Three immigrants found dead in Duval County
Authorities point to smuggling job gone wrong.
By Jason Buch
Updated 11:29 p.m., Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Authorities in Duval County are investigating three homicides they say may have been the result of a hit-and-run accident.
A reserve sheriff's deputy wrecked his car at about 2 a.m. Tuesday after swerving to avoid the bodies of three suspected illegal immigrants lying on FM 1329, said Duval County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Jose Martinez III. The victims were men from Mexico, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic, Martinez said. Their ages range from 23 to 30, he said.
The case is being investigated by the Texas Rangers, Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Martinez said. Deputies don't have any leads, he said, but they did find seven more immigrants who said they had traveled with the dead men.
The immigrants told authorities that the coyote, or human smuggler, leading their group through the brush took two men to collect water and food from other smugglers in a vehicle on the road, Martinez said.
“They heard noises, heard individuals getting hit and they heard moaning and groaning and they were actually scared” and didn't leave the brush, he said. The coyote was among those killed.
San Diego, the Duval county seat, is about 85 miles from the border at Laredo, but because highways running from Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley pass through the county and because there's a Border Patrol checkpoint in the county on U.S. 59 and in neighboring Jim Hogg County on Texas 16, it sees plenty of smuggling activity, Martinez said.
The department's 23 deputies usually stop about three smugglers a day. But these were the first homicides the department has investigated this year. They only saw one last year.
The deputy who found the bodies rolled his vehicle, but only suffered minor bumps and bruises, Martinez said.
The bodies were taken to the Nueces County medical examiner in Corpus Christi, who ruled that the men died of head trauma and extensive internal injuries, Martinez said.
“We're working it as a homicide,” he said. “It could be a hit and run just due to the extent of the injuries that they obtained.”
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Three immigrants found dead in Duval County
C’ville charges South Elgin woman with identity theft
June 29, 2011 7:30PM
Identity theft: Maria G. Santoyo-Torres, 42, of Lakewood Court, South Elgin, was charged with felony identity theft. She is accused of using another woman’s name and Social Security number to obtain employment from 2009 though Tuesday, earning in excess of $10,000. The victim had received an IRS notice demanding payment of $6,752 in back taxes, according to court records. Bail was set at $5,000 and she was given a July 5 court date. There also was an Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold placed on Torres.
Undocumented drivers to be fingerprinted
BY DAVID MONTERO
The Salt Lake Tribune
Utah’s latest version of its driving privilege card takes effect Friday — one that expands background checks on undocumented immigrants in a compromise that saved the program from being dumped entirely.
The six-year-old program allows cardholders to drive legally in Utah without having to prove legal residency and is based on the premise that the permit allows these drivers to obtain auto insurance.
Nanette Rolfe, director of public safety, said the new application and renewal process targets only those convicted of felonies or with outstanding warrants by requiring applicants to be fingerprinted and bring photo identification to obtain a driving privilege card.
“If they’re an individual that is upholding the law, there should be no reason the fingerprints should be shared with anyone unless there is a felony or outstanding warrant,” Rolfe said. “There is no reason to be afraid.”
Data on an applicant who has a felony will be sent to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; information on an individual with an outstanding warrant will be forwarded to local police.
Alfonso Gonzalez, 42, an undocumented immigrant from West Valley City, renewed his driving privilege card on Monday before SB138 takes effect. But the Mexican national must submit his fingerprints next year when seeking renewal.
“I have lived in this country for over 20 years and have had no legal problems, so I have no fear of submitting my fingerprints,” he said.
The changes to the driving privilege card came in the 2011 legislative session when Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, initially proposed eliminating the program entirely. But Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, substituted the Urquhart measure with the new procedures and that version, SB138, passed in the Senate 25-3 and in the House 58-12. Urquhart was among those to vote for the Bramble version.
Bramble was the author of the original 2005 law authorizing the driving privilege card, and Rolfe said it averages 41,000 participants a year. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there are roughly 110,000 undocumented immigrants in Utah.
Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, voted against SB138 because she felt the program was already working and didn’t need to be fixed.
“I think the driver privilege card is one of the best public policies we have,” Robles said. “It does what it is there to do. It allows them to be legally tested and trained on the road. It lets us know where they are and that they have insurance. For me, this has always been a public safety issue.”
Renewals and new applicants under the law will now be required to go to participating law enforcement agencies — of which there are five listed — and get fingerprinted and have their photo taken.
Rolfe said the fingerprints will be filed and if an undocumented immigrant has a clean record, they are stored in a database. If the applicant commits a felony or has a warrant out for his or her arrest after being fingerprinted, the fingerprints and photo can be called up to track that person down.
There will be additional cost as well.
The fee for a new or renewed driving privilege card — which is good for a year — is $25. Now, an additional $25 fee will be tacked on to cover the storage of the fingerprinting database with the Bureau of Criminal Identification.
Ron Mortensen, co-founder of the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration, said his group supported Urquhart’s attempt to eliminate the driving privilege card but then backed this latest version.
He said his hope was it would “dissuade people from applying” and he predicted it would.
“I just think people who are here unlawfully aren’t going to want to be fingerprinted,” Mortensen said.
Tony Yapias, director of Proyecto Latino de Utah, said there has been some concern in the community about the process — but mostly among those who do have existing warrants.
Yapias said, however, the driving privilege card program is a good one that helps keep highways safe.
“We want to make sure drivers on the road have insurance and proper registration,” he said. “That hasn’t changed.”
10 suspected illegal immigrants arrested near Malibu
The suspected illegal immigrants were found after being dropped off by a smuggling boat in what authorities call one of traffickers' northernmost forays so far.
By Richard Marosi, Los Angeles Times
June 30, 2011
Ten suspected illegal immigrants were arrested Wednesday near Pacific Coast Highway after being dropped off by a smuggling boat along the coast northwest of Malibu, U.S. authorities said.
The group was spotted about 4:30 a.m. just up the coast from the Los Angeles-Ventura county line, said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A woman with a broken nose and a man with a broken leg were hospitalized, Kice said.
The maritime smuggling attempt marks one of the northernmost forays by traffickers as they try to evade increased enforcement in San Diego County, where such activity has surged dramatically in recent years.
Last year, 867 illegal immigrants and smugglers were arrested at sea or along the California coast, more than double the number in 2009. In recent months authorities have noticed an increase in smuggling-boat landings in Orange County, and they believe traffickers are now eyeing points farther north.
In March, an empty 30-foot motorboat that authorities believe was used to transport people or drugs was found off the Malibu coast. Officials have not found the vessel that may have carried the immigrants arrested Wednesday.
The pilots of smuggling boats frequently evade arrest by speeding back to Mexican waters. The boats leave from Baja California beaches, often crowded with as many as 25 immigrants who pay as much as $6,000 each for the trip.
Italian worker charged with forced labor in Calif.
Associated Press | Posted: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 4:31 pm
An Italian government worker posted at the San Francisco consulate and his wife were arrested and charged with turning a Brazilian woman into an indentured servant after luring the woman to the United States with promises of a better life.
The couple, who spent the weekend in jail and had their young children placed in the custody of Protective Services, allege they are the victims of a "scheming young woman" bent on gaining U.S. citizenship by any means. They "vehemently" deny the allegations and continue to have the support of the Italian government.
Consular General Fabrizio Marcelli is one of five people who signed for the couple's bail of $250,000 each. Marcelli also appeared at the couple's bail hearing Tuesday to assure the court that Giuseppe Penzato would remain employed at the consulate as an administrative clerk through at least Dec. 31, 2013.
Guiseppe Penzato and his wife, Kesia Penzato, were charged with one count each of forced labor, which carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.
Federal prosecutors didn't identify the woman. She also filed a lawsuit last year with similar allegations using the alias Jane Doe.
The couple are scheduled to enter their pleas next month, but in court filings and in an interview Wednesday, one of the couple's lawyers said they deny the charges and will plead not guilty at their arraignment scheduled for July 28.
A federal investigator alleges the saga began when Kesia Penzato reconnected with her childhood friend from Brazil through a social networking website in December 2008. Kesia Penzato told her friend that her life had improved since moving the United States. She was living in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, having married an Italian 20 years her senior who worked at his country's consulate in San Francisco.
Her friend's fortunes weren't so good. She was separated from her husband and on the brink of losing her health care job in Brazil.
So Kesia Penzato invited her childhood friend to come live with the family in San Francisco and work for her as a housekeeper and nanny for $1,500 a month and free lodging.
The plan was for the friend to pursue a nursing education and create a better life for her and her son in the United States. The worker alleges that she received a domestic servant visa with Giuseppe Penzato "pulling strings" to ensure her application was approved. She started in August 2009.
Three months later, the worker alleges to have fled the home with her clothes in a garbage bag and tales of indentured servitude complete with physical and sexual abuse. The worker claims in her 2010 lawsuit, and prosecutors allege in their criminal complaint filed Monday, that the Penzatos withheld pay and food from her during her three months in their home. The woman alleges that Kesia Penzato physically assaulted her twice.
The worker alleges that Giuseppe Penzato on several occasions enter the bedroom she shared with his 5-year-old daughter at night and ran his hand over her body, buttocks and breasts while she feigned sleep. She claims that Giuseppe Penzato took her passport and kept it from her for three months and made her a virtual prisoner.
