Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Deportation on hold for cancer patient's guardians (AP via San Jose Mercury News)

Deportation on hold for cancer patient's guardians

By E.J. TAMARA Associated Press
Posted: 08/30/2011 03:31:24 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES—Immigration authorities on Tuesday agreed to suspend the deportation of the guardians of a 17-year-old California leukemia patient and release them from detention, an official said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement will suspend for a year the deportation to Peru of Jose Humberto and Hilda Jauregui (HOW'-ray-gee), whose granddaughter Joseline suffers from leukemia and diabetes, said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for the agency.

Authorities also will suspend the deportation of Lili Jauregui, the couple's daughter, who has been detained with them since July, Kice said.

Kice did not provide a reason for the suspensions except to say they were "appropriate."

The decision comes a day after The Associated Press reported that Joseline, who is a U.S. citizen, had asked immigration authorities to refrain from deporting her grandparents for humanitarian reasons.

While the teen's cancer is in remission, she is still undergoing related treatment and said she needs the Jaureguis—who have raised her since birth and became her formal guardians last year—to care for her.

"If they take them away, I don't think I can live," she told the AP before ICE's decision.

Immigration authorities arrested the Jaureguis at their Duarte home in July. The couple had tried to obtain legal papers more than a decade ago but was defrauded by a lawyer who botched the case, said Jessica Dominguez, the family's current immigration attorney.

Dominguez said she expected the family to be released Tuesday night.

FACT FINDER: How police & prosecutors fight illegal immigrant crime (WSBT-IN)

FACT FINDER: How police & prosecutors fight illegal immigrant crime
Immigration spokesperson says ICE prioritizes "serious criminals who present the greatest risk"

By Kelli Stopczynski
5:09 p.m. EDT, August 30, 2011

ELKHART COUNTY – Last week's violent crime spree in Elkhart County has now put the spotlight on illegal immigrants and crime. WSBT’s Fact Finder 22 team did some more digging Tuesday on how Elkhart County police and prosecutors handle suspected illegals who break the law.

Francisco Macias is the man accused of stabbing two women. He is a "person of interest" in a house fire that killed three people.

WSBT found out Macias might have still been in the United States legally even though he was apparently not a U.S. citizen. Court documents from a 2008 domestic violence case show Macias was born in Mexico and was not a citizen of the United States. But we might never know if he was here illegally because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can't release that information without a signed waiver from Macias.

We did find out the bigger problem of illegal immigrants and crime is frustrating for Elkhart County police and prosecutors.

When Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill took office in 2003, he required deputy prosecutors to report convicted criminals who were illegal to ICE.

“[That reporting] went on for quite some time and nothing ever seemed to happen. You can't burden your deputies with this is another part of a job because this is really not their job. It's beyond us,” said Ed Windbigler, chief investigator for the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office.

The prosecutor’s office is obligated to properly prosecute people who commit crimes and a fair number of those people are not legal citizens, he added.

But if immigration officials don’t pick illegals up, there’s not much else the prosecutor can do.

“It’s a matter of resources,” Windbigler said. “If they only have two offices in the state, I don’t know how they would ever keep up with the number of people who may be here illegally who have committed a crime.”

Before the prosecutor’s office ever sees those cases, many of them begin with officers on the streets and at the Elkhart County Jail. They often have to determine whether a suspect is legal and that process isn’t easy.

“There's a lot of forged documents out there,” said Elkhart County Undersheriff Sean Holmes. “That's getting into a whole other topic, but that does happen.”

Even though everyone booked into the jail is asked if they were born in the United States and their names turned over to ICE if their answer is "no," police still have to be careful not to violate somebody's rights during an investigation.

“You can't just pick somebody up and arrest them because you think they're not a citizen,” Holmes said.

Regardless, it’s a complicated issue with no clear cut answer.

“I don’t have a solution for you, I really don't,” said Windbigler. “It is a problem but it's much bigger than Elkhart, Indiana.”

In a written statement to WSBT, ICE spokeswoman Gail Montenegro said “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is focused on sensible, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes first on serious criminals who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities.”

The statement went on to say ICE had “record-breaking immigration enforcement statistics” in fiscal year 2010.

“For two years in a row, ICE has removed more aliens than were removed in fiscal year 2008,” wrote Montenegro. “In fiscal year 2010, half of those removed—more than 195,000—were convicted criminals. The fiscal year 2010 statistics represent increases of more than 23,000 removals overall and 81,000 criminal removals compared to fiscal year 2008.”

WSBT has been in e-mail contact with Elkhart Superior Court Judge Evan Roberts who apparently knew Macias was not a legal U.S. resident in a domestic violence case. He sentenced Macias to probation. Judge Roberts told WSBT he still needs time to review the case before commenting on it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Police: Drunken driver stranded self in Glouco floodwaters before setting off unneeded search (Courier-Post)

Police: Drunken driver stranded self in Glouco floodwaters before setting off unneeded search
2:56 PM, Aug. 30, 2011
Written by

Franklin Township police say a man was driving drunk Monday night when he drove past a road closed sign on Delsea Drive in Franklin Township and became stuck in flood waters there.

The Vineland man then told rescuers he was only a passenger in the truck, prompting police to call out a state police helicopter area to search the waters for the alleged driver.

The search was eventually called off when police determined the man was lying.

The driver, Lorenzo Baltazar, was charged with drunken driving and hindering arrest, police said.

Baltazar is being detained by Immigration Customs Enforcement officials at the Gloucester County Jail, police said.

Monday, August 29, 2011

For Bay Area immigrants facing imminent deportation, new Obama policy offers no reprieve (Contra Costa Times)

*****UPDATE BELOW******

For Bay Area immigrants facing imminent deportation, new Obama policy offers no reprieve
By Matt O'Brien
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 08/29/2011 04:30:41 PM PDT

CONCORD -- Less than two weeks ago, the Obama administration announced it would stop deporting many illegal immigrants who are not public safety threats. But Monday, Arturo Rengifo Jr., a college student and Peruvian citizen who is no one's idea of a threat, paced the floor in his Concord living room as he prepared to be shipped back to Lima on Tuesday.

Rengifo, 24, who has lived in the United States since he was 6, is one of a number of immigrants in the Bay Area and around the country caught in a bureaucratic tangle: While the administration has announced its intent to change immigration policy, it hasn't yet implemented a new system, so planned deportations are proceeding.

"The new policy is to not break families apart, but they're not budging on this," said Rengifo, who must leave the country along with his father, while his mother and brother will stay in the Bay Area. "For us to leave everything here would just be a big, big tragedy."

The college student waited for hopeful news on his cell phone as his father, who suffers from depression, sat nervously on a sofa. His mother's voice shook as she contemplated what would happen to the family if she lost her son and husband of more than 30 years.

"We've never depended on the government, we pay our taxes, we've never had problems with anybody," Emperatriz Rengifo said. "I don't know what I will do without them."

The Department of Homeland Security announced more than a week ago that it will review 300,000 pending cases to prioritize deporting felons, but the agency clarified Monday that it has not begun the case-by-case reviews and will continue to enforce immigration law as it did before the announcement.

"Because the working group is in the midst of designing the process for reviewing cases, no individual cases have been administratively closed or otherwise affected by the policy," the agency said.

Eventually, a committee of federal lawyers and other officials from Homeland Security and the Department of Justice will review each pending case and focus "on the removal of criminal aliens, other aliens who pose a threat to public safety or national security, repeat immigration law violators, recent illegal border crossers, and immigration fugitives."

Rengifo does not fall under any of those high-priority categories. The graduate of Ygnacio Valley High School has a clean record, studies at Diablo Valley College, works in customer relations at an AT&T store and helps his family run a day care service at their home. However, an immigration agent told him last week that he does not qualify for a reprieve because his father's long-standing plea for political asylum had already been litigated, and lost.

Agents plan to escort the 69-year-old father and his son to San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday night, where the two men -- both named Arturo Rengifo -- will board a flight to Lima, splitting the family of four as Emperatriz Rengifo and the couple's older son remain in Concord.

