Security number, it was discovered the number was connected to 35 different names. Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed a hold on Lopez. Bail was set at $2,500.
22 ARRESTED IN CHICAGO AREA DURING ICE OPERATION TARGETING GANG MEMBERS
Published 04/24/2011 - 1:39 p.m. CST
CHICAGO - Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in close partnership with local law enforcement, arrested 22 men during a five-day operation this past week. This is the latest local effort in an ongoing national ICE initiative to target transnational gang members.
The arrests were made as part of Operation Community Shield, a national initiative whereby ICE partners with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to target the significant public safety threat posed by transnational street gangs. Partnerships with local law enforcement agencies are essential to the success of Operation Community Shield.
The multi-agency operation began April 17. Arrests were made in the following Illinois communities: Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Joliet and Melrose Park. All 22 men are documented members or associates of the following transnational street gangs: Vice Lords, Latin Kings, Latin P-Stones, Two-Sixers, and Sureño 13s.
All of those arrested have criminal histories that include arrests or convictions for a wide range of crimes committed in the United States. Some of their crimes include: aggravated battery to a peace officer, armed robbery, burglary, criminal damage to property, domestic battery, drunken driving, mob action, possessing marijuana with intent to deliver, residential burglary, unlawfully possessing a weapon by a felon, and unlawfully using a weapon.
Eighteen of the 22 gang members arrested are from Mexico, two are from Guatemala, and one is from Ghana. They range in age from 18 to 40. Two were previously deported to Mexico, of which one may face criminal prosecution for illegally re-entering the United States after being deported. They remain in ICE custody on administrative immigration charges pending deportation. In accordance with privacy policies, ICE does not release the names of those arrested on administrative immigration charges.
"Violent street gangs account for a burgeoning amount of crime in Chicago and our surrounding communities," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Chicago. "ICE works in tandem with our local law enforcement partners to identify these gang members and remove them from the streets in the name of public safety."
ICE was assisted in the operation by the following Illinois police departments: Joliet, Aurora, Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Melrose Park, and Montgomery.
Since Operation Community Shield began in 2005, ICE HSI special agents nationwide have arrested more than 20,000 gang members and associates linked to more than 900 different gangs. As part of this effort, HSI's National Gang Unit identifies violent street gangs and develops intelligence on their membership, associates, criminal activities and international movements to deter, disrupt and dismantle gang operations. Transnational street gangs have significant numbers of foreign-born members and are frequently involved in human and contraband smuggling, immigration violations and other crimes with a connection to the border.
Noncriminals swept up in federal deportation program
Secure Communities, a federal program launched in 2008 with the stated goal of identifying and deporting more illegal immigrants 'convicted of serious crimes,' has netted many noncriminals or those who committed misdemeanors.
By Lee Romney and Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times
April 25, 2011
Reporting from San Francisco and Los Angeles—
More than once, Norma recalls, she yearned to dial 911 when her partner hit her. But the undocumented mother of a U.S.-born toddler was too fearful of police and too broken of spirit to do so.
In October, she finally worked up the courage to call police — and paid a steep price.
Officers who responded found her sobbing, with a swollen lower lip. But a red mark on her alleged abuser's cheek prompted police to book them both into the San Francisco County Jail while investigators sorted out the details.
With that, Norma was swept into the wide net of Secure Communities, a federal program launched in 2008 with the stated goal of identifying and deporting more illegal immigrants "convicted of serious crimes."
But Norma was never convicted of a crime. She was not charged in the abuse case, though the jail honored a request to turn her over to immigration authorities for possible deportation.
"I had called the police to help me," said Norma, 31, who asked that her last name not be used because she fears that speaking out may jeopardize her case. "I think it's unjust…. Even with a traffic ticket we can now be deported."
Under the program, fingerprints of all inmates booked into local jails and cross-checked with the FBI's criminal database are now forwarded by that agency to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be screened for immigration status. Officials said the new system would focus enforcement efforts on violent felons such as those convicted of murder, rape and kidnapping.
But Secure Communities is now mired in controversy. Recently released ICE data show that nearly half of those ensnared by the program have been noncriminals, like Norma, or those who committed misdemeanors.
In addition, hundreds of ICE emails released in response to litigation by immigrant and civil rights groups show the agency knowingly misled local and state officials to believe that participation in the program was voluntary while internally acknowledging that this was not the case.
U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) on Friday accused ICE officials of lying to local governments and to Congress and called for a probe into whether ICE Director John Morton and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who oversees the agency, were aware of the deception.
San Francisco and Santa Clara counties are among those jurisdictions that sought to prevent fingerprint data from being automatically routed to ICE. Although that data will still be forwarded to immigration authorities, both counties are now crafting policies that would deny ICE hold requests for inmates booked on minor infractions.
There is still much confusion over what legal authority states have to change their participation agreements with ICE, which now says they are unnecessary.