She said the couple claimed the whole time that they have diplomatic immunity from criminal prosecution and she was powerless to stop them. She also alleges deputy consul Marcello Curci told her the same thing when she went to work for him for a few days after leaving the Penzatos.
Curci declined comment when reached at the consulate Wednesday. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Melissa Saurwein, the lead investigator, said in a court filing that the State Department advised the worker that the Penzatos could not invoke diplomatic immunity in this case.
The Penzatos' lawyers insist that contretemps have been blown out of proportion.
The couple's lawyers allege in court papers that "this case is nothing more than a civil wage and hour case brought by a scheming young woman to facilitate her goal of living permanently in the United States."
The woman is allowed to remain in the United States under a special process called "continued presence" that allows victims of human trafficking to temporarily live and work in the U.S. and receive Health and Human Service benefits. Douglas Schwartz, Giuseppe Penzato's lawyer, alleges the worker knew that "continued presence" is a pathway to remaining in the U.S. legally.
Schwartz also said in an interview and stated in a court filing that the worker attended classes at a community college four days a week and entertained several boyfriends with "sleepovers" during her time with the Penzatos.
"I don't know how she can claim to be a prisoner," Schwartz said.
He said the family was "traumatized" when federal agents arrested the couple Friday morning and placed the children in government custody. Schwartz speculated the arrests were made Friday morning because Kesia and her two children were scheduled to leave for Brazil later that day for a vacation. He said they had round trip tickets and intended to return.
"This should never have been ratcheted up to a criminal prosecution," Schwartz said.
Border Patrol captures 23 illegal immigrants south of Casa Grande
Published: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 9:39 AM MST
Border Patrol agents assigned to the Casa Grande station apprehended 23 illegal immigrants Monday.
Agents apprehended a man from Honduras near North Komelik. He was located after a branch struck him in the face and lodged in his eye. He was found to be wanted in Texas for homicide. Agents took him to a local hospital for treatment and extradited him to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Houston.
Central American, Sri Lankan immigrants found in Brownsville stash house
by Sergio Chapa
Posted: 06.29.2011 at 7:17 PM
A Brownsville couple is behind bars after authorities found 16 undocumented immigrants from Central America and Sri Lanka inside their home.
U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested Alejandro Gomez-Gaona and Irys Deniesse Nino on human smuggling charges on Tuesday.
Court records released in the case show that an investigation led ICE agents to a duplex on the 2300 block of Las Casas Street.
Agents found 16 immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Sri Lanka.
Both Gomez-Gaona and Nino are accused of being caretakers for the Houston-bound immigrants.
Gomez-Gaona, Nino and two immigrants being held as witnesses appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Felix Recio in Brownsville.
Court records show that Nino rented the duplex for Gomez-Gaona, who is an illegal immigrant from Mexico.
Judge Recio denied bond for Gomez-Gaona and Nino until a Friday morning hearing but granted the two immigrants held as witnesses $5,000 dollar bonds.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Native American locked-down protesters of Border Patrol call for action
Posted by Brenda Norrell - June 28, 2011 at 10:54 pm
TUCSON – Tohono O’odham and Navajo activists who locked down in protest at the US Border Patrol Headquarters in Tucson return to federal court on Wednesday, June 29. They are calling for a day of action to end abuse by Border Patrol agents and an end to the spreading militarization of Indigenous lands along the border.
Alex Soto, Tohono O’odham and one of the protesters, referring to the trespassing charge that was dropped said, “How can I, a Tohono O'odham person, be trespassing on my own land?”
The call to action on Wednesday comes after the exposure that 127 Border Patrol agents have been charged with corruption since 2004, and 267 more are under investigation, according to testimony before a Senate committee on June 9.
Still, human rights activists here, on the Arizona border, point out that federal authorities ignore the ongoing human rights abuses by Border Patrol agents toward people, ranging from beatings to rape and murder in the Sonoran Desert.
In an effort to reveal the human rights crisis at the border, six protesters, including Tohono O’odham and Navajo, locked-down and occupied the US Border Patrol Headquarters, on May 21, 2010. On Wednesday at 2 pm, they will return to federal court to fight the charge of disorderly conduct with serious disruptive behavior.
Last February, the six also stood trial for a charge of criminal trespassing. However, their defense team discovered that the trespassing charge was incorrectly filed by the State. A motion to dismiss the charge of criminal trespassing was granted by the court.
In February, as protesters appeared in federal court, more than 40 protesters took to the streets, with banners reading, “Indigenous Resistance, Protect Sacred Places,” and “Free Movement for People Not Commerce, Tear Down the Wall.” They chanted, “No Borders, No Border Patrol.” Two protesters were arrested. O’odham elders attended the court proceedings to demonstrate their support.
A banner reading, “Border Patrol out of O’odham land,” was also suspended from the “Snake Bridge” that morning before court. At one point, supporters rallied in front of the streamline courtroom, another manifestation of the systematic abuse of migrants in federal courts.
“Operation Streamline, started in 2005 is a ‘zero tolerance’ rapid court process that prosecutes hundreds of migrants a day, sometimes in shackles. Constitutional rights are also not granted and what would take multiple hearings is often a less than a two-day process of arrest and deportation,” the protesters said.
Alex Soto, Tohono O’odham, and one of the arrestees said, "It was good to see all the support last February for our initial trial proceeding. We need to continue to build, and remember this action was a prayer, and the dismissal of trespassing reaffirms that the Border Patrol troops are the real trespassers, not us.
“Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration Custom Enforcement and their corporate backers such as Wackenhut, are the true criminals. Troops and paramilitary law enforcement, detention camps, check points, and citizenship verification are not a solution to ‘issues’ of migration.
“Indigenous Peoples have existed here long before these imposed borders, and Elders inform us that we always honored freedom of movement. Why are Indigenous communities and the daily deaths at the border ignored? The impacts of border militarization are constantly being made invisible in and by the media, and the popular culture of this country. Even the mainstream immigrant rights movement has often pushed for ‘reform’ which means further militarization of the border, leading to increased suffering for Indigenous communities. Border militarization destroys Indigenous communities." Soto said.
Kevin Jose, Akimel O'odham/Tohono O’odham, and member of O’odham Solidarity Across Borders, pointed out the militarization of the border.
"During the time of this action, my thoughts ran so deep as to what else we could do and what we can make happen. Singing for them at this action was powerful and their hearts were stronger than ever.
"What the state does on the control of free movement along our traditional lands is like a chokehold to our throats. The push to militarize the border does not just affect the Tohono O’odham who live in the border region, it affects all O’odham. In Tohono, it comes in the form of a border wall, in the Gila River Indian Community; it comes in form of a freeway."
Currently the state of Arizona is pushing for the construction of the South Mountain Loop 202 freeway extension on Akimel O’odham land (Phoenix Area). The Loop 202 is part of the CANAMEX transportation corridor, which is part of the larger NAFTA highway project. The two proposed routes will either result in a loss of approximately 600 acres of tribal land, and the forced relocation of Akimel O'odham and Pee-Posh families or would gouge a 40-story high, 200-yard wide cut into Muadag Do'ag (O'odham name for South Mountain), which is sacred to all O'odham and Pee-Posh.
“Neo-liberal projects such as CANAMEX and NAFTA are attacking O’odham communities. All these attacks are connected. Support our nawoj (friends) on June 29th for their trial,” Jose said.
No More Deaths, a migrant support group, said that between October 2009 and April 2011, there were more than 338 deaths on the Arizona border alone. There have been 1,200 National Guard troops stationed along the southwestern border since June 2010. Additionally, the state of Arizona recently passed a bill which will allow for Arizona to build its own border wall. The law goes into effect July 20 of this year.
While Native Americans protest the abuse of Border Patrol, the mainstream media fails to expose the abuse and corruption.
On June 9, Alan Bersin, commissioner of Customs and Border Patrol, testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery and Intergovernmental Affairs.
Bersin said, “Since 2004 in October, 127 CBP personnel have been arrested, charged or convicted of corruption.”
Charles Edwards, the acting Inspector General for the Dept. of Homeland Security, testified before the committee that there are 267 active corruption-related investigations underway of Customs and Border Patrol personnel.
As the six protesters prepared to return to federal court, they demanded actions to end border militarization and the criminalization of their Indigenous communities.
They demanded the immediately withdrawal of National Guard Troops from the US/Mexico border and the halt to development of the border wall. Further, they pressed for the immediate removal of drones and checkpoints, the decommissioning of all detention camps and the release of all presently held undocumented migrants.
Indigenous Peoples rights of self-determination must be honored, they said. Further, they pressed for implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, respect for Indigenous Peoples inherent right of migration and an end to NAFTA, FTAA and other trade agreements
Protesters called for the immediate end to the CANAMEX/NAFTA highway projects, including the South Mountain Freeway. They urged immediate repeal of SB1070 and 287g, and an end to all racial profiling.
Protesters demanded a halt to Border Patrol sweeps on sovereign Native land, an end to raids and deportations and an immediate and unconditional regularization (“legalization”) of all people. Pressing for the US to uphold human freedom and rights, they called for repeal of HB 2281. Further, they urged support for dignity and respect and support to ensure freedom of movement for all people.