"My family is all I have," Arturo Rengifo Jr. said. "Without them, it's like we're falling apart. Imagining my mom by herself is really depressing."

His mother's deportation is on hold because judges found her asylum testimony more credible than her husband's. Meanwhile, his older brother has a path to legal residency because he married a U.S. citizen.

The imminent deportation of half the Rengifo family reflects ongoing confusion over the new Obama administration policy, which was made public Aug. 18 and celebrated by many immigration advocates because of the promise to drop thousands of low-priority cases. The administration also released new guidelines in June that instruct agents to reconsider deporting some immigrants, including high school graduates such as Rengifo who have lived in the U.S. since childhood, but immigration lawyers say those guidelines are not always followed.

"According to (immigration agents), the Dream Act was denied and the kid is good to go," said Rhoda Wilkinson Domingo, the Rengifo family's lawyer. "He's had his bite of the apple is what they keep telling me."

The Rengifos were not the only Bay Area family who cited the new Obama administration policy in pleading for a last-minute reprieve this week. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday detained Victor Rosales, of East Palo Alto, and planned to deport him to Guatemala. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-San Francisco, and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, asked federal officials to put his deportation on hold. The Board of Immigration Appeals denied the appeal on Monday afternoon but then, late in the day, the immigration agency granted him a 30-day stay.

After fingerprinting him and getting ready to place him in detention, Rosales said immigration agents appeared annoyed at getting the late-afternoon call to release him, but his wife and 2-year-old son were overjoyed when he came out of custody.

"I feel at peace, so relieved," said his wife, Idania Rosales-Picen.

The Guatemalan man's wife had applied for political asylum because she had been abused by a former husband in Guatemala, but the family -- like the Rengifos -- recently lost their case at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The family's lawyer said that Rosales and his wife have a 1996 shoplifting conviction, making it less likely that their case would be reconsidered.

San Francisco attorney Mark Silverman of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center said these cases might not be a good gauge of the new policy, since judges already had issued a final order of deportation for both Rosales and the Rengifos.

"It's vague," Silverman said of the new policy. "It's hard to say how it is going to be implemented."

He hoped that of the 300,000 cases being reviewed, at least a third of them would be administratively closed, but he said it might depend on the discretion of immigration agents, some of whom are likely to personally oppose the new mandate.

Immigration control groups think the case-by-case review violates the will of Congress.

"This goes way beyond just some regulatory changes," said Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. "Essentially, the administration has scrapped the existing immigration policies and made its own."

Mehlman said immigration agents should be able to use discretion in "extenuating, unusual circumstances," but he argued that the new policy gives a blanket reprieve to entire categories of people who violated immigration laws.


Handful of Deportations Halted as New Removal Criteria Worked Out
August 31, 2011, 3:06 pm • Posted by Jon Brooks

Arturo Rengifo and his son, Arturo Rengifo, Jr., are two undocumented Concord residents who were ordered to leave the country by Aug 30. Yesterday, however, Immigration and Customs Enforcement granted them a 30-day reprieve so it could review their case. But it took an intervention by a U.S. Senator -- Dick Durbin from Illinois -- to stall the process.

According to the Rengifos' lawyer, Rhoda Wilkinson Domingo, Mr. Rengifo’s wife is not subject to an order of removal, and another son is a permanent resident. Wilkinson Domingo also sent out the following background information yesterday:

Mr. Rengifo and his family fled from Peru in 1993 after they were attacked and threatened by the Shining Path, a terrorist guerilla movement that now engages in highly dangerous narcotics trafficking. The Rengifo children were 15 and 6 years old, respectively, at the time. They have not left the United States since then.

"My father and I never even packed," Rengifo, Jr. told KQED's Mina Kim yesterday. "It's been the greatest miracle ever, that's ever happened to me. Even these 30 days gives us another chance of hope to live and just do what we need to do here, and that's live the American dream, and live as a family."

"We've never been split apart, ever. For me and my dad to leave and to leave my mom here, it's taking part of my mom's heart. It's really devastating. I'm still in this state of mind where I am going to stay here. I'm putting everything in the hands of God, whatever's going to happen is going to happen. But I know that good things will happen to us, hopefully, since we are good people."

Here's audio [link] of Rengifo's reaction, which starts with his recounting of his appeal to ICE to reassess his case under the new federal guidelines that prioritize deportation of undocumented immigrants who pose a public safety risk, as opposed to those who meet certain mitigating criteria -- outlined in a Jun 17 memo (pdf). Rengifo says an immigration officer told him the policy shift was "not new news," and that deportations were continuing.

In that Jun 17 memo, under a header called "Factors to Consider When Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion," ICE officials are directed to weigh some 20 considerations in deciding whether to apprehend, detain, or remove any of the 300,000 immigrants who currently face deportation. Such factors include education, age, health status, ties and contributions to the community, and family ties to legal residents.

However, as reported in this Contra Costa Times article about the Rengifos, the case-by-case reviews under the new policy have not yet begun, as the process for assessment is still being worked out. However:

Bay Area immigration lawyers have heard of a few anecdotal cases of immigration agents or judges halting a deportation since the June memo, and all of those involved illegal immigrants who are students or same-sex married spouses.

Last week, a San Francisco judge closed a deportation case against a member of a same-sex couple from southern California. The judge’s decision came at the request of ICE. Two other same-sex couples, including one from Oakland, have also had their deportation orders rescinded. All the cases involve men who married legal residents in states allowing same-sex marriage. Previously, this was not enough to shield an undocumented spouse from deportation, as it would in an opposite-sex marriage, because the Defense of Marriage Act prohibits federal recognition of same-sex unions.

Despite policy, Friendswood teacher deported (Houston Chronicle)

Despite policy, Friendswood teacher deported
Updated 12:45 a.m., Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sha' Vonne Ironche's husband called her Tuesday afternoon from inside the Houston immigration detention center, saying an officer told him to have a bag packed and ready by 5 p.m. for his deportation flight back to Spain.

She blacked out. The other teachers at her Houston-area school had to call her mother to come and pick her up.

Just days earlier, she and her husband, Esterny Ironche, a 55-year-old Spanish teacher, had high hopes he would be spared from deportation. Obama administration officials last week announced a case-by-case review of pending immigration cases, saying they planned to dismiss "low-priority" cases involving non-criminals to better target dangerous criminals.

Esterny Ironche had no criminal history, and he was married to a U.S. citizen. He had overstayed a visa 15 years ago, but had paid his taxes and had legal work authorization from the government. He had a case pending before the Board of Immigration Appeals. And he was in remission for prostate cancer and participating in a clinical trial in Houston.

All of those factors, the lives that had carefully constructed together here, would surely count in his favor, they figured.

But the government did not spare Ironche, who was loaded onto a flight from Houston to Dallas with the suitcase his wife had packed for him. He arrived in Madrid early Thursday.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Friday that they could not comment on Ironche's deportation, citing the agency's privacy policy. A DHS official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the agency has not yet started the national case reviews. The agency is still operating as it did before the Aug. 18 announcement, the official said, and will continue to do so until the government establishes a formal case review process.

Wife is a citizen

"It's a tragedy," said Raed Gonzalez, a Houston immigration attorney. "There are many promises from the administration, but nothing is really coming about."

"It's really sad that they're still separating families," he said.

Sha' Vonne Ironche spent the day on Friday filling out paperwork officially resigning her husband's position with the school district and trying to figure out what to do with the new home they recently bought together in Friendswood.

She was trying to be strong for her 5-year-old daughter, Ironche's stepdaughter, who kept asking for "Papa."

She has a contract with her school district, and no immediate plans to pack up and move to Madrid. But, the 32-year-old said, she feels lost without Ironche, and will eventually find her way there to be with him, if that's what it takes.

"I feel out of place, and I belong here," she said. "I don't feel this is my home and my country. I cannot believe this."

Ironche had entered the U.S. legally and overstayed his visa, applying for a green card in 1995 based on an earlier marriage. Sha' Vonne Ironche said her husband's application languished for years and was denied after his divorce. But he was not notified, she said, and the government continued to renew his work authorization year after year.