A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) to be heard in committee Tuesday would require California to modify its agreement with ICE so that only fingerprints of convicted felons are run through the immigration database. The bill also contains protections for domestic violence victims and juveniles and would make the program optional for counties.
"With punitive methods that sweep them all up, there's no trust," said Ammiano, adding that with 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, the policy should be specifically tailored to dangerous criminals. "We have had children come home from school and their parents are not there. That is not an enlightened policy."
A similar bill is pending in Illinois, while Colorado managed to negotiate a modified agreement that includes some protections for domestic violence victims. Washington recently became the first state to refuse to join the federal program, and Washington, D.C., withdrew altogether.
Federal officials now contend that all states and counties must participate in Secure Communities by 2013. They said Washington, D.C., was allowed to temporarily terminate its agreement only as a courtesy.
But the program's legality remains an open question. Homeland Security officials say they need no approval from counties or states because Secure Communities is merely "an information-sharing program between federal partners." Lofgren and other critics, however, question the federal government's right to impose the program on local jails. Backers of Ammiano's bill say that ICE has exceeded its authority and plan to move forward with proposed changes to California's agreement.
ICE spokeswoman Nicole Navas said that the Secure Communities program resulted in the deportation of 72,000 convicted criminals last year, more than at any time in agency history. Of those, 26,000 had committed major violent offenses.
"By removing criminal aliens more efficiently and effectively, ICE is reducing the possibility that these individuals will commit additional crimes in U.S. communities," she said.
Some who appear in the data to be noncriminals or low-level offenders have gang affiliations, were arrested for drunk driving or were previously deported and returned, she said. Of California's fingerprint matches, 22% to date are fugitives who had ignored deportation orders or were expelled and returned illegally, data shows.
Norma, for example, had left the country voluntarily after an immigration arrest in 2002 but returned the same year, ICE officials said.
In 2009, California signed one of the earliest agreements with ICE to participate in Secure Communities. The program is now in 41 states and 1,211 local jurisdictions, including all California counties.
Critics say the program discourages immigrants from reporting crimes and encourages racial profiling because officers might book individuals on minor infractions knowing that their fingerprints will be screened by ICE. They point out that the program does not screen out those arrested but never charged with a crime.
A Homeland Security official said the department has hired a criminologist to examine arrest statistics for signs of racial profiling and is looking to "enhance the decision-making process" to reduce the number of noncriminals being deported. The department also will soon unveil a policy for domestic violence victims.
Supporters applaud Secure Communities for replacing ad hoc immigration enforcement with a nationwide effort that targets criminals.
"Before what was happening was the local officers had no way of knowing or had to take special steps to find out if the people they arrested were potentially removable from the community," said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for tougher immigration enforcement. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca also supports the program.
But Lofgren and others are upset over what they see as the deception with which the Secure Communities program was implemented.
The congresswoman was most angered by the hundreds of ICE internal documents recently released by order of a federal judge. A review of the correspondence reveals an agency that misled local and state officials as it struggled to defuse what one email called "a domino effect" of political opposition.
As early as November 2009, Secure Communities Acting Director Marc Rapp declared in an email that "voluntary" meant "the ability to receive the immigration response" about fingerprint matches, not the ability to decline to provide the data in the first place.
But for nearly a year that was not made clear to local agencies. "They said, 'You set up a meeting and you opt out.' That's why we're pretty unhappy," said Santa Clara County Counsel Miguel Marquez.
San Francisco County Sheriff Michael Hennessey also unsuccessfully sought to opt out of the program last summer. Hennessey is developing a policy that would honor ICE detainer requests only for felons and misdemeanants whose crimes involve "violence, guns, and certain sex offenses." Santa Clara County is exploring a similar policy.
In July, Lofgren wrote Napolitano and U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder seeking "a clear explanation of how local law enforcement agencies may opt out of Secure Communities by having the fingerprints they collect … checked against criminal, but not immigration databases." In September, she received letters back stating that locals need only submit the request in writing to state and federal officials.
ICE officials knew the language was misleading. "I like the thought. But reading the response alone would lead one to believe that a site can elect to never participate should they wish," an FBI staffer wrote to ICE colleagues in an August email exchange about the draft. In October, Napolitano and Morton finally held a news conference to clarify that opting out of Secure Communities is not possible.
A Homeland Security official said Friday that "Secure Communities is not voluntary and never has been. Unfortunately, this was not communicated as clearly as it should have been to state and local jurisdictions."
Meanwhile, Norma is preparing to testify on behalf of Ammiano's bill. She attends a domestic violence support group and cares for her 3-year-old son, Brandon, in a rented room while wearing a bulky ankle monitor.
"Now that I know my rights, I want to fight," said Norma, who recently graduated from a leadership program to help other abuse victims.
Immigration visas are available for domestic violence victims who meet specific criteria. If she loses her case, Norma said, she will return to Mexico.
"This strength they've given me, this sense of security, this I will carry with me anywhere I go."