As the xenophobic media coverage continues of the border, the private prison industry continues to profit from incarcerating migrants.
Also see the LulzSec files:
Hackers reveal Marines as contract killers, hunting migrants on the border
Man found drunk, passed out is illegal immigrant
Published: June 29, 2011
Hazleton police said a man found passed out and intoxicated in a doorway Monday night turned out to be an illegal immigrant.
Miguel Reynoso, of the 300 block of West Broad Street, was found at 10:42 p.m. at the rear of 37 N. Laurel St., police said.
It was later discovered that Reynoso was in the country illegally and had a previous detainer from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which sent a new detainer to police and agents responded to pick him up.
Dream Act backers identify themselves despite deportation risk
by Erin Kelly - Jun. 29, 2011 12:00 AM
Republic Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Twenty-one-year-old Angelica Hernandez stood proudly when Sen. Dick Durbin introduced her to his colleagues Tuesday as the 2011 valedictorian of the mechanical-engineering class at Arizona State University.
But even as the Phoenix resident was being acknowledged for her accomplishment, she was being publicly identified as an illegal immigrant in front of federal immigration officials.
Hernandez and thousands of other college and high-school students throughout the country are increasingly willing to risk deportation for their cause. They call themselves "Dreamers," supporters of the Dream Act. The bill would allow some illegal immigrants, such as Hernandez, who were brought here as children to gain legal status if they attend college or serve in the U.S. military.
Hernandez was one of several hundred young immigrants who attended a hearing Tuesday of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering the legislation. She has been an outspoken advocate of the Dream Act in Arizona and was one of about a half-dozen immigrant success stories that Durbin, D-Ill., cited as he urged his colleagues to approve the bill he first introduced a decade ago.
"We're not afraid anymore," Hernandez said in an interview. "I think that coming out publicly is something that needs to be done. I've seen how effective it has been for people to stand up and put a real face to this issue. I think it is a risk, but I think it's a risk worth taking."
So far, there is no indication that young immigrants such as Hernandez have been targeted after speaking out about their status. But some people say they should be.
A spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which opposes the Dream Act, said people who publicly identify themselves as illegal immigrants should face deportation.
"I'm not sure if doing it in the middle of a congressional hearing is the best way to do it, but certainly once people have identified themselves as being here in violation of the law, it's a responsibility for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to collect that information and at least put them on their to-do list," said Ira Mehlman, the group's national media director.
But Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has other illegal immigrants much higher on her deportation to-do list.
There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, and Napolitano said she does not have the resources to catch them all. Napolitano, whose department oversees ICE, told the committee her priority is to find and deport illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes or are suspected of terrorist activity.
She said students who would qualify for legal status under the Dream Act "pose no threat" and would not be targeted for speaking out. Still, she said, she could not give them blanket immunity from deportation.
"The policy of the department is there can be no categorized amnesty, which is why Congress should act (to protect the students)," Napolitano said after testifying in support of the Dream Act.
Her boss, President Barack Obama, has repeatedly called on Congress to pass the law.
Since it was first introduced in 2001, the Dream Act has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee four times. It also passed the full Senate in 2006 but died when the House didn't take up the measure. In December, the lame-duck Democratic House passed the Dream Act for the first time in the bill's 10-year legislative history. It was killed the same week in the Senate.
However, the current Congress is unlikely to adopt the legislation, which Republican leaders in the House have denounced as a form of amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Mehlman said his federation agrees that ICE should prioritize its cases and go after the worst criminals first. But, he said, that doesn't mean they should let young illegal immigrants off the hook because some of them are good students.
"The local police don't stop writing parking tickets while they're going after murderers," he said. "But this administration has made it clear they're not going to enforce the law except against people they consider violent felons."
ICE agents dragging students away from a congressional hearing or rally is not the kind of image the agency wants, said Louis DeSipio, an associate professor of Chicano/Latino studies at the University of California-Irvine.
"I think ICE would try to avoid that role whether the administration was Democratic or Republican," DeSipio said. "It would not only be a public-relations disaster at the time of the detention but throughout the whole process of deporting them."
Public sympathy for the young, accomplished immigrants has helped immigrant-rights groups keep them from being deported even when ICE agents do arrest them, said Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America's Voice, a group that supports the Dream Act.
"The community rallies to their defense, we get a lot of press, and there is pressure on (ICE) headquarters," Sharry said. "Most of the time, we are able to save the kids from deportation."
Adey Fisseha, a policy attorney with the National Immigration Law Center, said the center has about 45 cases with immigrants facing deportation who would get to stay under the Dream Act. She said many of them were arrested after traffic stops by local or state police who checked their immigration status.
She worries about students taking the risk of publicly identifying themselves. "But they tell me that it's a way of reclaiming their humanity, of coming out of the shadows and owning who they are," she said.
Hernandez, the ASU valedictorian, said she isn't too worried.
"I really find it hard to believe that they would target all of us," she said.
"How would that look if, instead of going after people committing crimes, they go after talented individuals who are going to school and getting educated? It wouldn't look good."
6 young illegal immigrants arrested in Ga. protest
By KATE BRUMBACK , 06.29.11, 08:24 AM EDT
ATLANTA -- Six young illegal immigrants were arrested Tuesday after they sat down and blocked traffic near the Georgia state Capitol to publicly declare their status and to protest state policies targeting people who are in the U.S. illegally, the latest in a string of such "coming out" events in Georgia and other parts of the country.
The young people were protesting a policy that bars Georgia's most competitive state colleges and universities from accepting illegal immigrants and they were opposing strict new state legislation. A federal judge on Monday blocked two key provisions of that law. The young people, who decided to risk arrest and deportation for their protest, say that's not enough.
Federal judges have now blocked parts of similar laws in Arizona, Utah, Indiana and Georgia from taking effect. Civil liberties groups have pledged to sue to block others in Alabama and South Carolina.
"It's time to stand up and let the world know that we need to fight for what we believe in," said Nataly Ibarra, a 16-year-old high school student.
Four of the young people arrested are high school students, one is a recent high school graduate and one is a 24-year-old college graduate. All six face charges of reckless conduct, obstructing law enforcement and obstructing the street. The three who are under 18 were to be released to their parents. Two 18-year-olds and the 24-year-old were set to be taken to the Fulton County Jail.
Barbara Gonzalez, press secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, issued a statement after the arrests: "ICE takes enforcement action on a case by case basis - prioritizing those who present the most significant threats to public safety as determined by their criminal history and taking into consideration the specific facts of each case, including immigration history."
Last year, four young people were arrested during a sit-in at U.S. Sen. John McCain's office in Arizona. Students at several suburban Atlanta high schools staged walkouts last month, and a group of seven illegal immigrant young people were arrested in April after they sat down in a downtown Atlanta street and blocked traffic to call attention to their situation. Five others were arrested in May at the Indiana office of Gov. Mitch Daniels after a protest grew confrontational.
Many of the activists hold out hope for the DREAM Act, legislation that would provide a path to legalization for certain young people brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. The bill has been introduced several times in Congress without success. A Senate subcommittee held a hearing on the legislation Tuesday.
Several dozen students in their caps and gowns attended the hearing, despite their status as illegal immigrants. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., introduced several who had demonstrated excellence in many facets of life but were unable to get jobs in their chosen fields.
"They want to serve the country they love," Durbin said. "All they want is a chance."
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said lawmakers from both parties have compassion for the students who would be helped by the legislation, but he said the details are important. He pointed to changes that he believes are necessary for the bill before it can gain more Republican support.
Opponents of the DREAM Act often agree that young people brought here when they're young have compelling stories. But giving them a path to legalization could create increased competition for young Americans who already are having trouble finding jobs, they say.
The Georgia university system last fall adopted a policy barring state colleges and universities that have rejected academically qualified students in the prior two years from accepting illegal immigrants.
Judge Thomas Thrash on Monday ruled on a request by civil liberties groups to block Georgia's new illegal immigration law from taking effect until a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality is resolved. Thrash temporarily blocked a provision that authorizes police to check the immigration status of suspects without proper identification and to detain illegal immigrants and another that penalizes people who knowingly and willingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants while committing another crime.
The law's author, state Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, has said it's needed to keep illegal immigrants from draining the state's resources.
Many parts of the law will take effect Friday. One of them makes it a felony to use false information or documentation when applying for a job. Another creates an immigration review board to investigate complaints about government officials not complying with state laws related to illegal immigration.
Starting Jan. 1, businesses with 500 or more employees must use a federal database to check the immigration status of new hires. That requirement will be phased in for all businesses with more than 10 employees by July 2013. Also starting Jan. 1, applicants for public benefits must provide at least one state or federally issued "secure and verifiable" document.
Also on Tuesday, the Birmingham, Ala., City Council unanimously approved a resolution seeking the repeal of Alabama's new law targeting illegal immigration, with members calling it a hateful reminder of the state's not-too-distant past as a bastion of legalized racial segregation.
Associated Press Writer Kevin Freking in Washington, D.C., contributed to this story.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Daniel Rubin: Brazilian couple denied a day in court to gain citizenship
By Daniel Rubin
Posted on Mon, Jun. 27, 2011
Nearly two weeks ago, a Brazilian couple walked into the offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at Second and Chestnut and asked a clerk whether he'd like to deport them.