They taught at the same school and fell in love three years ago. He was a doting father to her daughter, Carmen, from an earlier marriage, she said.

The couple planned to have a big wedding in October 2009, she said, but Ironche was diagnosed with prostate cancer in late August of that year. They decided to move the wedding up and exchanged vows in a quiet ceremony in the minister's backyard in September 2009, three days before he had surgery to remove his prostate.

Still in shock

But when the couple applied in 2010 for a green card based on his recent marriage, immigration officials grilled them about the hasty wedding, she said. They said Ironche had an immigration warrant dating to 2007. His green card application was denied. On Aug. 5, immigration officials detained him. His lawyer requested that the government consider exercising prosecutorial discretion and dismissing his case, but they declined.

Sha'Vonne Ironche said she can't understand why the government went ahead with the deportation, especially after the announcement that gave them hope.

"When the president says we don't need to deport people who don't have criminal records, you should acknowledge it," she said.

Sha'Vonne Ironche said she's still in shock, but is starting to think about the future, trying to figure out how to get her family back together. That most likely will someday result in her leaving her home here in Texas and moving to Madrid.

"I have no choice," she said. "That's where my husband is."

Undocumented immigrant tries to navigate an uncertain future (Salt Lake City Tribune)

Undocumented immigrant tries to navigate an uncertain future

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Aug 27 2011 11:13PM

West Valley City • David Morales is a teenager. A bundle of contradictions wrapped within his wiry frame.

He cares deeply about people and dreams of helping the homeless. But then he’ll blow off a meeting with a guidance counselor at school. “They’ll reschedule,” he says.

He is passionate about his Christian faith, reading the Bible daily, professing his love for God on Facebook and sometimes speaking in tongues at church. But he’ll just as easily judge an entire group of Bible school teachers as corrupt — without any knowledge of malfeasance.

He loves his family members and yet, by speaking publicly, puts them at risk. But the biggest contradiction of all is the one he is powerless to control: Morales is an undocumented immigrant. The place he calls home, in the eyes of the government, isn’t that at all.

“I want to be able to build a church here and to pastor to people here,” he said. “I want to raise kids and give them the opportunities I’d have. I would like that to be in America.”

He has an Oct. 6 court date. For months his family planned to go back to Mexico.

Then Aug. 18 happened and may have changed everything.

Policy shift » When Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a letter that day outlining the Obama administration’s policy of prosecutorial discretion, optimism erupted in the Morales family.

“My mom and dad were really happy,” Morales said. “My mom called the attorney to ask what it meant for me, and I heard that I might be able to get a temporary work permit. But I won’t believe anything until I have a permit in my hand.”

The new policy is estimated to affect about 300,000 cases in the midst of removal proceedings and is believed to affect people like Morales who have been in the country for more than five years, have no criminal record and are enrolled in college.

The 19-year-old Morales appears to fit the bill on all counts.

But Matthew Kolken, a high-profile immigration attorney based in New York, made a prediction last week on Twitter that he believes only about 1,000 of the estimated 300,000 would actually be beneficiaries of the new policy.

“I think the Obama administration is doing this as a publicity stunt,” Kolken told The Salt Lake Tribune. “I think there will be about 1,000 cases that will be newsworthy enough that the administration will try to avoid embarrassment and that those are the ones who will benefit. If you’re anonymous, forget it.”

He said Morales has improved his chances “exponentially” because his arrest earlier this year was so public.

However, Gillian Christensen, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the policy outlined by the Obama administration would be followed as outlined.

“ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens, recent border crossers and egregious immigration law violators, such as those who have been previously removed from the U.S.,” she said in a statement. “The agency exercises prosecutorial discretion, on a case-by-case basis, as necessary to focus resources on these priorities.”

Morales hopes he’s a low priority, which is why he has felt emboldened enough to speak publicly on his case despite an alleged threat made by an ICE agent who told him if he talked to the media, he would be put back in jail.

Lori Haley, ICE spokeswoman, said there is a complaint process through the Office of the Inspector General and DHS open to those who believe they’ve been victims of civil rights violations or misconduct.

Morales said he didn’t know about that. He said he forgives that agent and prefers to remember the ICE agent in Louisiana who let him bring his Bible into the jail cell after his arrest.

“I’m actually thankful for that,” he said.

Border crossing » He came to the United States when he was 9, crossing the border at Nogales with his mother and his younger brother with the help of coyotes and a border agent taking bribes before making a long drive up to Salt Lake City, where his father, who had arrived almost a year earlier, was already waiting for him. Morales said he remembered his first day in Utah and how he walked into a large grocery store with his dad.

“There were some Hot Wheels that were, like, 99 cents. I said, ‘That’s too expensive.’ I was, like, ‘We could buy a whole pack of tortillas with that,’ ” Morales recalled. “I remember he said, ‘This is your life now.’ ”

Morales paused, thinking about that small purple car.

“I started crying.”

That was in August 2001. During the next 10 years, he would go to Monroe Elementary and Hunter High, getting a mix of good and bad grades and meeting a mix of good and bad friends. He graduated from the alternative high school, Granite Peaks.

His parents would land jobs in the service industry, and they were able to buy a house five years ago. With the family’s strong Pentecostal roots, Morales knew he wanted to be a preacher. When he saw the chance to go to a Bible college in Louisiana, the family gave its blessing.

On Jan. 4, while sleeping on the bus rumbling its way to Lafayette, Morales had a dream.

Thirty minutes later, when he woke up, it came true as a nightmare.

Visions » Morales said he’s always been prone to visions and revelations.

When he was a child in Acapulco, he was so sick with a rare disease, doctors believed he wouldn’t walk again. During that time in the hospital, he said he had visions of angels and demons in the room. He said he prayed to God to just let him walk again and that he’d go wherever God told him to go on his legs. He said God answered that prayer.

Later, as a 17-year-old, he was complaining about having to walk home from school then, suddenly, heard the voice of God filled with sadness — recalling the promise made and the blessing received.

“I felt terrible,” Morales said. “I stopped complaining right there.”

So, when he dreamed on the bus in Texas that federal agents pulled it over, boarded it and asked for his identification that he didn’t have — and it all played out exactly as he had dreamed — it wasn’t a surprise to him.

“God said this is part of the process. He’s like, ‘Relax, I got this,’ ” Morales said. “I was shaking, but I wasn’t looking to run away. I knew it was going to be a hard process. But I don’t think God gives more than I can handle.”

He spent 17 days in jail and was released on a $4,000 bond. He came back to Utah and remembered the promise he made to God — that he would go wherever he wanted him to go. And if that meant Mexico, then he would do it.

But in the meantime, he met a group trying to pressure Congress into passing the DREAM Act. He decided then to be an activist.

A dream » The Salt Lake Dream Team meets once a week, usually on the Jordan campus of Salt Lake Community College.

It’s a mix of youths — citizens and undocumented immigrants — that strictly follows Roberts Rules of Order to run the meeting.

Raymi Gutierrez, 22, said Morales joined the group in the early days of summer.

“He’s different,” she said. “He wants to make a difference, but he needs to remember he’s not Superman. He can’t do everything.”

Morales, who still feared retaliation for talking to the media, was eager to discuss his situation. But often, at public events where The Salt Lake Dream Team would appear, he would stealthily materialize in the background. He would push the envelope as far as he could without violating the instructions laid down by the ICE officer who threatened him.

At an open house hosted by Sen. Orrin Hatch in July, The Dream Team arrived dressed in graduation gowns and sang “Happy Birthday” to the DREAM Act, which was written by Hatch 10 years ago. It would offer a pathway to citizenship for children brought to the United States by undocumented immigrants, provided the child — among other things — attended college or served in the military.

Morales blended in with the crowd, careful to avoid the camera, but smiling mischievously while wearing sunglasses.

He would slink around news conferences, flirting with the possibility that he might be stopped and asked to be interviewed or end up on television.