ESCONDIDO: Police impound 22 vehicles at checkpoint
By North County Times
North County Times - The Californian | Posted: Sunday, April 24, 2011
ESCONDIDO ---- Police impounded 22 vehicles at a Saturday night DUI and license checkpoint, according to an Escondido Police Department statement.
Twenty-four drivers received citations at the checkpoint; two had suspended driver's licenses and 22 did not have a license at all, according to the statement.
One driver was arrested for driving under the influence and four drivers were determined to be unlicensed and in the country illegally. Three with previous criminal arrests were turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the statement said.
The fourth was released after authorities couldn't determine whether he had prior convictions.
Irving student facing deportation will surrender with her family
by MONIKA DIAZ
Posted on April 24, 2011 at 10:29 PM
IRVING — College student Olga Zanella faces deportation, but this week, she and her family will take a dramatic step, hoping it leads to the outcome they have been praying for.
Zanella and her family opened their Easter dinner with a prayer that their faith will giving them the strength to step out of the shadows.
Next week, the entire family plans to surrender to immigration officials.
"I know our next step is going to be very meaningful," Zanella said. "It's going to be very difficult; how we are going to work things out?"
For months, Zanella has been fighting her deportation. The 20-year-old student grew up in Irving since the age of six. Throughout the process, she has kept her family's whereabouts a secret.
They are also illegally living in the U-S.
Jose Victor Zanella, Olga's father, father admits he is scared, but he's ready move forward as a family.
"It's important for the entire family to do this together," the elder Zanella said through a translator. "If she is no longer with us, it's like trying to live without oxygen. It's important to stay together."
The decision to surrender was made last week at a meeting with Dallas Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, Zanella, and her advocate, Ralph Isenberg.
"Rather than having a rhetoric war, we would compromise and work together towards trying to do something to help her situation, without any promises," Isenberg said.
There are no promises, but Isenberg told News 8 the family will at least get the chance to present their case.
"It may end up an administrative procedure," he said. "It may end up being in a court procedure... but we will get to have a fair day somewhere. If we are correct in our thinking, then ultimately, that the family could see some relief. On the other hand, if we are wrong, the family could face deportation."
Olga Zanella knows it's all a huge risk, but it's one she will no longer face on her own. Her family will be with her every step of the way.
Trafficking rare but worrisome in New England
Published: Monday, April 25, 2011
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Human trafficking charges, like those brought against a military officer from the United Arab Emirates in Rhode Island earlier this month, are rare in New England, but reflect a growing problem across the nation and the globe, a senior federal official in the region said.
"In New England, we don't see a lot of it. I've been here since 2006, and I've had maybe four or five cases in that time, from forced labor to girls trafficked for prostitution purposes," Bruce M. Foucart, a special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New England, said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Col. Arif Mohamed Saeed Mohamed Al-Ali, an Emirati naval officer, was arrested in Rhode Island on April 5 following a monthslong ICE investigation. He has pleaded not guilty to allegations he failed to pay a woman from the Philippines he brought to the U.S. in July to help take care of his five children while he spent a year studying at the U.S. Naval War College, a Navy-run graduate school in Newport, R.I.
Prosecutors say he confiscated the woman's passport, forced her to work seven days a week — often until midnight — and kept her largely confined to the large Colonial house he rents in central Rhode Island. The woman escaped in October and is now in hiding.
Al-Ali is charged with committing fraud in foreign labor contracting, a crime under a 2008 federal human trafficking law.
Even though cases like Al-Ali's are rare in Rhode Island and neighboring states, they're growing more common nationwide. In 2010, Foucart said, ICE initiated 651 human trafficking investigations. That's up from 432 investigation in 2008 and 299 in 2006. The 2010 investigations led to 300 arrests on trafficking violations in the U.S., Foucart said, a more than 50 percent jump from 2008.
And those figures tell only part of a larger story. ICE is the lead federal agency in charge of investigating human trafficking, but the FBI, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies, also investigate and prosecute suspected trafficking violations.
In the decade since passage of the landmark federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, law enforcement agencies have ramped up their efforts to fight human trafficking. An increase in the act of trafficking itself is difficult to quantify, but Foucart said the consensus is that it's a growing problem.
Foucart declined to discuss Al-Ali's case specifically, which took an unusual turn two weeks ago when ICE and other federal agents pulled the colonel off a nonstop flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport bound for Dubai. But he said labor violations like that alleged in Al-Ali's case can be traced to conventions in the home countries of suspects.
"It's not uncommon for people from certain countries to bring in what are essentially servants, and they're not free to leave. They're held in a peonage-type environment. That's not going to be tolerated in the U.S.," he said.
In September 2006, Hana Al-Jader, a Saudi Arabian princess living in Massachusetts, pleaded guilty to visa fraud and harboring an alien after prosecutors accused her of forcing two Indonesian women to work as her domestic servants.
Despite the relative paucity of cases in New England, human trafficking is a priority of ICE offices in the region, Foucart said.