Livia Maria Borges, the wife, was so nervous she had to squeeze back tears. Her husband, Welismar De Jesus, was a little calmer. Their lawyer had assured them there was little risk of their having to say goodbye to the good, though illegal, life they had built in Northeast Philadelphia during the last decade.
In fact, getting before an immigration judge was the goal of the June 15 visit, because in 18 years of practicing law, David Piver had not seen a stronger argument for making an exception to the rules that govern what happens when illegal immigrants turn themselves in.
As Piver imagined it, an enforcement officer would issue a notice for the couple to appear before a judge. Then Piver could plead for something called a cancellation of removal, which the law allows in special cases.
And this case was special. The couple had satisfied the basics - they had lived in the country for a decade and committed no crimes. They had even paid taxes on earnings made under the table - you can do that with a taxpayer ID number.
But one last element made their case most compelling:
Their deportation would result in unusual hardship to their youngest daughter, who choked 18 months ago while eating, leaving her with permanent brain damage.
The 3-year-old, Cindy Borges-De Jesus, no longer speaks or walks. She is totally dependent on those who care for her - her parents and the nurses who spend 16 hours a day with her.
Because she was born here, Cindy is a U.S. citizen. And taxpayers are picking up the cost of her care. Her parents say they wanted to come clean so they could end a decade of limbo and be better able to support her.
In the last three years, Piver had taken 10 clients to ICE for processing, and in half of those cases a judge granted permanent residency. Piver considered the Brazilians "the poster children for cancellation of removal cases."
But it's hard to get a hit if you can't get up to bat. After about 90 minutes of conferring, ICE officials turned the couple away.
According to Piver, the enforcement officer and his supervisors said the office had a policy not to open cases against people who were looking for relief in court.
Piver isn't sure there is such a policy. Maybe, he said, it's that the law is applied inconsistently.
Harold Ort, an ICE spokesman, said his agency had discretion whether to place people in removal proceedings. Decisions are made, he said, "on a case-by-case basis, as appropriate."
Borges, 28, and De Jesus, 34, were looking for opportunity when they decided to move to the United States. She had just finished high school in 2000, and overstayed her tourist visa. He owned a small clothing factory, and walked across the border from Mexico, ultimately joining an uncle in Philadelphia.
Within a week he was cleaning houses. Within a year he was working construction. She studied English, then worked as a domestic until having the first of their children seven years ago.
De Jesus said permanent residency would allow him to earn a Pennsylvania driver's license and find a better-paying job.
Borges wants to be able to go to college and study occupational therapy so she can help her daughter. She said she had nearly broken under the emotional weight of caring for a severely disabled child without the support of her parents, whom she hasn't seen in a decade.
"God help me," she said. "I have to be strong to take care of my house, my husband, and my kids."
Seems to me ICE shouldn't get to make this call. If the law allows for consideration in special cases, these people should have their day in court - at least for the sake of their daughter.
Illegal aliens reported in Brant
June 26, 2011
BRANT - On Wednesday, state police assisted two teams of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents with the arrest of two illegal aliens in the Town of Brant.
Both had been previously deported to Mexico and returned to the United States. Camerino Bautista-Bautista, 29, and Felipe Bautista-Bautista, 34, both of Brant-Reservation Road in Brant were turned over to I.C.E. officers.
Camerino was located at his residence. Felipe was arrested after a traffic stop on Ellis Road.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Visa denials keep son from dad in U.S.
Queensbury man is frustrated in hopes to arrange short visit: "He's not some gangster"
By PAUL GRONDAHL Staff writer
Published 12:01 a.m., Sunday, June 26, 2011
QUEENSBURY -- Hopkin Williams thought it would be a simple matter to have his 22-year-old son, Carlos, who lives in the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, visit him this summer for a few weeks.
They were planning trips to the Adirondacks and New York City.
But the U.S. Consulate in Ecuador has twice denied the Queensbury man's son a visitor visa, known as a B-2 visa, designed for brief visits to the United States for purposes of "pleasure or tourism."
"America is supposed to be this great, welcoming country," said Williams, 49, a food-safety inspector with the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, who is an Army veteran. "Now, I feel like my country has let me down."
Williams has struggled with the heartache of the denials and has poured more than $5,000 into his son's quest on long-distance phone calls, airline tickets and hotel stays. He traveled 3,000 miles in April to Guayaquil, Ecuador, to speak on his son's behalf during a second visitor visa application. Instead, Williams was made to wait for two hours outside the office under a scorching equatorial sun.
Their anticipated celebration turned into yet another crushing disappointment.
"We're trapped in this terrible situation. He just wants to visit his father. He's not some gangster with tattoos and scars," said Williams, who has vowed to continue fighting on behalf of his son. He has sought assistance from the offices of U.S. Rep Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. A Gibson staffer sent a letter in support, and Gillibrand's aides have begun working behind the scenes on the visa appeal. Meanwhile, Williams has gathered dozens of signatures on a self-styled petition he's been circulating.
Despite his multipronged attack and efforts to apply political pressure, the U.S. Consulate can be a tough nut to crack.
"It can be frustrating, but the consulate has absolute authority when it comes to approving B visas, and their discretion really can't be challenged," said Seth Leech, a partner with Whiteman Osterman & Hanna in Albany who specializes in immigration cases. "It might not seem fair or right, but there's very little recourse after two denials."
The consulate indicated the visa denials were based on one aspect of the complicated review process, namely "binding ties that will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit."
Williams and his son put together an extensive stack of documentation that proves his deep roots in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island in the central Galapagos: a job at a tourist hotel, a new wife, a mortgage on their first house and his mother, who runs a restaurant there that caters to tourists. The consulate officials gave the documentation only a cursory glance, according to Williams' son.
Williams had a brief relationship with the restaurateur in 1988, when he was employed by Piedmont Airlines and traveled frequently, including to the Galapagos Islands. The two never married, but their son, Carlos Galvan, was born on Dec. 9, 1988. Williams has been a presence in his son's life and has flown to see him in Galapagos many times. But the one-way nature of their relationship has taken a toll.
Williams, who is single, has two brothers living in Florida, where his ailing mother also lives. But he's estranged from his siblings.
"I feel like Carlos is my only family, and he's starved for a father's influence, and I miss my son," Williams said. "We've grown closer and closer, and I just want him to be able to visit me here."
Following efforts by congressional staffers on the son's behalf, Williams was told the denials were likely spurred by a recent crackdown on visitors from poor countries coming to the U.S. on B visas, never returning and disappearing in this country as illegals -- assisted by shadowy stateside middlemen working for profit.
Ecuador is an impoverished South American country where the average family gets by on less than $10,000 a year and one-third of the population lives below the poverty line.
"It's absurd to think I'm trying to make money by smuggling him into the U.S.," Williams said. "His wife, his job, his mom, his house and everything in his life is back in Galapagos."
Although the two have not completed DNA testing to prove paternity, Williams said there is no question based on their facial resemblance, striking similarities between what each of them likes in food and clothing, and discussions with his son's mother, with whom Williams remains on good terms.
Leech said Williams' best strategy in clearing the visa roadblock might be to get the DNA testing and try to move forward on attaining U.S. citizenship for Carlos Galvan based on his father's status as a U.S. citizen.
"Being turned down twice is not a complete dead-end," Leech said. "Pushing hard behind the scenes might elevate the case and turn things around. But I think the best opportunity might be pursuing U.S. citizenship for his son."
For now, Williams tries to remain hopeful and gathers strength by re-reading his son's Father's Day letter.
"I don't say it very often, but I love you, Dad. Your son, Carlos."
Several Illegals Arrested During Chase in McCook
Last Update: 10:09 am 6/26/2011
MCCOOK- Authorities are speaking to several illegal immigrants who were busted during an overnight police pursuit.
A state trooper tried pulling over the driver of a red Ford Ranger near FM 490 and 681. He refused to stop and the chase was on.
DPS Trooper Johnny Hernandez says the pursuit ended with a bailout on a dirt road. At least 5 illegal immigrants were found laying in the bed of the truck.
Still no word if their smuggler or the driver of the truck were arrested.
Henrico woman faces deportation
By MICHAEL MARTZ
Published: June 26, 2011
The plight of a Henrico County woman, a legal immigrant facing deportation to a country she hasn't seen since she was 7, is testing new federal guidelines on enforcing immigration law.
Karinna Somoza, 42, of Glen Allen is the mother of three American children and has been married to an American citizen for more than 20 years. She came to the United States from El Salvador when she was 7 and to Chesterfield County two years later. Her father and sister still live in Chesterfield.
Yet, Somoza is facing deportation to El Salvador as early as this week because she shoplifted $50 in merchandise from a Henrico department store six years ago.
Her sentence then — two years with all but three months suspended — classifies her now as an aggravated felon, subject to deportation under a 1996 federal law that prevents immigration judges from intervening.
"It's a sad situation," said her sister, Leslie Somoza. "They're not even going to look at the fact there are three children involved."
But federal immigration officials do have discretion to consider Somoza's children and other factors, under guidelines on prosecutorial discretion released less than two weeks ago by the director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the Department of Homeland Security.
Director John Morton, in a memorandum issued June 17, directs all ICE officers, agents and attorneys to consider a person's length of stay as a legal immigrant, "particularly if the alien came to the United States as a young child."