Then, he decided to work with members of The Salt Lake Dream Team on a project. They were approached by television producers to be the subject of a reality TV show that would follow the lives of undocumented immigrants. He agreed to do it.

Diego Ibañez, one of the Dream Team organizers, said Morales is “a good kid who can seem a bit naive about some things.” But he said he has never met someone as optimistic.

“He always thinks things are going to work out,” Ibañez said. “To someone else, it looks different and can be hard to understand. But that’s just David.”

Emergency room » While at his Dream Team meeting Wednesday night, Morales didn’t feel well. He slipped out without saying anything to anyone and passed out. He woke with bad stomach cramps and coughing up some blood.

He walked across the street to the Jordan Valley Medical Center’s emergency room.

“I thought I was going to die,” he said.

Morales didn’t pay a dime for the care.

Molly Evans, emergency room manager, said it’s the hospital’s policy to not turn away anyone who needs medical care. Income and legal status, she said, aren’t considerations when faced with a sick patient.

Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo, proposed a bill in the past legislative session that sought to tackle the issue of free medical care for undocumented immigrants. It failed because it had a $35 million fiscal note, but he plans to take on the issue again in the upcoming session.

“I’m not advocating we deny care, but what frustrates me is these costs aren’t ever calculated into the illegal immigration debate,” Herrod said. “Again, I’m not advocating we deny care, but those costs are there.”

Laura Ruiz, a 21-year-old friend from Heber City, accompanied Morales back to his house after his stay in the hospital, and she went with him to school, where he battled stomach pains off and on throughout the morning.

Sitting in his developmental reading class at Salt Lake Community College on Thursday wearing a gray shirt with the word “Revolutionary” written on it in bold letters, Morales watched the teacher, Kathleen Johnston, write the word “Respect” on a whiteboard and ask the class what it meant.

After several offered answers which Johnston wrote down, Morales raised his hand — the hospital wristband from his ER visit sliding down his thin wrist.

“Treat other people as you want to be treated,” he said.

Johnston nodded her head and put it on the board.

After class, Morales went back to the house to work on what he would say at a news conference he is planning for Wednesday. He thought about his past and his future. Where he had been and where he was going.

And, looking at the toy purple car he has kept to this day, how his father told him things would be different.

He told the doctors his story. They treated his ulcer, and he was dismissed a few hours later.

Special visas fast-track illegal immigrants to residency (Philadelphia Inquirer via Bellingham Herald)

Special visas fast-track illegal immigrants to residency
By MICHAEL MATZA | The Philadelphia Inquirer

POSTED: Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011

PHILADELPHIA The federal government has an unusual fast track to legal residency for illegal immigrants.

Antonio Luna's ticket was a bullet in the back.

The 30-year-old Mexican, who slipped into the United States in 2000, was delivering pizza to a narrow South Philadelphia street on a night two summers ago.

The customer on the steps, in a hat raked low, took his time paying - time enough for another man to leap from between parked cars and thrust a gun against Luna's forehead.

Luna gave up the food, his cellphone, and $140. The first man ransacked his car; the gunman forced him to the ground. "He told me, 'If you want to run, run,' " Luna recounted recently. "I didn't have a chance because he shot me" in the lower back.

Gushing blood, howling in pain, thinking he might die, Luna never imagined how the assault would better not only his life, but also that of his wife and two children.

The next morning, detectives came to his bed at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. They told him they did not care about his immigration status. They just wanted his help. He immediately picked the gunman from a book of mug shots. Police made the arrest that night.

For aiding the investigation, Luna got a reward: a "U visa."

It grants residency to illegal immigrants who have been victims of violence and cooperate with law enforcement. That could range from giving information to police to testifying at trial.

A U visa includes a work permit good for four years. After three years, the victim can apply for a green card, allowing permanent work-authorization and residency.

In the nearly three years that U visas have been available, about 25,000 victims and 19,000 relatives have received them. The number living in the Philadelphia area was not immediately available from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Lawyers who represent illegal immigrants say their risk of abuse, exploitation and victimization is high because they fear deportation if they report a crime.

For years, Luna had tried to live small, to avoid notice.

After he was shot, his application for a U visa was guided by Brenda Gorski, a lawyer at Philadelphia's pro-immigrant Nationalities Services Center. Instead of dying, he said, he was "reborn." Because U visas are "derivative" - they include immediate family members - his wife, Beatriz, 27, mother of their two U.S.-born children, became a legal resident, too.
Congress created not only U visas, but also T visas, for victims of human trafficking.

The government defines that crime as enslavement, in which the trafficker uses fraud or coercion to recruit people for forced labor and, often, sexual exploitation.

Immigration experts differentiate between human trafficking and human smuggling. A smuggled person consents to being spirited over the border and goes free in America. But trafficked victims are bound to their traffickers, who ensure their dependency by taking their money and identification. They are forced to work at menial jobs, typically nail salons and massage parlors, and are under constant surveillance. If they try to escape, they are beaten or blackmailed.

"If victims come forward, there is the possibility of relief. We don't want them to stand in the shadows anymore," said Tony Bryson, director of U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Philadelphia, which recently held a daylong training about U and T visas for police and advocacy groups.

Up to 10,000 U visas may be issued annually, with no limit for immediate family members. The annual cap on T visas is 5,000, but fewer than 450 have ever been approved in a single year, because so few trafficking victims are willing to apply.

They fear reprisals not only against themselves; trafficking networks routinely make threats against family members still in the homeland.

As a result, the T-visa program is "woefully undersubscribed," said Rose Hartmann, a federal immigration officer who attended the recent Philadelphia training.

Groups urging restrictions on illegal immigration, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Immigration Studies, contend that U and T visas make the immigration system too generous by handing out work permits at a time when the country lacks jobs for its citizens. And the lure of a green card, they say, can entice some immigrants to report bogus crimes.

Immigrant advocates say the number of green cards granted under the U and T programs is a mere fraction of the million cards issued annually. Immigrants who file false reports or commit perjury, they note, are subject to prosecution and deportation.

All applications are channeled to the USCIS service center in Burlington, Vt., where 73 adjudications officers and supervisors authenticate them. Supporting paperwork usually includes medical and police reports, as well as the law enforcement letter certifying cooperation.

A federal trial set for next month in Philadelphia holds the possibility of T visas for victims of trafficking.

The case involves five brothers from Ukraine, ages 35 to 51, known to prosecutors as "the Botsvynyuk boys." Last summer, they were charged with forcing about 30 illegal immigrants to work as virtual slaves from 2000 to 2007 cleaning department stores and supermarkets in the Philadelphia area.

According to the indictment, the brothers promised the immigrants they would earn $500 a month, with free room and board. Instead, they slept five to a room on dirty mattresses, worked for little or nothing, were told they had to pay off transportation costs of $10,000 to $50,000. They were beaten, and a female victim repeatedly raped.

Violence was threatened against family still living in Ukraine, the indictment said. For instance, one brother said he would place a worker's 9-year-old daughter into prostitution to pay off the family debt.

Patty Hartman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia, said the immigrant workers have remained in Philadelphia and might be called to testify at trial. Their cooperation could make them eligible for T visas.

As part of a T-visa awareness campaign launched last month, the federal government produced two provocative one-minute public service videos about sexual slavery and forced labor.

The videos, airing nationally in Spanish and English markets, encourage viewers to report suspicious activity in the hope, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Deputy Director Kumar Kibble, of reaching "victims who have endured so much pain."

A test case on deportation shift (Omaha World-Herald)

A test case on deportation shift

Published Sunday August 28, 2011
By Cindy Gonzalez

Luis Cervantes was pushing a shopping cart and collecting recyclables from curbside trash cans when two Omaha beat patrol officers stopped him.

The 30-year-old "kept ignoring" them, the officers said in a report. Though he eventually gave his name to a Spanish-speaking officer, Cervantes offered conflicting birth dates and had no ID on him. He was taken to jail, where he spent two days and was booked on suspicion of stealing a grocery cart.