"I have agents who are dedicated to human trafficking cases only," he said. "When we see it, we address it. We investigate it, and we prosecute it."
Prosecuting traffickers is also becoming a priority for state law enforcement in the region.
The first person charged under Rhode Island's 2007 human trafficking law was sentenced earlier this month to 10 years in prison. Two other New England states — Vermont and Massachusetts — are among a dwindling number of states without a human trafficking statute on the books. But in January, the attorney general's offices in those two states called on lawmakers to pass comprehensive human trafficking legislation.
Prosecutors have not identified the Filipina they say Al-Ali kept from July until her October escape, but a lawsuit brought on her behalf by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund — a New York-based civil rights group — names her as Elizabeth Cabitla Ballesteros.
ICE works with non-profits to provide housing and other services for suspected victims of human trafficking. The agency generally allows suspected victims to remain in the country during criminal proceedings, often so they can participate as witnesses. Afterward, they can apply for four-year trafficking-victim visas, which can lead to permanent residence in the U.S.
"That's a huge tool we can use in a humanitarian way," Foucart said.
Ballesteros, who is in her thirties and cooperating with federal prosecutors, is in a "safe place," according to Ivy O. Suriyapos, a lawyer with the group representing her. Suriyapos declined to elaborate on Ballesteros' whereabouts.
Defense attorneys for Al-Ali have said employed the woman legally as a nanny for his 4-year-old child.
The colonel is free on $100,000 bond, but has been ordered confined mostly to his home, an order that came after he tried to flee the country while free on his own recognizance.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Mexican man charged with illegally re-entering U.S.
HARRISBURG, Saturday, April 23, 2011 -- Carlos Zamorano-Zamorano, a 25-year-old citizen of Mexico, has been charged with illegally re-entering the United States after being arrested recently in Franklin County.
Peter J. Smith, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, announced the charges on Friday. A federal grand jury in Harrisburg charged Zamorano on Wednesday in a one-count indictment.
Zamorano had been convicted previously of a felony and deported from the U.S. in April 2009, according to Smith. If convicted Zamorano faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted the investigation. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian G. McDonnell is the prosecutor.
Victims of ICE abuses share shocking stories
By Natasha Dado
Friday, 04.22.2011, 12:49pm
DEARBORN — A young Russian man from Michigan was forced to watch his mother get strip searched in immigration detention. Ivan Nikolov remembers his mother crying the whole time, and begging the officers to stop humiliating her. He says instead of responding with human decency, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer told her to be glad they didn’t shoot her in the head.
Nikolov and his mother were arrested at their home and taken to detention, where he spent almost four months. He says every detainee is treated poorly. "The officers made racial slurs at all of us, especially the blacks and Latinos. The officer in charge of immigration at the jail even taunted us with a little song that went something like, 'Some are black, some are brown, some are white, but they're all mine,'" Nikolov said.
After complaining about the poor treatment of detainees, he was accused of attempting to incite a riot, and moved to a violent criminal unit at the detention center.
In recent weeks ICE has also been accused of surrounding an elementary school, conducting warrant-less, illegal searches and refusing to let a pregnant woman have access to her medication while in detention.
Nikolov and others involved in similar incidents shared their stories during a rally against ICE abuses at a UAW office in Dearborn on Monday, April 18, with nearly 1,000 in attendance, including dozens of Arab Americans and American Muslims.
Juana Jimenez is a mother of two U.S. born children and is facing deportation. She was stopped by the River Rouge Police late January, handcuffed and taken to immigration detention for about seven hours. Jimenez says officers told her she was in custody because she wasn't from the United States. "They treated me like you have no idea…That's something I don't want for anyone," she said at the rally.
Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) joins U.S. Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) at a rally in Dearborn against recent abuses by ICE agents in Detroit. Nearly 1,000 attended.
Martha Valadez, a member of the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrants Rights, said the organization has received over 255 calls, and 191 are complaints about deportation, detention and ICE. She said 85 of the cases resulted in children being separated from their parents, and others involved assault from local police. "ICE is responsible for the separation of thousands of families, and increasing numbers of single parent households," Valadez said at the rally, which was sponsored by the Alliance for Immigrant Rights and Reform (AIR) of Michigan.
Speakers at the rally included Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Rep. John Conyers of Michigan's 14th Congressional District, Rep. Hansen Clarke of Michigan's 13th Congressional District, State Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), State Rep. George Darany (D-Dearborn), State Rep. Harvey Santana (D-Detroit) and UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, among others.
"When those we have trusted to uphold the law, take the law into their own hands, all of our civil liberties are at stake. Every ICE action, every deportation, and every new escalation has a lifetime of consequences for our families. The toll in immigrant communities across the country has been huge and the stories I am hearing on my tour are heartbreaking and harrowing," Gutierrez said.
Leaders meet with ICE officials
Three days earlier, on Apr.15, Detroit-area community leaders privately met with ICE National Assistant Secretary John Morton at the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services' office in Dearborn to discuss a similar list of alleged ICE abuses. Morton flew in from Washington for the meeting.