They also are supposed to consider the person's family relationships and ties to the community here, as well as ties to the home country and conditions there.
Given the limited resources to enforce U.S. immigration law, the agency "must regularly exercise 'prosecutorial discretion' if it is to prioritize its efforts," Morton said.
Those priorities, he said, are "promotion of national security, border security, public safety and the integrity of the immigration system."
* * * * *
ICE spokeswoman Cori W. Bassett said Friday that Morton's memorandum does not change the department's decision to deport Somoza. She said it clearly states that "the exercise of discretion is clearly inappropriate in cases involving threats to public safety."
Bassett said Somoza's shoplifting conviction makes her an aggravated felon "eliminating the possibility of discretionary relief from removal as well as the possibility of naturalization."
The department's priorities are "first and foremost criminal offenders and national security threats," the spokeswoman said, adding that Somoza's conviction makes her a criminal offender.
None of the department's priorities would be advanced by deporting Somoza, said Jim Tom Haynes, her Washington immigration attorney.
Haynes said the memo had two purposes: "The first is to make sure that injustice is not done. The second is to work smart and use their resources efficiently. I don't see how they're accomplishing either goal here."
"I don't see ICE using any common sense or compassion," he said.
Haynes has experience in fighting these kinds of battles, sparked by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. The law greatly broadened the government's power to detain and deport legal residents for crimes committed here.
But the law defines even misdemeanors as aggravated felonies if they carry a sentence of a year or more, even if the entire sentence is suspended.
This month, Haynes savored a final victory with a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals to terminate deportation proceedings against a Northern Virginia woman whose detention seven years ago ignited a political backlash.
The woman, Mi-Choong O'Brien, was manacled, jailed and marked for deportation to South Korea, even though she had been married for 25 years to a U.S. citizen and had four children, all but one born here.
Her crime was stealing from an employer. She had served a month of her three-year sentence for embezzlement and repaid her employer. She was detained by ICE agents at a meeting with her probation officer and held at regional jails across Virginia.
O'Brien's deportation was deferred in 2004 after her story became public and a Virginia congressman intervened on her behalf. Seven years later, the government finally terminated all proceedings against her.
* * * * *
In Somoza's case, she's paying a dear price for a crime she didn't know she was committing — not only for shoplifting a bra and other clothing from a Kohl's store in 2005.
Two years earlier, she was convicted of petit larceny for using her identification to pawn two musical instruments that her husband said he had been given by his father. Her husband, Eric J. Singleton, had stolen them from his father, Royal, then a retired music teacher in the Richmond school system and a performer in local symphonies.
Singleton, who was addicted to heroin then, said he never told his wife he had taken the flute and clarinet. Nor did he tell her he had stolen a valuable oboe from his father and sold it for $200.
After his father called police, they discovered the pawned instruments under her identification. Singleton served jail time and underwent drug rehabilitation.
His wife was not jailed but was put on probation. She was done with probation two years later, but those two earlier petit larceny convictions made her a three-time offender when she was convicted of shoplifting.
That resulted in a sentence that ultimately landed her in indefinite detention last fall after an altercation with a neighbor.
"I feel like it's my fault," her husband, Eric, said recently. "I just feel so bad. I've had my problems. I'm a recovering addict. I did what I did."
"She's being deported for something she didn't do," he said.
Haynes is trying to prevent that from happening. Last week, he asked ICE officials to reconsider their decisions not to stop or delay the deportation process, especially in light of the guidance issued by Morton.
In a request to ICE attorneys Monday, he said Somoza has lived as a legal permanent resident in the U.S. for almost 35 years. Her entire family is here, not in El Salvador or Honduras, where her mother was born.
"It mentions ties to the home country and conditions in El Salvador," Haynes said of the Morton memo. "She has absolutely no one in El Salvador and the conditions there are horrific. She will have no protection and no support."
Her father, Oscar Somoza, is fearful of what would await his daughter in El Salvador, which she hasn't seen since leaving as a child.
"My country's not safe right now," he said at his home in Chester. "Nobody's going to be waiting for her."
At home in Glen Allen, however, Somoza's three daughters — Kalah, 16; Erin, 12; and Maya, 9 — have been waiting for their mother since Halloween. That was the day she was detained. It also was Maya's 9th birthday.
"In the past five months, I've learned to do so many things on my own," Maya wrote an immigration judge, "but it's always nice (to) have my caring mommy here with me."
Immigration officials name suspect in Midland chase
June 25, 2011 11:12 AM
MIDLAND A man who led Midland police officers on a chase by car and foot Friday afternoon has been re-identified by Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a fugitive wanted by Interpol.
Midland police believed they had 43-year-old Francisco Lozano Baeza in custody but ICE identified him as Javier Barragan Valdez, with the same birth date. Valdez had identification on him naming him as Baeza, Midland Police Department Public Information Officer LeeAnn Dearman said.
Around 4:30 p.m. Friday, Midland police attempted to make an investigative traffic stop on Lamesa Road near Interstate 20. Dearman said she did not know why police were trying to make the traffic stop but it was not because they suspected the driver was Valdez and wanted by ICE. A Midland police news release stated Valdez headed south into county, evading officers for 15 minutes, after which he stopped and abandoned the vehicle on County Road 1130, just south of County Road 160.
A K-9 unit was called in after Valdez ran off through a pasture, the release said. The Department of Public Safety and the Sheriff’s office set up a perimeter and assisted MPD with the ground pursuit. DPS also provided an aircraft for better view of the perimeter.
One of the K-9s located Valdez in heavy brush about a quarter-mile from the abandoned vehicle. Vadez resisted arrest, the release stated, and was bitten by the K-9. He was treated at the scene and later taken to Midland Memorial Hospital for treatment.
Lilana Cabrera and their 1-year-old son were in the vehicle with Valdez during the pursuit, the release stated. Valdez was apprehended at 5:57 p.m.
He was being held Saturday on facing charges of evading officers in a motor vehicle, endangering a child and resisting arrest, and was being held without bond on an immigration violation detainer.
Valdez has an Interpol warrant from Mexico in connection with kidnapping and sexual assault, the release stated. He could not be located on Interpol’s public website, however.
Public records show Valdez as having numerous other aliases: Frank, Kike, Lozano and Quintin Baeza, as well as Jabier, Kike and Kiko Valdez-Barrigan, and Quintin Lozano. A second date of birth, Dec. 1, 1968, was given in addition to the same provided by Midland police, March 16, 1968.
Public records showed Valdez’s American criminal history goes back to 1988 in Andrews County on a charge of unauthorized use of a vehicle, according to public records, but it was unclear Saturday which identity he was accused under. Public records show Valdez serving prison time from 1988 to 1992, before being paroled, and most recently pleading guilty to failure to identify/giving false information, a class B misdemeanor.
However, the Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office website states that June 2, 1991, a “Francisco Baeza Lozano,” born March 16, 1968, was arrested by San Angelo police on several misdemeanor charges, including failure to identify. That man, who gave an Odessa address, is listed with aliases Joel Tarango Ortega, Francisco G. Ortega, and also Javier Barragan Valdez.
Confusing things even more, the identity the man supposedly first gave is apparently accused of a similar crime.
A Sept. 22, 2000, story from the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News describes a “Francisco Baeza Lozano,” then 32, as a well-known by the Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Texas authorities.
“Special agent Michael Riebau said he's been told that Baeza Lozano is ‘a very, very violent person,’ ” the Mountain News reported at the time, claiming he was wanted on charges of murder in Mexico and attempted murder in Kansas.
A March 24, 2001, an English-language press release from the Mexican Attorney General’s office identifying a man as “Francisco Baeza Lozano,” “Isidro Lugan” and “Francisco Quintin Baeza” announced the man’s deportation and stated he was wanted in connection with “his probable responsibility in the commission of the crime of homicide of Cruz Flores Serna.” No information about this homicide could be obtained Saturday.
Then a Feb. 5, 2009, news release from the Office of the President of Mexico announces the deportation of a “Francisco Baeza Lozano” accused of the crimes of sexual assault and deprivation of freedom (“los delitos de violación y privación de la libertad”). Photos courtesy the Mexican Attorney General’s Office at the time of deportation also show a man who appears to resembles the Javier Barragan Valdez in custody at the Midland County Detention Center, although the images are somewhat small making identification less certain.
The news release also stated the person being deported had been in prison in Colorado on narcotics charges (“en una prisión en el estado de Colorado, donde cumplía una sentencia por cargos de narcotráfico”).
Dearman said more information would be available from Midland detectives following their briefings Monday.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
ICE pulls immigration detainees from Weber jail
BY ROXANA ORELLANA
THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
First published Jun 24 2011 08:56PM
About 30 immigration detainees housed at the Weber County Jail were transferred to other jails in the state this week as the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency conducts a review of the facility.
ICE wants “to ensure it is in full compliance with the agency’s stringent national detention standards,” said spokeswoman Virginia Kice.
The relocation of the detainees will allow ICE’s Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations to do a thorough review of the jail, she added.
Kice did not elaborate on what prompted the relocation or review of the facility.
The current contract between the two agencies for the housing of detainees began in March 2009 and will remain in effect while the review is being done. The detainees, however, will be housed in other jails. The contract would remain effective unless terminated by either party with written notice.