Only later would officials realize that Cervantes — who has been diagnosed as autistic and moderately mentally retarded — can't communicate much. He pleaded guilty, was fined $25, and the misdemeanor case was closed.

But by that time, the U.S. Homeland Security Department had been contacted, and the Mexico-born Cervantes last October joined the crowded court docket of illegal immigrants the government wants to deport.

Today Cervantes is poised to be a test case under a new and controversial Obama administration directive to suspend deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants determined to pose no threat to public safety.

The policy shift could include work permits for select cases.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Aug. 18 that a working group formed this month would be looking, one by one, at nearly 300,000 pending deportation cases across the nation with an eye toward sidelining low-priority cases.

Napolitano said the president has said repeatedly that "it makes no sense to expend our enforcement resources on low-priority cases" such as students brought to this country as kids by their parents.

She referred to a June 17 memo by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton that urged federal ICE officials to tap already existing "prosecutorial discretion." He listed factors to be weighed positively, including significant time spent in the United States, whether the illegal immigrant has been a victim of domestic violence or has an immediate relative who has served in the U.S. military. Negative factors would include being a gang member or a "serious felon," having an immigration fraud conviction or having repeatedly violated immigration laws.

The case reviews are intended to ease a court backlog. But how many of the 300,000 ultimately will be considered low-priority cases is unknown, and the number could depend on how prosecutors weigh an immigrant's use of false identification to work.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, already has called for congressional hearings to stop implementation. He is among critics who contend it amounts to "back-door amnesty," bypassing Congress and giving a pass to people who have broken immigration laws.

"We have a president who thinks he can run the country by executive order," King said.

Meanwhile, immigrant advocates are holding meetings to try to answer myriad questions and warn against con artists with big fees. Lawyers are waiting for clarity on how work permits would be granted. And many are wondering how long it might take to review the 300,000 deportation cases.

In the Omaha Immigration Court alone, which covers Nebraska and Iowa, deportation cases are so backed up that local attorneys say some clients are getting trial dates five years from now. The average wait in the Omaha court is 525 days — higher than the national average of 482 and the fourth-highest of all the nation's 30 immigration courts, according to TRAC's Immigration Project. Its sponsors include the Ford Foundation and Syracuse University.

As of Aug. 1, the Omaha Immigration Court had 4,827 pending proceedings, according to the national body that oversees the courts. TRAC said the two states were on pace to set local deportation records this year.

The uncertainty of just how or when Obama's directive will trickle down became evident when Cervantes appeared last week in the Omaha Immigration Court.

He has a mental disability — a positive factor that "should prompt particular care and consideration," according to the Morton memo, which also points out that prosecutorial discretion may be exercised at any step of a removal proceeding.

But Cervantes — who earlier had been released from federal custody on his own recognizance — was ordered to appear in May 2012 for further deportation court proceedings.

His attorney, Kristin Fearnow, plans to formally request to close Cervantes' case, based on medical evaluations that federal officials haven't yet analyzed and on support letters.

The Cervantes family is five in all. Another son, Rolando, 29, shares Luis' autistic condition.

Dad Francisco left their homeland of Sinaloa, Mexico, in the mid-1990s in search of better pay. His wife and their youngest son followed in 1998. Their other teenage boys came six months later. All entered the U.S. illegally.

None of the Cervantes brothers attended school in the United States, his parents said.

Though Luis Cervantes was a candidate for prosecutorial discretion even before the presidential directive, Fearnow said his case now is stronger. "He is no danger. He fits the criteria."

An interagency working group from Homeland Security and the U.S. Justice Department already has started meeting to review cases. The group also is to issue guidance to prevent other low-priority cases from entering the system.

Some see the directive as a move by Obama to curry favor with Latino voters, but Susan Smith of the anti-illegal immigration Nebraskans Advisory Group believes it will create a voter backlash.

"Just look at the economy. How can they tell people this with a straight face?" she said.

State Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont, a frequent critic of illegal immigration, predicts the move will prompt more action by state and local governments.

"In fact, laws like those passed in Arizona and sponsored by me in Nebraska will become even more necessary as the federal government continually refuses to act," he said.

Amy Peck, an attorney who sits on national immigration law boards, said the directive so far sounds positive for clients but lacks specifics, including who might be eligible for work permits during the time their cases are put on hold.

Sergio Sosa, executive director of the Heartland Workers Center, suspects the president was reacting to mounting dissatisfaction with the administration's Secure Communities enforcement program, which has come under fire for snaring low-risk illegal immigrants and propelling deportations to record numbers. Sosa said his hope is that ICE now will focus on hardened criminals rather than working immigrants.

The line in some cases might be a fine one under guidelines set out by the Morton memo.

Take Feliciano Montejo, a Guatemalan who entered the U.S. illegally more than a decade ago.

His case is among those to be reviewed. The length of time he has been in this country and the fact he has two U.S.-born children are supposed to play in his favor when it comes to being eligible for a suspension of deportation.

Montejo, however, faces charges of using fraudulent identification to work. And the Morton memo specifies that fraud conviction is a negative factor.

Montejo's attorney, Dazmi Castrejon, said her client purchased false ID for his two restaurant jobs but didn't know whether the information belonged to a U.S. citizen.

It's a purchase many illegal immigrants have made to get a paycheck.

"They came to have a better life," Castrejon said. "The way they get that is by working. It's a pretty common scenario."

Had it not been for his immigration status, she said, the documents would not have been bought and the charge would be a nonissue.

While the Morton memo says that no one factor is determinative in prosecutorial discretion, such ambiguity has many immigrants questioning which cases will be suspended.

That's one reason why immigrant advocates continue to press for overhauling immigration laws and providing a path to U.S. citizenship. "All of this does not get rid of the need for federal reform through Congress," said Darcy Tromanhauser of the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest.

Since Montejo's arrest in mid-July, his wife, Rosa, has had to find a baby sitter for her daughter, 3, and son, 1, and go to work as a hotel maid, turning to social agencies for help with food and rent. "It's been very hard," said Rosa, 23. "My husband is a good, hardworking man."

The recent policy shift eventually could affect many more of the estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States.

"One of the objectives here is to keep low-priority enforcement folks out of the caseload in the first place," a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said in a briefing with reporters.

That provides some comfort to Luis Cervantes' parents, who would like to remain in Nebraska. The couple purchased a modest South Omaha house years ago when it was easier to land jobs without proper authorization.

Since they lost their production line jobs the family has turned to collecting recyclable materials. They earn about $150 a week and get clothing and food at pantries, where they also volunteer.

It was during his weekly stroll to gather cans and plastics that Luis Cervantes roamed from his father and was arrested near 13th and Vinton Streets.

When he didn't return home, his parents called 911 and were told that a man matching Luis' description was in custody. Maria Cervantes sought help at a local charity, and Fearnow agreed to provide her services for free.

Since the handcuffing, Luis won't go to the grocery store or collect cans, Maria said.

Though Luis smiled and said "si" during a recent interview, he mostly fidgeted as his parents spoke.

A medical report to be submitted in immigration court says Luis gets anxious and agitated if he changes routine or does not know his mom's whereabouts. He doesn't use telephones. Mom must prompt him to do the smallest of tasks, including tooth-brushing and shampooing.

Maria said she is afraid her son won't be able to adjust if sent back to Mexico.

"He can't read, write or tell time, but he knows he has an immigration court date," she said. "He keeps saying, 'I have court. I have court.' "

IMMIGRATION: First Inland detention center opening (The Press-Enterprise)

IMMIGRATION: First Inland detention center opening

10:00 PM PDT on Sunday, August 28, 2011


The Inland area's first immigrant-detention center is opening today as part of a government effort to house detainees closer to their homes.

About 25 detainees are expected to move into the Adelanto Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center, with the number gradually rising toward the building's 650-bed capacity. After the construction of an addition, the center could house up to 1,300 people detained on immigration-law violations.

Some immigrant-rights activists worry about alleged problems at other detention facilities run by the Florida-based for-profit company, The GEO Group, that will operate the center.

Company spokesman Pablo Paez declined to comment beyond a written statement, which forecast $42 million in annual revenues for GEO from the center.