Morton was asked to respond to allegations of unfair treatment by his agency. The violations range from surrounding elementary schools and scaring parents and children to illegal searches of homes. ICE recently issued a statement admitting it broke its own policies by intimidating and tormenting families at Hope of Detroit Academy on March 31.
A list of demands was submitted to Morton, including that ICE immediately respect their own policies and end all warrant-less searches and raids of homes as well as enforcement activities near schools, churches, mosques, community centers and health clinics.
Additionally, the leaders demanded to know who authorized the enforcement actions at schools, if anyone, and why. Community leaders also demanded that officers involved in the incidents at Hope of Detroit Academy be identified and disciplined along with the officers involved in the warrant-less searches of homes.
Detroit Field Office Director Rebecca Adducci was asked to submit a civil rights plan to the community that specifically addresses how such problems will be prevented in the future.
Following that meeting a press conference was held at the Detroit Hispanic Development Center in Detroit. "We demanded answers. We demanded an investigation, but most of all we demanded accountability. It is not enough to have new policies. It is not enough to have apologies. We need to know that those responsible for these abuses will be disciplined, transferred or removed," AIR Director Ryan Bates said at the conference.
"Policy change in the future doesn't mean anything if ICE has proven that it will violate its own policy," he added.
Executive Director of the Center, Angie Reyes, said Morton agreed to complete a review on the violations and respond within 30 days.
Other abuse incidents were highlighted at the press conference. In Cincinnati, Ohio an immigrant father was thrown against a wall during an enforcement action, and one U.S. citizen woke up to the sound of three ICE agents in his home with no warrants or consent granted.
Ruben Torres, an engineer for Detroit Public Schools, was stopped by ICE officers on Mar. 24 while waiting at a traffic light. Torres was born in the U.S., but the ICE officer claimed he stopped him because he had an expired work visa from 2003 or 2004. Torres believes he's a victim of racial profiling.
"This is a pattern we see with ICE. We see an abusive pattern of enforcement and searches without warrants, but also they lie to folks in enforcement situations. In this case by telling Mr. Torres that they know his visa is expired when they have no evidence. In other cases threatening families that they can be arrested for obstruction of justice if they don't open the door and let them in, or other sorts of situations where they're not telling the truth, and they're doing it to try and trick folks," Bates said.
Torres told the officer he was born in the United States, so he didn't have a visa, but the agent continued asking for it. He supplied his driver's license and other identification.
Despite offering proper identification, the agent told Torres it was going to be his final chance to tell the truth about his citizenship after much questioning. "He said he didn't want anything, and he just wanted me to provide my visa," Torres said, speaking at the conference.
An additional three ICE agents arrived at the scene, and asked Torres the same questions, including where his parents were born and where he attended school. Torres says he has no record of criminal history.
He thought he was being stopped by an undercover officer because the ICE vehicle was unmarked. "He said he needed my birth certificate. I said, 'Who drives around with a birth certificate in their wallet? I was born in the United States…' I just couldn't understand why he wanted me so bad. And I didn't like the feeling they were going to drag me downtown for finger printing and possible deportation," Torres, 45, said.
The day after that incident, ICE issued a statement admitting it had broken its own polices and conducted improper searches at schools, including Hope of Detroit. Witnesses say they saw ICE at another elementary school in Southwest Detroit. Maria Castellanos, 53, of Detroit said she saw ICE agents raiding Neinas Elementary on Apr. 7.
"…I'm here to say that I have seen ICE and immigration surrounding schools, and this leads to panic among the parents, and I've seen parents being taken away," she said.
Congressmen Conyers and Clarke are expected to hold a forum on racial profiling and ICE violations April 27 at the Hope of Detroit Academy from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
No valid driver license offense getting immigrants deported in Collier
By TARA E. McLAUGHLIN
Naples Daily News
Posted April 23, 2011 at 5 p.m.
NAPLES — Achsah Ortiz said goodbye to her husband in a way she never imagined she’d have to — in a detention center days before he boarded a one-way flight to Mexico.
He had lived quietly under the radar in the United States for 10 years without immigration documentation. One day last fall, Guillermo Ortiz Juarez, then 30, made a costly mistake.
He got behind the wheel of his Ford Mustang after drinking. He swerved into a mailbox near his home in Naples Park and walked away from the car that was stuck in a swale. His charges, including a DUI, were misdemeanors, but his punishment was more than fines and driving restrictions.
He was separated from his wife and 7-year-old daughter and sent back to Mexico without knowing if the family would ever be reunited.
His departure left two American citizens heartbroken, facing hunger and financial insecurity.
“He’s our sole provider,” the 40-year-old Ortiz said, choking back tears.
She’d lost her job six months earlier. Her husband had been working two jobs to provide for the family.
“He’s not a bad person. Now you’re taking him away. Now America has to pay for me and my daughter,’’ she said. “I have to be totally destitute with my family.”