“We value our partnership with Weber County and are currently providing all possible assistance to help the county correct any deficiencies,” Kice said.
The detainees were relocated Wednesday, most of them to the Utah County Jail.
Weber County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Klint Anderson said the county doesn’t know the reason behind the relocation, but was told it was temporary.
We are waiting for their final report to come out to see if they found any issues and what they are,” Anderson said. He said ICE does periodic inspections and the jail has done well.
Anderson suggested that the death of an inmate in March may have prompted the ICE review. Amra Miletic,a Bosnian national woman, was being housed at the Weber County Jail while going through immigration removal proceedings. She was found unconscious in her cell and transported to a local hospital, where she died from an apparent heart attack.
“It’s probably just protocol to conduct an investigation when there is death like that,” Anderson said. “But we know it wasn’t anything that we were negligent in.”
Until the report is completed Anderson said the county does not know what issues, if any, there are.
Teens stand up to deportations
Plight of student stopped for speeding propels cause
4:21 AM, Jun. 25, 2011
Chris Echegaray | The Tennessean
Mercedes Gonzalez was stopped for speeding — going 48 mph in a 40 mph zone — several days before her Overton High School graduation in May.
Because she did not have a driver’s license, the 18-year-old girl was detained and screened for deportation.
Gonzalez, who was born in Mexico and moved here when she was 11, was released on her own recognizance. She will appear in immigration court, but no date has been set. She did not want to comment on the case.
Nationwide, students — both documented and undocumented — have launched a youth movement to persuade the federal government to change its immigration policies and help children like Gonzalez who were brought to the United States illegally. The students have initiated letter-writing campaigns and lobbied for support through Internet blogs and social media. A rally is planned at the Georgia State Capitol on Tuesday.
“The undocumented student movement is, perhaps, the most impressive contemporary social movement in the U.S.,” said University of Washington professor Roberto Gonzales, who studies undocumented youth’s transition to adulthood. “Largely, through their own efforts, students have led coordinated national efforts to fight deportations and pressure elected officials to pay attention to them.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton released a memo telling staff to use “prosecutorial discretion” and prioritize the cases. Some deportation cases get deferred, which means immigration officials set them aside indefinitely.
Mercedes Gonzalez’s lawyers have asked federal agents to drop her case. Even if they do she will still be in legal limbo. Agents may drop deportation proceedings, but that simply puts undocumented immigrants right back in an illegal status waiting for the next traffic stop.
Generally speaking, there is no path to legal citizenship or lawful residency if an immigrant came into the country illegally unless he marries a U.S. citizen, said Nashville immigration attorney Elliott Ozment. Even then, the illegal immigrant would have to leave the country first and receive approval to re-enter.
When deportation proceedings are deferred, the immigrant gets an employment card that allows him to get a job, a driver’s license and a Social Security number, but he is “at the mercy of ICE, and they can revoke that at any time. It’s not anything you’re entitled to, and it doesn’t give you a right to stay here,” Ozment said. “That’s the whole reason passage of the DREAM Act is so necessary.”
The DREAM Act would provide a path for children brought here illegally with no say in the matter to become citizens by going to college or joining the military.
287(g) checks status
When Gonzalez was stopped and could not produce a driver’s license, a Metro police officer asked her for other forms of identification, records show. She didn’t have any.
Under a program named 287(g), Davidson County deputies run all foreign-born inmates through an immigration database and hold them for possible deportation.
A review of 287(g) data shows six 18-year-olds in Tennessee are facing deportation this year, stemming from driving without a license. Last year, 22 teens faced deportation for the same infraction.
Overall, there were about 1,500 people under the age of 21, charged with felonies and misdemeanors, facing deportation since the program started in Davidson County in 2007. Juveniles are not checked for immigration status in Davidson County unless they are booked into the adult jail.
In some cases, the teenagers do not realize they are here illegally until their late teens when they go for jobs or driver’s licenses or want to go to college, Gonzales said.
Supporters have begun blogging about Gonzalez and asking for signatures on a petition at United We Dream, a national youth-led organization that seeks equal access to higher education, regardless of immigration status.
The Rev. Jay Vorhees, of Old Hickory United Methodist Church in Nashville, blogged about Gonzalez’s plight.
“I don’t think folks are aware of this issue with students,” he said. “There is a lot of perceptions of people who cross the border. For the most part, these students have grown up here in the states in our midst. Kids, in Mercedes’ case, are getting arrested for what the rest of us would be a normal ticket.’’
Parents are to blame for bringing them to the country illegally, said D.A. King, president of Georgia’s Dustin Inman Society, an organization that favors stricter immigration laws.
“Should they be deported according to the law? Yes,” King said.
But King said if there were satisfactory legislation to help these students, he would probably support it.
“These students have grown up here and are Tennesseans through and through with Southern accents,” said Amelia Post, of Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Rights Coalition, who helps students coordinate their efforts.
Locally, students were successful in getting a deferment and stopping the deportation of Manolo Lem, who moved here when he was 2. His Chinese parents brought him from Venezuela.
Lem, 21 at the time, had just graduated from Middle Tennessee State University when federal agents appeared at his door.
Students circulated petitions to keep Lem from being deported.
“I had a lot of support,” said Lem, 24. “Without that, I don’t think I would’ve been able to stay.’’
In a worst-case scenario, his family could have been split up across three continents. His brother was born here and could stay, but Manolo could have been sent back to Venezuela and his parents back to China.
Arely Bravo, 18, a senior at Overton High School, wants the deportation of students to end.
“So many students work hard in school and want to participate,” she said. “To have that taken away from you in minutes is unfair.”
Arrest Made In Sex Offense Case
Detective Sonya Matthews arrested Mario Alberto TELLEZ Ordaz this past week . He was charged on June 23rd with three counts of Statutory Rape and Sex Offense. The victim in the case was less than 6 years of age. He is being held under $75,000 bond.
In addition to these charges, Mr. Ordaz has been previously deported and will now face federal prosecution as well, due to the serious nature of these charges.
Sheriff Rick Davis stated, "This arrest highlights the illegal immigration problem. I am just thankful to have our 287g program and our partnership with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which holds suspects accountable to the maximum level possible."
Illegal alien charged with luring child leads to illegal labor arrests
June 25, 2011 8:14 am ET
On Thursday, police in Williamsport, PA, arrested Adrian Arriaga Castro, after he lured a 12-year-old girl into his truck and allegedly began touching her.
The girl’s mother, Lucinda Campbell, told police that she discovered her daughter in a pickup truck with Castro who was parked across from the YWCA.
According to the police report, Castro pulled up beside the girl, opened the passenger door and talked her into entering the truck. Castro told her she was “pretty” and started rubbing her arm. When her mother arrived, the girl got out of the truck and the illegal alien fled from the scene.
Officer Marlin Smith II traced the Mexican national back to his apartment building, and the young girl identified him.
Castro was charged with one count of luring a child into a motor vehicle and one count of harassment. He is currently being held in the Lycoming County Prison on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer.
During the course of the investigation, Williamsport police also discovered more than a dozen other illegal aliens.
Williamsport Bureau of Police Captain Raymond O. Kontz III told Northcentralpa.com: “Because of this police investigation, 16 illegal immigrants were detained by I.C.E. officers from the Department of Homeland Security.”
He continued: “All of these illegals were rooming at 345 West Third Street and 309 Elmira St and working for GPX Surveyor, a gas company originating from Houston Texas.”
The landlord, Enrique Castillo, leased the apartments to the gas company about two months ago.
According to Castillo, GPX was paying between $1,500 and $2,000 a month for the two- and three-bedroom units.
Following the arrests Williamsport Mayor Gabriel J. Campana held a press conferrence, and made the following statement:
"I don't want illegal aliens living here and I want the gas industry or any companies to know - whether they are used for labor or living in housing complexes - we will do everything in our power to prevent this.
Landlords working with gas companies need to protect themselves. It is the responsibility of the companies to ensure individuals they hire are legal citizens. But the landlords need to do a better job of knowing who is residing on their properties."
Friday, June 24, 2011
Immigration Victory, Deportation Case Finally Dropped
Bangladeshi native struggled for years for residency
By Zack Stieber
Epoch Times Staff
June 23, 2011
NEW YORK—Some say the American Dream is dead, a product of the past. To one young man from Bangladesh, it is alive and well and invokes hope for the future; enough to spend over eight years of his life battling for his right to his own American Dream.
Mohammed Azam watched a college friend get deported back to Bangladesh after being discovered as an illegal immigrant. Azam feared he would be next.
“Every day when I got out from my house, I was always nervous that I would be in the same position as my friend,” said Mohammed Azam.
After years of legal proceedings in relation to his immigration status, with yearlong lulls in the process, finally a decision has been reached. Due to pressure brought against the government by a letter signed by 20 politicians, as well as media coverage of Azam’s case, the deportation case brought by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been dropped.
Described by elected officials as a “model citizen,” 26-year-old Azam has resided in the United States since he was nine-years-old, has worked at a Häagen Dazs ice cream store for years, is a college graduate, and has no criminal background.
The controversial proceedings seem to have begun in 2003 when he voluntarily registered with the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), which was created after 9/11 to keep track of male foreign nationals older then 16 years of age from regions like Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, with nonpermanent resident status in the United States.