The city of Adelanto built the existing facility about two decades ago to house low-level state prisoners, said Adelanto City Manager D. James Hart. The city feared losing income when signs emerged that the state was planning early release of many nonviolent prisoners, he said. Its solution was to contract with ICE, which was seeking more Southern California space. Adelanto then contracted with GEO.

GEO already runs a medium-security state prison east of the building, and it owns land to the west, Hart said. GEO last year bought the city's building for $28 million, which GEO spent $22 million to renovate and retrofit, according to the company.

The government will pay $99 per day for each prisoner.

GEO is planning to open the 650-bed addition on its adjacent land by August 2012, according to the company statement.

The city laid off about 100 people when the state prison closed last year. GEO is giving priority to those 100 people in hiring for the detention center, which will employ about 170 when the addition is completed, Hart said.

Timothy Robbins, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations field director, said the Adelanto center will cut down on transfers of detainees -- especially those with medical problems -- outside Southern California. In the past, some Southern California detainees were sent to Texas , Arizona and other states. The Adelanto facility will provide medical care.

"It allows detainees to be closer to their families, support systems and attorneys," Robbins said.

Housing detainees closer to home also saves the government money in transportation and other costs, he said. The large majority of detainees will be from Southern California.

ICE last year increased the number of Southern California beds by 838 through contracts with Orange County. The other 10 California ICE facilities include Santa Ana, Lancaster, El Centro and a privately run center in San Diego.

Suzanne Foster, executive director of the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, which serves immigrant workers in the Inland area, said she is worried by reports of mistreatment of detainees in other GEO facilities.

A lawsuit against the company alleges "barbaric" conditions at a Mississippi youth detention center. The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting a civil-rights investigation of the facility. .

Robbins said about 30 of the employees at the center will be ICE employees, and ICE will regularly inspect the facility.

Fernando Romero, coordinator of the Justice for Immigrants Coalition of Inland Southern California, which includes more than 20 religious and other nonprofit groups, said a candlelight vigil outside the center and a forum in Adelanto are being planned.

"We want them to know we're here, and we're watching them," Romero said.

Obama's uncle arrested for DUI, held by ICE as illegal immigrant (

Obama's uncle arrested for DUI, held by ICE as illegal immigrant

Published : Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 10:09 AM EDT

(FOX 25 / - President Barack Obama’s long-lost uncle was arrested for drunk driving in Framingham in August, and is now being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement as an illegal immigrant, the Australian Times is reporting.

According to the paper, Onyango Obama, 67, was arrested outside the Chicken Bone Saloon in Framingham at around 7 p.m. on Aug. 24. Police say he nearly crashed his Mitsubishi 4x4 into a police cruiser before failng a breathalyzer test.

Obama was charged with driving under the influence and driving to endanger, as well as failing to use a turn signal. He was detained as an illegal immigrant because of an outstanding warrant with ICE. He was previously ordered deported to Kenya.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Prosecutor says mom aware when baby pushed to fall (AP via Times Union)

Prosecutor says mom aware when baby pushed to fall
AMY TAXIN, Associated Press, GILLIAN FLACCUS, Associated Press
Updated 09:50 a.m., Friday, August 26, 2011

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A woman described by her husband as blinded by postpartum depression knew what she was doing when she drove their 7-month-old son to the fourth story of a parking garage and pushed him over the edge, prosecutors said Thursday.

Sonia Hermosillo's arraignment was delayed until Monday due to medical issues. The 31-year-old faces one count of murder and one count of assault on a child with force likely to produce great bodily injury resulting in death.

Prosecutors say the mother of three took her infant son to the garage at Children's Hospital of Orange County on Monday, removed a special helmet he wore for a medical condition and pushed him over the edge — then re-entered the building to validate her parking ticket before driving away.

"There are some facts to suggest she knew exactly what she was doing," said Scott Simmons, senior deputy district attorney.

Hermosillo was being held on $1 million bail. A call to her attorney, Chuck Hasse, not was immediately returned.

Hermosillo's husband Noe Medina had said his wife suffered from postpartum depression and did not know what she was doing. He said the couple had no problems during their 13-year-relationship until the birth of their son, who suffered from a condition that required him to wear a special helmet to reshape his head.

"There is no grudge against my wife. Don't judge her poorly.... She is truly ill," Medina said tearfully in his native Spanish on Wednesday, hours after his son died. "Understand the pain that I am in ... I lost my son and now I don't want to lose my wife. I have to keep going on for my two little girls."

Postpartum depression affects up to 20 percent of new mothers and can be triggered or worsened by stresses such as a traumatic childbirth experience, disabilities in the infant or an unsupportive home situation, experts said.

Most of these women have the "baby blues," a bout of depression that goes away within a few weeks, but a tiny fraction — about .01 percent — develop postpartum psychosis, said Stephanie Morales, a licensed marriage and family therapist who specializes in perinatal mood disorders.

Simmons said he expects Hermosillo's case will go to a jury trial. He said the mental state of the accused always plays a role in a homicide trial, but he has not prosecuted a case involving postpartum depression.

If convicted, Hermosillo could face a maximum sentence of 25 years to life, prosecutors said.

By all accounts, Hermosillo was a wonderful mother until the birth of Noe Medina Jr. this year.

The native of Mexico had two older daughters, ages 7 and 10, and she doted on them as a stay-at-home mother while her husband worked in construction, according to neighbors who knew her before she gave birth to her third child.

They said she was involved in her daughters' schooling and walked them to class in the family's working class La Habra neighborhood every day, although she spoke little English. When she learned she was expecting a son, she was excited, said Sonia Herrera, a neighbor whose daughter played with Hermosillo's children.

After the boy's birth, Hermosillo became withdrawn and serious, she said.

Medina said his wife was hospitalized for postpartum depression in June after she said she didn't want the boy. The baby had been diagnosed with congenital muscular torticollis — a twisting of the neck to one side — and wore a helmet to help correct his plagiocephaly, also known as flat-head syndrome, The Orange County Register reported.

Studies suggest that Hispanic women suffer from slightly higher rates of postpartum depression because many are first-generation immigrants and are removed from the social and cultural support systems that surround childbirth in many Latin American cultures, Morales said. A language barrier also prevents some immigrant women from getting help.

Hermosillo's husband said his wife took medication after her hospitalization and had seen a therapist for the first time on Monday. Later that day, she scooped up the baby while her husband was watching their daughters, and left their second-story apartment.

A panicked Medina called 911 to report his wife and son missing. La Habra police has declined to release that call, citing the pending investigation.

Authorities say she pushed the baby from the parking garage at the hospital, where he had been undergoing physical therapy twice a week. He didn't have an appointment that day.

A witness saw the baby falling through the air and several people called 911, said Sgt. Dan Adams, an Orange police spokesman.

Surveillance video showed Hermosillo's sport utility vehicle with an empty child seat leaving the parking structure a short time later, Adams said. The license plate was traced to the Hermosillo home, the sergeant said.

A police officer driving past Children's Hospital about four hours later spotted Hermosillo driving on a street about 100 yards from the crime scene and arrested her, Adams said.

Hermosillo has been put in a protective gown in the medical ward of the county jail so she cannot hurt herself and is on suicide watch, said Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department. He said she also has an immigration hold because authorities believe she is in the country illegally.

Hermosillo tried to enter the country at a San Diego border crossing using someone else's identity in 2006 and was turned away, said Lori Haley, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Women who have been through postpartum depression said they can understand Hermosillo's alleged actions through the lens of their own mental illness. Tiffany Benton, of San Jose, suffered postpartum depression after the birth of both of her children, now 8 and 11.

Benton, 39, said she would dream about pushing her infant in a stroller down a steep slope and letting go of the carriage. She said she was afraid to bathe her daughter because she didn't trust herself not to drown her.

Benton went three weeks without sleeping at one point and was hospitalized for two weeks after the birth of her younger child when she began hallucinating, she said.

Now healthy, Benton takes medication and goes to therapy, but she has cut her medicine dose in half and hopes to taper off completely with time.