* * * * *
The deportation of Ortiz Juarez isn’t an uncommon story in Collier County for people who get arrested, even if they’re not charged with a felony offense.
A Daily News review of Collier arrest records for a several month period showed that one out of every five people turned over for deportation was charged with not having a valid driver license.
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is one of four Florida law enforcement agencies, and about 70 across the country, that participate in a collaborative program with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The program, called 287(g), came out of a 1996 immigration law, which amended the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. Section 287(g) extended powers to trained local law enforcement staff to aid in “the investigation, apprehension, or detention of aliens in the United States.”
In Collier, illegal aliens can be pursued in two ways — via corrections procedures at the jail or by special investigations.
Detectives investigate tips they’ve received indicating a person not in custody might be in this country illegally.
Or, when anyone is arrested and taken to jail, they’re questioned about their nationality. Those born outside of the U.S. are checked against a database for immigration status. Additionally, a program implemented in February 2009 called Secure Communities runs a fingerprint check on people in the jail.
The Daily News reviewed several months of jail records and charges, involving 121 men and women detained by the Sheriff’s Office for ICE prior to deportation proceedings.
By far, the most common among 43 types of charges was for not having a valid driver license. Twenty-six immigrants were charged with the offense. For 19 of those, that was their only charge.
About a third of all charges, 57 of 178, dealt with driver licenses — no valid license, driving with a suspended or expired license, or producing false identification or a license from out of state though the person lived in Florida.
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Ortiz and Ortiz Juarez met in the restaurant business.
“I’ve never met anyone who is so honest, hard-working,” Ortiz said. “He puts family first. ... He’s always been there for me.”
They had little money or time for dates, but they cherished romantic backyard dinners. The relationship grew and the couple had a daughter, Angeline.
About a year later, Ortiz and Ortiz Juarez married.
In the beginning of their relationship, they met with Naples immigration attorney Casey Wolff, searching for a way to change his immigration status.
“We were trying to do the right thing but there are no laws in place,” Ortiz said. “That’s what I’m trying to wrap my head around.”
Marriage to an American and fathering an American child doesn’t give an undocumented immigrant rights to be in this country.
When immigrants try to make their stay legal, Wolff said, they are stymied by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.
If an illegal alien was in the country for less than a year, he or she could leave for three years and then apply for re-entry. If they were in the United States for more than a year, immigrants must wait 10 years before trying to return.
The law was meant to scare illegal immigrants into going home, Wolff said, but it did the opposite.
“It trapped people here,” he said. “They decided to stay here and take their chances.”
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Being in the country illegally isn’t a crime, Wolff said, defining it as an administrative offense, meaning a person cannot be jailed because they overstayed a legal visa or surreptitiously entered the country.
Even so, aliens have been targeted for removal.
However, those like Ortiz Juarez aren’t a top priority for deportation, according to federal standards.
A memo from ICE Director John Morton set priorities for catching, holding and removing foreign nationals.
“The removal of aliens who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety shall be ICE’s highest immigration enforcement priority,” Morton wrote in the June 2010 memo.
Among ICE’s top priorities are those engaged in terrorism, convicted of violent crimes and teens in gangs. ICE next focuses on felons and those with three or more misdemeanor convictions. Finally, ICE said, it will turn its attention to aliens convicted of a misdemeanor, such as a DUI.
Ortiz Juarez appeared to fall into the lowest-priority category because there was no other offense on his record, said Nicole Navas, an ICE spokeswoman.
It’s these types of deportations that frustrate immigration attorney Wolff.
“The national government’s own policy, articulated by ICE, is (to round up) convicted felons or those with standing orders of deportation,” he said. “But that’s not what they’re doing at all.”
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Wolff maintains government agencies, including those in Collier County, are “grabbing anybody that looks like a Hispanic in a pickup truck.”
That’s an allegation that deputies are familiar with, but say is untrue.
Collier sheriff’s Lt. Keith Harmon said deputies on the street can’t arrest people on the suspicion of being illegal.
Deputies also hear complaints that people they hand over to ICE were good people and never committed any crimes.
“We’re talking about people whose lives have been evolved in the United States,” Naples immigration attorney Casey Wolff said. “In Achsah’s case, do we really need to put (these) people on welfare? Does that spur economic growth? ... What is being served by destroying a family that is making its way in the world?”
“If you enter this country illegally, you have already committed a crime,” Collier sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Dasher said.
“If you enter this country illegally, you have already committed a crime,” Collier sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Dasher said.
In Collier County, between October 2006 and December 2010, about 3,100 people were identified as illegal aliens. So far, about 2,400 of those have left the country, according to data provided by ICE.
The Sheriff’s Office said those arrested had been charged with a total of some 2,000 felonies and 3,000 misdemeanors.
ICE provided figures from Collier County’s Secure Communities program and found that from February 2009 through November 2010, 94 of the 959 aliens handed over to ICE were among the lowest-priority immigrants.