In 2001, Azam’s father applied for federal labor certification, and under a federal program, would be granted a green card as well. The certification ended up taking so long that Azam went from being a young man in high school to an adult.
The ICE tried to deport him on the basis of his father not receiving the certification until Azam was an adult; saying the newly gained status did not apply to him. Since then, the case has been in continual limbo, with years of waiting for a verdict.
In 2007, a judge terminated the case because of violations committed by the ICE. ICE appealed, and a recent March verdict stated that Azam should receive a green card. This decision was based on the Child Status Protection Act, which states that if the government delays a decision, and if a child becomes an adult in the meantime, the delay cannot be held against the person.
ICE filed a notice of appeal, but recently dropped it. ICE did not return a request for comment on the case.
“Our current immigration system wants to deport people like Mohammed to countries that they may not even remember anymore, or to condemn them to a hopeless future where they live and work in the shadows,” said Roopal Patel, a student at NYU School of Law's Immigrant Rights Clinic, who provided representation for Azam. She faced similar situations with some of her relatives, she said.
“The U.S. government failed him miserably,” said Borough President Scott Stringer,
“To me, he is what the American Dream should be, but unfortunately, it isn't for millions,” added Stringer, who held a celebratory press conference for Azam at his downtown office on Thursday.
Stringer said there are 170 languages spoken in New York City and 200 countries are represented. His office has an Immigrant Rights Task Force, which strives to educate the public on these matters. They also want to do a better job reaching out to the immigrant community about all the available services they may be able to utilize.
Azam expressed his heartfelt thanks to Stringer at the press conference. His future plans include going back to school to pursue an MBA and opening a franchise business.
ICE orders release of 4 illegal immigrants
BY TOM RAGAN (STAFF WRITER)
Published: June 24, 2011
Four illegal immigrants caught in Beaver Meadows since Wednesday were ordered to be released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, the borough police chief said.
On Thursday afternoon, police stopped a blue Honda Accord that was traveling 57 mph in a 35 mph zone on Route 93, Beaver Meadows Police Chief Michael Morresi said.
The driver, Robert Isaac Rivera-Campos, 22, of El Salvador, could not produce proof of insurance for the car, which had an expired registration and Maryland plates, Morresi said. One of the three passengers had a valid Maryland driver's license but the other two were from Honduras and had fake identifications, he said. ICE was notified and discovered the driver and the two men from Honduras - 33-year-old Carlos Cordona and 24-year-old Walter Borgas - were in this country illegally for six years. All four men were most recently living in Baltimore.
Rivera-Campos was cited for speeding and having no license; Cordona and Borgas were cited for having false identifications. ICE refused to pick them up, according to Morresi, because they had no criminal records; however, Morresi discovered one of the men was charged with assault. Since it was a recent incident, the charge did not appear in the system, he said.
About 5:30 p.m. Morresi said three of the men went to the impound lot and asked an attendant if they could retrieve something out of the vehicle. Morresi said the three illegals jumped in the car and drove off toward Hazleton.
On Wednesday, Morresi stopped 24-year-old Cezar Ramirez-Cortes for speeding on Route 93. An investigation revealed that Ramirez-Cortes, who did not have a criminal record, was originally from Mexico and had been stopped for speeding six times in the past four years he has been in the U.S. illegally. Beaver Meadows police cited him for speeding, driving without a license and driving with a suspended license. His vehicle was impounded because he is a habitual offender, Morresi said.
Ramirez-Cortes can re-claim his car but must show proof of ownership and have a valid driver's license and insurance. ICE was notified but since he had no criminal record Morresi had to drive him to the Carbon County line and release him on foot.
A similar incident occurred in May when a speeding illegal immigrant produced a Mexican registration card as identification, two public benefit Access cards bearing different names and $3,000 in cash. At the time, an ICE official said he was not detained because "the subject was not arrested and charged with a crime by the local department, did not have a criminal record and is not a fugitive from ICE, the subject was not a priority case and a detainer was not placed."
Pinal County migrant lockups criticized by ACLU
ACLU report assails living conditions, policies at detention center
by Caitlin McGlade - Jun. 24, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
The American Civil Liberties Union has released a report decrying living conditions and policies for immigrants held at detention centers in Pinal County.
The ACLU is urging U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to end its contract with the Pinal County Adult Detention Center, citing excessive detention time, inhumane conditions and sparse legal protection for detainees.
The 36-page report documents more than 100 interviews with immigrants behind bars, many of whom have claimed they were held for years without any contact with family and have subsequently developed psychological illnesses.
While awaiting trial proceedings, detainees in Pinal County also complained of no outdoor recreation.
ICE officials said that the report publishes "unverified allegations" and that the ACLU did not offer officials the opportunity to respond to the claims, according to a written statement provided by Vincent Picard, spokesman for the Phoenix ICE office.
"The significant acts of abuse alleged in this report have yet to be formally reported to ICE, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General or any other law-enforcement agency," the ICE statement said.
Officials will investigate the claims, the statement said.
The Adult Detention Center has had a contract with ICE since 2006. Its conditions are considered the worst of the five centers investigated for the report, said Victoria Lopez, an ACLU attorney who authored the report. All five immigrant-detention centers are in Pinal County, but the other four are not funded by the county.
James Kimble, chief deputy of detention services for the Pinal County Sheriff's Office said the facility averages 1,150 inmates and there were 391 illegal immigrants currently being housed who had been sent from ICE. He said the average detention for an illegal immigrant at the facility is 28 days.
He disputed the report's claim that there was no outdoor recreation facility at the detention center. Kimble said an outdoor facility measuring 100 feet long, 30 feet wide with 11-foot-high walls surrounded by a 12-foot-high chain link fence was built in 2006.
The ACLU report took two years to compile and collected hundreds of grievances.
"This isn't something that just came up," Lopez said. "Many of these problems have been persistent over the course of a number of years. Two years now after detention reforms, we're continuing to hear the same serious types of complaints we heard not just two years ago but even five years ago."
Maurice Goldman, a Tucson-based attorney who specializes in immigration law, said he has witnessed little change regarding consistency among detention centers and accessibility to clients. He has no problem visiting clients at the four centers that are not run by the county. But when he needs to contact a Pinal County Adult Detention Center client, he must give 24 hours' notice and has to do business divided by a fiberglass wall.
The law requires that illegal immigrants should be detained while awaiting trial if they run a high risk of fleeing or pose a danger to the community.
Goldman has represented clients who have posed little danger - such as a man caught riding a bike at night without a light - but he usually can secure bond for them. But then, the problem becomes having a family with an income high enough to afford it, he said.
Only about 10 percent of illegal detainees have lawyers because they are not granted the right to an attorney, according to the ACLU report. Some impoverished detainees can seek free legal advice from the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, a non-profit that offers assistance to adults and children detained by ICE.
"The system still needs some serious reformations, such as coming up with better alternatives to detaining," Goldman said. "We're still seeing many individuals who should be out in the community but are being held, and it's costing billions of dollars for our government to house them."
"The Pinal County Sheriff's Office is committed to the safety, health and welfare of everyone committed to our facility," Kimble said.
Three arrested after fight over construction business
12:00 AM, Jun. 24, 2011
Written by Lee Hermiston
Police arrested a group of men Thursday who allegedly had been intimidating another group of men in an attempt to take over their construction business.
Iowa City police responded to a report of fighting and weapons being displayed at the Hilltop Mobile Home Park at 12:38 a.m. Thursday. Officers determined that three men -- Juan Manuel Vasquez-Ayala, 19, of 831 Crosspark Ave.; Hugo Estuardo Salguero, 26, of 2401 Highway 6 E.; and Juan Manuel Martinez-Lopez, 24, of 1425 Langenberg Ave. -- approached the victims and witnesses at their residence and began throwing unopened cans of beer at them.
Lt. Bill Campbell said there were no other weapons used or displayed in the scrum.
Police said a large fight ensued once the victims and other witnesses attempted to defend themselves.
The victims said the three men have been intimidating them for a few months in an attempt to take over construction business. The two groups work for competing construction companies.
The three men have been charged with assault while displaying a dangerous weapon -- joint criminal conduct, an aggravated misdemeanor. Martinez-Lopez faces an additional charge of public intoxication.
Martinez-Lopez posted a cash bond Thursday morning and was released on custody. Salguero and Vasquez-Ayala have been held for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Humble Police detain van full of suspected illegal immigrant
Posted: Friday, June 24, 2011 1:07 pm | Updated: 1:41 pm, Fri Jun 24, 2011.
By STEFANIE THOMAS
A traffic stop on the Eastex Freeway in Humble Thursday evening resulted in the discovery of 17 people believed to be illegal immigrants.
According to Humble Police Lt. Jay Wrobliske, an officer pulled the van over for a traffic violation around 7:45 p.m. The investigation was subsequently referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
ICE spokesman Gregory Palmore said Friday that the detainees — residents of El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico — crossed the U.S. border illegally.
“There were 17 individuals total — 15 being smuggled and two drivers,” Palmore said. “They are all in custody. The drivers are being referred for criminal prosecution. Right now all the other individuals are being interviewed and we’ll see where the information leads us.”