"I was just a disaster emotionally. I felt like I was going crazy and I was having panic attacks," Benton recalled in a phone interview. "My husband had no clue what was going on. He was like, 'Oh, you'll be fine tomorrow,' and I was like, 'No, no, I won't.'"

'Migrant' held by Coast Guard overstayed visa (Gloucester Times)

'Migrant' held by Coast Guard overstayed visa
By Richard Gaines
Staff Writer

August 25, 2011

The individual removed from a New Bedford fishing boat and described by the Coast Guard as an "undocumented migrant" entered the U.S. under a visa waiver program that allows citizens of participating nations to travel in the country on pleasure and business for up to 90 days, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Because the unidentified individual "failed to depart the country as required, and remained in the U.S. without authorization," he was turned over to the ICE's enforcement and removal branch for deportation.

The individual's nationality was not revealed in a written exchange with the Times.

The matter, the second in two weeks involving a boat owned in part or whole by Carlos Raphael, New Bedford's pre-eminent commercial fishing entrepreneur, and a member of the board of the Gloucester-based Northeast Seafood Coalition, could result in federal charges, according to Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security spokesmen.

However, neither agency was willing to provide a report on the status of the matter, which began on Aug. 13 when the cutter Legere stopped and boarded the 81-foot F/V Southern Crusader II about 60 miles southeast of Nantucket, according to Coast Guard spokesman Jeff Hall.

Raphael's attorney John Markey said he has been in contact with Raphael, who is vacationing in Portugal, and is not aware of any charges against his client. Markey said he did not know the identity of the person taken from the Southern Crusader II.

"Given the facts that have now been disclosed," said Markey, "it is patently clear that neither Mr. Raphael nor anyone in his employ were attempting to do anything illegal in this matter."

Raphael is listed as co-owner of the Southern Crusader II along with Joao Camarao. Raphael's company, R & C Fishing Corp., also owns the Vila Nova Do Corvo II, a 94 foot scalloper, which was boarded a week earlier.

During what was described as a random boarding, a constructed hollow was found in the hull, said the Coast Guard spokesman Hall. He described the void as "large enough for a person to get into." Such cavities sometimes are used to hide fish, but at the time of the boarding, the Vila Nova Do Corvo II was returning to port from a scalloping trip and the void was empty, the Coast Guard said.

"To our knowledge," Markey said in a telephone interview Wednesday, "(the void) existed before Mr. Raphael purchased the boat."

The NOAA vessel notification data base does not indicate when Raphael and Camarao purchased the boat but it was built in 1980, which was the same year Raphael, who emigrated from Corvo — an Azorean island, which is a part of Portugal — began building his fishing business.

The boat had four previous corporate owners and two previous names, Sandra Lee and Cajun Love, according to the data base at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

According to the Coast Guard spokesman Hall, the captain was cited for operating with a sealed compartment inconsistent with the mission of the boat. We will write it up and send it to enforcement" where lawyers will "look at the plain language and decide what US code to cite."

Whether or not to charge the boat owner or operator, Hall said, would be decided at a higher level and if there is to be a charge it would likely be prosecuted in the civil, Coast Guard administrative law judge system, said Hall.

Raphael's fleet of 40 scalloping and fishing boats based in New Bedford, is the largest in the nation's number one port in terms of landed value and probably the largest in the region.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kicking and spitting, Iraqi arrested as illegal immigrant, feds say (The Detroit News)

Kicking and spitting, Iraqi arrested as illegal immigrant, feds say

Robert Snell/ The Detroit News

Last Updated: August 25. 2011 11:22AM

Detroit— An Iraqi facing deportation threatened to kill an immigration officer with a shard of Plexiglas, spit on another federal agent and caused more than $700 damage to a police car Friday, according to court records.

The records, filed late Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, chronicle the break that kept 41-year-old Salam Daniel in the United States and a violent, harrowing trip in the back of a police cruiser in Dearborn.

Daniel was charged in federal court Wednesday with damaging government property and assaulting an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer with a dangerous weapon.

The alleged incident happened when federal agents caught Daniel on Friday following a long hunt.

A federal immigration judge ordered Daniel to be deported in August 1997 because he was living in the country illegally, according to court records.

He filed a series of appeals and was supposed to be deported in October 1999.

But due to conditions in Iraq, the government couldn't remove Daniel and he was allowed to stay. He was required to periodically report to the Department of Homeland Security, however.

In February 2008, Daniel failed to check in and was considered an immigration fugitive, according to court records.

He avoided capture until Friday, when Daniel entered a U.S. Immigration & Citizenship Services office in Detroit and asked about obtaining an employment card. Daniel was arrested, handcuffed and transported to a jail in Dearborn.

"During transportation, Daniel became irate and managed to maneuver his restrained hands under his legs so that they were now in front of his body," deportation Officer Trent Horky wrote in a court filing Wednesday. "Daniel violently kicked, punched and threw his body into (the) partition that divided his backseat bench from the (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officer who was driving."

Daniels broke the Plexiglas partition, grabbed a shard, held it like a knife and started waving it at the officer, according to Horky. Daniel threatened to kill the officer, who was trying to drive the car, Horky wrote.

The officer managed to arrive at the Dearborn Police Department.

"Daniel made multiple attempts to spit at ICE officers and successfully did spit on one ICE officer," Horky wrote.

He continued to kick, fight, spit and wave the broken Plexiglas at officers until they disarmed him by using pepper spray, according to court records.

Daniel was restrained and taken to the St. Clair County Jail.

CRIME REPORTS: 08/25/11 (Sierra Vista Herald)

Sierra Vista police

The following are highlights from the calls for service or citizen contacts received or initiated by the Sierra Vista Police Department after Aug. 22 at 6 a.m. through Aug. 24 at 12:07 a.m.

Aug. 20
7:24 a.m. Three illegal immigrants were taken into custody on Hwy 80 near mile post 346 and turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol.

Aug. 18
3:13 a.m. One illegal immigrant was located at Safeway and turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol.

False alarm on reported "hootenanny" (Cleveland Sun News)

False alarm on reported "hootenanny"- Avon Police Blotter
Published: Wednesday, August 17, 2011, 7:50 AM
By Sun News staff Sun Sentinel

SUSPICIOUS CONDITION, SCHWARTZ ROAD: Police received a report on Aug. 6 from a nearby resident about two carloads of “illegal immigrants” at the east end of the park who were changing clothes in plain sight, acting in an intimidating manner and who the caller thought were preparing to have some kind of “hootenanny.” Police arrived on the scene to find the suspects were preparing to play a soccer game. They were advised about changing in plain sight.

Suwanee Police Blotter: Aug. 19 (Suwanee, GA Patch)

Suwanee Police Blotter: Aug. 19
* August 19, 2011

The following arrest information was supplied by the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department and the Gwinnett Police Department. It does not indicate a conviction.

Juan Carlos Perez-Cruz of a Peachtree Industrial Boulevard address in Suwanee was booked into the Gwinnett Detention Center on Thursday.

Charges include DUI, no driver's license, and an immigration charge, according to Sheriff's Department officials.

Gwinnett Police was the arresting agency. Further details were not available.

Pair ask DHS official to end fingerprint program (AP c/o Houston Chronicle)

Pair ask DHS official to end fingerprint program
ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press
Updated 09:50 p.m., Wednesday, August 24, 2011

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Two Maryland women facing deportation pleaded with a Homeland Security official Wednesday to end a program that gives federal immigration authorities access to fingerprints of people arrested.

Speaking in Spanish, Maria Bolanos told Marc Rapp, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting assistant director for the Secure Communities program, that she was arrested after calling police in Maryland during a fight with her partner. She was arrested, she said, and accused of illegally selling telephone calling cards. Now she's facing deportation because her fingerprints were shared with immigration authorities and she was identified as an illegal immigrant as part of the Secure Communities program.

"I'm not a criminal," Bolanos said, adding that she fears being separated from her young daughter.