They were people like Ortiz Juarez.
An immigration judge granted Ortiz Juarez a voluntary departure, meaning he could leave the country of his own accord instead of being deported and put on a plane by the federal government.
“It’s an immigration benefit that ... if he reapplies to enter the United States, he’s not barred from applying,” ICE spokeswoman Navas said.
Ortiz Juarez was forced to leave the country by mid-January. His wife scraped together money to buy his one-way ticket to Mexico City. It was a tricky task considering she’d already spent their savings as well as money she borrowed from family, and thousands of dollars given to her by Ortiz Juarez’s employer to stay afloat during Ortiz Juarez’s three months in custody.
The ordeal has worn on Ortiz Juarez, who said in a telephone interview that sometimes it feels like life is becoming too painful.
“It’s hard but I have to keep going,” he said by phone before he left the U.S.
Ortiz and Angeline saw Ortiz Juarez two times after his arrest – once at his visitation on Christmas. The next time the three were together was Jan. 9, two days before Ortiz Juarez’s flight to Mexico.
Ortiz Juarez is in Mexico now, his wife reported and ICE confirmed. He’s staying with family and trying to get used to life in a place he hadn’t seen since he was 20 years old.
Ortiz is missing her companion, her daughter’s father, and the security of the life they built together.
Angeline is happy that her father is “free” and not “locked up” anymore, but she misses him and wrote on a drawing: “I just need my papa back.”
The mother and daughter took a two-week trip to Mexico and plan to go there again when Angeline is on summer break.
Their attorney is hopeful Ortiz Juarez can file an application for a hardship waiver that could allow him to return to the United States.
Though all involved acknowledge Ortiz Juarez’s mistakes, they question the law involving a person without a felony background, who has worked hard and raised a family.
Removing felons from the country is a valid endeavor, Wolff said, but a law that keeps good people apart isn’t accomplishing goals America stands for.
“We’re talking about people whose lives have been evolved in the United States,” Wolff said. “In Achsah’s case, do we really need to put (these) people on welfare? Does that spur economic growth? ... What is being served by destroying a family that is making its way in the world?”
Calif. congresswoman: Immigration officials lied
The Associated Press
Posted: 04/23/2011 02:56:31 PM PDT
Updated: 04/23/2011 04:15:09 PM PDT
SAN JOSE, Calif.—A Northern California congresswoman has accused federal immigrations officials of lying when they said counties and states could opt out of a program that checks the immigration status of people arrested and booked into local jails.
Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of San Jose on Friday called for an investigation of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials following a review by her office of internal correspondence about the Secure Communities program.
That correspondence—recently released by the Department of Homeland Security in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit—shows the Obama administration gave communities no choice but to participate in the program after some refused.
Santa Clara County, where San Jose is the county seat, and San Francisco were among the communities that sought to opt out of Secure Communities.
Additionally, ICE officials continued discussing whether the program was voluntary even after telling Congress and law enforcement agencies that participation wasn't required, according to the documents.
"It is inescapable that the (Department of Homeland Security) was not honest with the local governments or with me," Lofgren told the Los Angeles Times. "You can't have a government department essentially lying to local government and to members of Congress. This is not OK."
Lofgren said she wants the probe to include Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton. ICE falls under the Department of Homeland Security.
In a statement, the department said the program was never voluntary.
"Unfortunately, this was not communicated as clearly as it should have been to state and local jurisdictions by ICE when the program began," the statement said. "Thanks to outreach with local jurisdictions and members of Congress, we have since made the parameters of the program clear to all stakeholders involved."
Supporters say Secure Communities has led to the deportation of thousands of immigrants convicted of major violent offenses.
Critics say it has ensnared immigrants who were never charged or charged with minor offenses. They also say it makes illegal immigrants reluctant to cooperate with authorities and can lead to racial profiling.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Eastlake: Mom jailed by immigration agents
4:35 AM, Apr 20, 2011
EASTLAKE -- An Eastlake mother of three has spent the last 11 days in the Bedford Heights city jail because of what her family and friends say is a "paperwork mistake" by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Beatrice Kiarie, 38, was taken into custody April 8 because her family says she missed a meeting with immigration officials.
The family says the notice about the meeting was mailed to the wrong address.
"She's been going every time, as required," Kiarie's husband George said from the family's Eastlake home, about her regular appointments with immigration. "So I believe she should at least have been told what is going on before being detained."
The Kiaries came to Cleveland from Nairobi, Kenya in 1996 as students. George earned an MBA from Cleveland State University. Beatrice also earned her degree from CSU. They married in 1998 and have three children.
"This has been very hard on the children," George Kiarie tells WKYC. "The kids are always asking where she is, and it's very hard for me to explain to them that Mommy's not coming tonight. That Mommy won't be here."
The Kiaries bought a house in Eastlake about a year ago, moving from Warrensville Heights. The family's pastor, who has been visiting Beatrice in jail, says immigration officials have acknowledged their error, but said that it could take three months to fix.