The smuggled persons, four of them juveniles, may face deportation upon confirmation of their illegal status in the U.S. None spoke English or were able to show documentation of their legal status.
Traffic stop nets human trafficking arrests in Jasper County
By Jessica Lipscomb
Published 02:50 p.m., Friday, June 24, 2011
A routine traffic stop turned into a human trafficking arrest Thursday morning in Jasper County.
Chief Deputy Ralph Nichols said a deputy pulled over a GMC Yukon SUV with an Oklahoma license plate for changing lanes without using a turn signal. Nichols said the seven people inside the SUV could only provide identification cards from Mexico.
The deputy ran the IDs through the department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which put a hold on all seven people, Nichols said.
ICE took five of the people Thursday. The other two were being held at the Jasper County jail on charges of human trafficking, a second-degree felony.
Nichols said the two were apparently taking the other passengers to North Carolina or New York.
San Jose: Two federal immigration agents to help in city's anti-gang crackdown (San Jose Mercury News)
San Jose: Two federal immigration agents to help in city's anti-gang crackdown
By Sean Webby
Posted: 06/24/2011 02:57:11 PM PDT
Updated: 06/24/2011 03:04:53 PM PDT
About to lose more than 100 officers to layoffs and struggling with a bloody spate of gang slayings, San Jose police brass leaped at the chance to get for free the loan of a pair of elite federal agents to help them investigate the city's violent Nortenos, Surenos and other criminal crews.
But the SJPD is also a department that has repeatedly and publicly emphasized that it does not actively cooperate with the normal immigration enforcement of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, commonly known as ICE, which is the agency from which the investigators hail.
When told of the embedded agents, who start Monday, some local immigrant advocates expressed concern.
"With all the anti-immigrant sentiment out there, we have to be careful with what that collaboration would be like,'' said Zelica Rodriguez, a director with Services, Immigrants Rights & Education Network (SIREN). "We worry that they are saying it's to fight crime, when in reality it still is about enforcing immigration law.''
Rodriguez added: "We want to make sure this is not about targeting people who are here trying to make a better life for themselves.''
Jill Malone of PACT, another advocate for the immigrant community, said she distrusts the federal agency, particularly in the wake of a scandal over whether the feds misled communities such as Santa Clara County over its forced participation in a highly controversial ICE immigration enforcement program called "SecureCommunities."
"We understand there are budget cuts, but we really hope that the police chief will work with community to solve these issues rather than turning to ICE,'' Malone said.
Under Chief Chris Moore's leadership, San Jose police are looking to improve their tense relationship with immigrant communities, especially Latinos, amid persistent allegations of racial profiling. One of Moore's first acts as chief was to discontinue a policy in which cars of unlicensed drivers stopped for minor traffic violations were impounded for a month -- a policy many felt unfairly targeted the undocumented Latino community.
And earlier this year, Moore took a prominent role in a national immigration/policing press conference during which he underlined his policy that officers refrain from participating in ICE immigration raids. He said at the time: "This (the issue of immigration enforcement) has become a wedge in our communities and we need to remove that wedge."
Moore this week sought to reassure the Latino community that the agents were here strictly to help them target violent gang members, not to seek administrative deportations. The chief said he had discussed the issue with ICE before agreeing to take on the agents. And he said that the agents would be supervised by SJPD personnel in the Gang Investigation Unit.
"This is about criminal gang enforcement. They are criminal investigation folks," Moore said. "If you are here in the community and doing no harm, then you have nothing to worry about. If you are engaged in criminal activity, I don't care where you came from."
Mayor Chuck Reed lent a message of support for the agents, who are here on indefinite loan: "We are grateful for the assistance of the federal government in tackling our gang problem," he said.
The two agents, who make a combined salary of more than $200,000, declined to be interviewed or identified.
But officials said the pair are part of an effort called "Operation Community Shield" described as a task force that investigates and targets violent street gangs and "seeks prosecution and/or removal of alien gang members from the United States."
Since the launch of the program in 2005, ICE and its partners have arrested more than 15,000 gang members and associates, representing more than 1,000 different gangs, according to its website. These apprehensions include more than 6,000 criminal arrests and nearly 9,000 administrative immigration arrests.
Shane Folden, special agent in charge of ICE in Northern California, said his "Operation Community Shield" agents were coming to the SJPD purely as a collaborative anti-gang resource.
"This is a public safety issue, a collaborative effort to protect the community and to remove them so that they cannot exploit private citizens and prey on innocent individuals," Folden said.
Folden said that innocent people, undocumented or not, had no reason to fear.
"I can't understand why someone would be worried about that,'' Folden said. "If you are a child pornographer, a gang member, a drug smuggler, then absolutely you should be worried."
Zach Friend, a spokesman for Santa Cruz police, said that they had to allay some community fears about the ICE agents when they were brought in last year during a homicide spike in which three of the city's six slayings were gang-related.
"We met with some of the leaders within the Latino community to ensure they could understand what the reasoning was behind it,'' Friend said. "The degree of expertise the agents brought here and the results spoke for themselves.''
Operation Southern Exposure netted 45 arrests, weapons and drugs.
San Jose, so far this year, has had 27 homicides, 14 of which police have identified as having gang elements.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Illegal immigrant indicted
A grand jury meeting in Wichita has indicted Audi Cruz-Castaneda, 32, a citizen of Guatemala on a charge of unlawfully re-entering the United States after being convicted of an aggravated felony and deported.
Cruz-Castaneda was arrested June 18 in Ellis County.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Two stories, one raid: Denver Westword & Glenwood Springs Post Independent on Strawberry Days ICE raid
STORY 1: Immigration: Advocate decries Father's Day raid on Glenwood Springs' Strawberry Days fest
By Michael Roberts Thu., Jun. 23 2011 at 12:33 PM
Glenwood Springs' Strawberry Days festival has been an area staple for more than a century, and this year's edition featured train rides, a pirate-coloring contest, a pie-eating challenge and a search for a "Glenwood Idol," among many other scheduled events. But one happening wasn't announced in advance: a raid by representatives of the Garfield County Sheriff's department and the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office that ended with at least one man in custody.
"It was an amazing violation of ICE's own policies," argues Brendan Greene, Rocky Mountain region coordinator for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. "The policy says not to do operations in sensitive locations where families and children are present. And you can't get any more sensitive than a county fair. It's one of the biggest events of the year in communities all over the area."
Of course, the demographics of those towns could have made Strawberry Days an irresistible target to agencies looking for undocumented residents. "A lot of them are 40 percent Latino," Greene notes.
ICE continues to insist that it's targeting criminal aliens -- an emphasis of its announcement about the recent arrest of 2,400 illegal immigrants nationwide, including 78 in Colorado. But Greene sees the Strawberry Days action as contradicting that approach.
"It seemed more like a dragnet operation than targeting specific people who might have an outstanding record," he says.
By way of example, he tells the story of Cesar and Julio Alvarez. "Cesar has a completely spotless record, and he's been in this country for many years. He's a single father -- his wife passed away when his kids were young, and he and his brother, Julio, have been working together to raise the kids" -- four of them, including eleven-year-old twin daughters. "He's tremendously responsible, very involved in the local school, doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, and is very much about taking care of his kids on a daily basis."
On Father's Day, the kids were in the festival's bouncy castle when Cesar and Julio were approached by a pair of Garfield County deputies. "They claimed to be investigating a crime on Friday that doesn't show up in any police reports," Greene maintains. "And because of their trust in local cops, Cesar and Julio started answering questions. But when the deputies took them behind the fun house, there were two ICE agents -- so basically, they led them into a trap."
Both Cesar and Julio were questioned by the ICE reps at an RV parked at the back of the fair, with Julio -- who Greene says "definitely doesn't fit the bill of being a criminal" -- subsequently taken away for processing at a Glenwood Springs detention center.
Julio's wife Lorenza, who's seven-months pregnant, was so shocked by this turn of events that she had to be taken to an area hospital. Meanwhile, word of the illegal immigrant hunt quickly spread among festival attendees -- no surprise given the RV and "reports we heard about deputies chasing people through the crowd," Greene says. As a result, plenty of people fled from the event, seriously reducing the size of the throng.
Greene now wonders if Latinos will steer clear of other summer events in the area for fear of being profiled, hassled and potentially arrested whether they have serious marks on their record or not. In his words, "This has had a chilling effect on the entire community."
STORY 2: ICE arrests three alleged gang members in Glenwood
Post Independent staff reports
Glenwood Springs, CO, Colorado
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency announced that it arrested two known gang members at the Strawberry Days festival on Saturday, and a third gang member on Tuesday.
The anti-gang operation, which ran from Friday through Sunday, was carried out in cooperation with the Garfield County Sheriff's Office, and was aimed at nabbing known local gang members.
Following the arrests, one is in custody in the county jail on criminal charges and the other two are in ICE custody for immigration violations. Two of those arrested have been deported previously.
ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said the agency's privacy policies prevent him from disclosing the names of those arrested.
In addition to the arrests, the sheriff's department's Threat Assessment Group contacted about 20 other gang members during the weekend festival and asked them to take off bandannas or other gang-related clothing while at the fair.
“We feel this was very successful in keeping the fair a safe place for families to enjoy time together,” said sheriff's spokeswoman Tanny McGinnis in a written statement issued Wednesday.