Officials of the Immigration and Naturalization Service were not available for comment Tuesday evening.
"This family is what everyone says they are," Pastor Don Morris of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Orange Village tells WKYC. "They're just the sweetest people, doing everything right, and yet bureaucracy has gotten the best of them."
At a Tuesday evening Bible study, church members raised up prayers for Beatrice and the family.
"I see the kids every day, and we are very worried about the children," says family friend and fellow church member Myrtis Walker. "This has been affecting their school work."
Walker says she and Beatrice became fast friends when both joined the church about three years ago.
"Bea is such a soft, tender-hearted person," Walker says. "She's a wonderful lady. She's very kind, very soft-spoken. She's easy to talk to. A very, very nice lady."
Pastor Morris says Beatrice has had both good and bad days as a prisoner at the Bedford Heights jail.
"But she's trying to make the best of it by ministering to the other prisoners," he offered. "We hope to have her home by Easter."
At the family home, the children struggle to concentrate on homework while their father prepares meals.
"My wife did the cooking," he explains. "She loved to cook and took care of us."
"I really miss mom because she's been gone for a long time," says Lauren, 7, as her brothers, Jeffrey, 13, and Patrick, 5, take a break from homework and distract themselves with a video game.
Lauren spoke for herself and her family.
"Every time we check with the people to see if she's free to go," the little girl earnestly explained, "they keep saying no, that she hasn't finished her papers yet. So we're still keeping her in our prayers."
Mill Valley police log
By Herald staff
Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 12:11 PM PDT
Solicitor: Whole Foods Market at 11:54 a.m. Caller complained of female solicitor with a child by the front produce section of store. Woman wais holding a sign reading, “Help me I’m poor starving.” Child appeared to be about 7 years of age. Officer contacted solicitors and told them not to return to the store. Officer contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Connecticut Pols Want ICE to Halt Deportation of Mexican Student
Published April 21, 2011
| Fox News Latino
Mariano Cardoso, a Mexican-born college student who Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy describes as "for all intents and purposes" an American, is at the center of an immigration tussle between that state's highest-ranking elected officials and the federal government.
The student, 23-year-old Mariano Cardoso, has lived in the United States since his family entered the country illegally when he was a toddler. He is due to graduate next month from Capitol Community College in Hartford with an engineering degree.
In discussions with federal immigration officials, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats, have highlighted Cardoso's personal achievements in asking for him to be allowed to stay. On Wednesday, Malloy wrote a letter formally asking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to defer his deportation.
Cardoso, in an interview Wednesday, said, "I'm really surprised and glad there is something happening for me and I'm not alone."
Cardoso is facing deportation any day after losing a legal battle to stay in the country. Blumenthal, however, said discussions with federal officials have made him optimistic there is no imminent plan to send Cardoso back to Mexico. He said his office will remain vigilant.
"We have been involved very closely," Blumenthal said. "I happened to meet Mariano and learned about what he's done, his studies and his background, and his story is a very compelling one."
The office of Sen. Joe Lieberman also has sought a solution to the case, according to spokeswoman Whitney Phillips, who said it highlights why the independent U.S. senator supports comprehensive immigration reform.
A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said he could not immediately comment on the case.
Cardoso said his troubles started in August 2008, when immigration agents went into his uncle's backyard during a family gathering. The agents said they were looking for a woman identified as a drug dealer and asked to search the house, but he and his uncle refused because they didn't have a search warrant. The agents then demanded their documents and arrested Cardoso after discovering his illegal status.
He said he was optimistic the deportation order would be reversed up until two months ago, when his attorney advised him that any further appeals would be fruitless. In a last-ditch effort to stay, he decided to begin telling his story publicly.
A national advocacy organization, United We Dream, started a petition on his behalf, and a student group at Trinity College, Stop the Raids, has demonstrated to support his cause.
Malloy and both senators say they support the DREAM Act, legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for certain young people such as Cardoso who were brought to this country at a young age. It has failed to pass Congress several times, most recently in December. A week ago, Blumenthal was among senators who wrote President Barack Obama to ask that he grant a stay of removal for all young people who meet the requirements of the proposed legislation.
"For all intents and purposes, Mariano is American," Malloy said in a statement. "To send him back to a country he has no recollection of and did not grow up in makes little sense, particularly as he is finishing his degree and looking to contribute to his community and this state."
"Congress needs to address immigration reform in a comprehensive and commonsense manner, but until that happens, we cannot allow young men and women like Mariano, who, through no fault of their own, were brought here as children, lose this chance at a better life," Malloy said.
Cardoso, whose family hails from Puebla in southern Mexico, said his grandfather and a few aunts still live there but he doesn't really know them.
"If I were to go there I don't really know what I'd do," he said. "I wouldn't know where to go to school, where to find a career."
If allowed to stay in the United States, he said, he hopes to become a civil engineer and eventually a math teacher.