Bolanos, who was joined by Florinda Lorenzo, confronted Rapp during a public hearing on the Secure Communities program, which allows immigration authorities to use fingerprints sent to the FBI to identify illegal immigrants arrested around the country.

After Bolanos and Lorenzo confronted Rapp, who did not respond, about 200 people walked out of the meeting, chanting "end it, don't amend it."

Gustavo Andrade, an organizing director for Casa Maryland, asked the panel to resign before leading the protesters out.

Similar scenes have played out at other public hearings on Secure Communities in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Rapp declined to comment on the confrontation.

It was the fourth public forum held by members of a Homeland Security task force asked to come up with recommendations to improve the program, which critics contend has resulted in the deportation of thousands of people arrested on minor traffic offenses or other misdemeanors. Critics have also complained that states are being forced to participate in the program, despite initial assurances that the program was optional.

Earlier this month, ICE Director John Morton announced the agency was canceling previously signed agreements with states, saying that state permission was not needed for the fingerprint-sharing program.

Gary Mead, who leads ICE's enforcement and removal operations, said immigration officials are working to focus their efforts on criminals, repeated immigration violators and immigration fugitives. He said a June memo from ICE Director John Morton outlining when and how officials could use discretion in deportation cases — including in cases of people with no criminal history and those who were brought to the United States as children — was proof of that effort.

Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced in a letter to senators supporting immigration reform that each of the approximately 300,000 cases pending in federal immigration court would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and those with no criminal record would have their cases indefinitely put on hold.

Lorenzo, who spoke to a group of supporters before Wednesday's meeting, said she was pleased to hear about the policy change, but she still worries.

"I am fighting to stay here and not be separated from my children," the mother of three said.

The task force, which does not include Homeland Security or any other federal officials, is expected to make recommendations for changes to the Secure Communities program in September.

After two-month gang crackdown, San Jose cops sever ties with feds (San Jose Mercury News)

After two-month gang crackdown, San Jose cops sever ties with feds

By Mike Rosenberg

Posted: 08/24/2011 05:16:59 PM PDT

Driven by a dramatic drop in gang killings coupled with community fears that law-abiding undocumented residents would be deported, San Jose police on Wednesday ended their brief alliance with federal immigration agents.

Police Chief Chris Moore seemed to declare victory in the department's 2-month-old "war on gangs" in saying the department -- still reeling from severe budget cuts and layoffs -- could now afford to sever ties with two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

The ICE agents had joined the force June 24 to stem a steep rise of gang violence that had helped put the city on track for its highest homicide rate since the 1980s. In the first 5½ months of the year, the city recorded 14 gang homicides, but none in the two months since the department's elite 38-member METRO unit began focusing on "all gangs, all the time," Moore said. With the help of the ICE agents, he said, police arrested some 215 gang members.

Yet the police force is also facing sharp criticism from community groups who say residents have feared calling police to report crimes or serve as witnesses because they did not want the ICE agents to deport them.

"I definitely think (ending the ICE relationship) is a move in the right direction and I hope (Moore) stays open to talking to us," said Zelica Rodriguez, policy director for Service, Immigrants Rights and Education Network. "It's a reminder of the promises he made when he was a candidate for chief."

Although police spokesman Sgt. Jason Dwyer said the community concerns played a role in the chief's decision, it was the drop in violence that had the largest effect.

"Are we crumbling to the community pressure? Absolutely not," Dwyer said. "If we were still getting bombarded with homicides, those guys wouldn't be going anywhere. We accomplished what we set out to do, we've completely stopped" the gang homicides.

But it may have come with a cost. In interviews Wednesday, community group leaders -- who met with the chief several times over the issue -- reported what they called disturbing changes in how police were targeting minorities and a drop in trust between officers and residents since the crackdown launched.

The testimonials mounted: They say a four-member officer unit had pulled over a Latino pastor for not using his turn signal. One Hispanic mother who witnessed a beating in front of her home was too scared to call police because they might check her immigration status. Another man said he had been driving as little as possible to avoid the risk of being pulled over, and a mom said she fears her teenage Latino son will be profiled by police whenever he goes out.

"We've looked at cost analysis of what it means to our community, this fear and intimidation that happened. The cost surely outweighs the benefits," said Maritza Maldonado, a 25-year veteran of the community group PACT. Her East San Jose church surveyed 1,800 parishioners, and found 90 percent reported a desire for a better relationship with police.

They remain bitter that Moore never consulted with them before deciding to team with ICE and have been meeting constantly with him to persuade him to end the partnership, and to consult with them before embarking on new initiatives.

Still, no examples have surfaced proving their main concern -- that law-abiding citizens without documentation would be targeted and deported -- ever became a reality.

Now the police will face fire from the opposite end of the spectrum, led by a coalition of five conservative groups who formed to support the ICE plan. They now fear violence will tick back up if police relax their crackdown. Dwyer said the reduction in gang focus would be extremely gradual.

During the two-month crackdown, called "Operation Community Shield," the gang unit made 314 arrests, seized 23 weapons, and conducted more than 500 gang-related searches, police said. Of the people arrested, 69 percent were involved in gangs and 35 percent were repeat offenders.

"If it's been working, why stop?" said Don Barich, a spokesman for the pro-ICE coalition. "With the budget cutbacks and the manpower challenges the force is facing, it would seem like a good use of resources as far as we're concerned."

ICE issued a statement saying it looked forward to working with other local police departments to "dismantle criminal organizations that threaten the welfare of our communities."

"(The partnership) achieved the desired results, reducing gang-related crime and violence," Clark Settles, ICE's special agent in charge, said in a statement.

Students hold sit-in at immigration building in LA (AP c/o San Jose Mercury News)

Students hold sit-in at immigration building in LA
The Associated Press
Posted: 08/24/2011 07:36:48 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES—Activists say nine illegal immigrant students and their supporters were arrested in demonstrations at immigration offices in Los Angeles over a fingerprint sharing program.

Youth activist Mohammad Abdollahi says five illegal immigrant students and graduates held a sit-in Wednesday at the building where federal officers ready immigrants for deportation.

Abdollahi says officers detained them and one supporter and released them several hours later.

He says three activists who rallied outside were arrested by police for failing to disperse.

Critics say the program giving Immigration and Customs Enforcement access to arrestees' fingerprints has caused the deportation of many for minor infractions. Supporters say it helps identify immigrants convicted of crimes.

Homeland Security spokesman Matt Chandler says the six arrests were executed by the Federal Protective Service. No additional details were released.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Role of police in deportations debated again (Worcester Telegram & Gazette)

Role of police in deportations debated again

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

MILFORD — A horrific fatal accident Saturday has reignited the debate over a federal program that prioritizes the deportation of illegal immigrants who have criminal records.

Police Chief Thomas J. O’Loughlin said yesterday that the program, the Secure Communities Act, “would have clearly looked at” the record of Nicholas Guaman, who allegedly was driving drunk when he struck and killed a motorcyclist, dragging him a quarter of a mile.

The 34-year-old Milford resident has pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide, driving under the influence of alcohol, leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury and death, possession of an open container, failing to stop for police, unlicensed driving, failing to yield at a stop sign, wanton or reckless conduct creating risk to a child, and resisting arrest.

A native of Ecuador, Mr. Guaman was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail at his arraignment Monday in Milford District Court. He is also being investigated by federal immigration officials and was held on a detainer from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Under Secure Communities, when someone is arrested his or her fingerprints are transmitted to the FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with a copy to state police. This happens regardless of whether the person is suspected of being an illegal immigrant. The program also allows ICE to look at the charges and determine whether the detainee is someone ICE should focus on.

Mr. Guaman was previously convicted of breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony, and on three assault and battery charges, as well as several other charges stemming from a Feb. 3, 2008, incident.

Chief O’Loughlin said yesterday he favors the federal program operated by Homeland Security. He said Milford has a sizable population from Ecuador, Guatemala and Brazil.

“I arrest someone, they tell me their name, date of birth, where they live locally, and I don’t know if any of that is true. It’s not like I can call town hall somewhere in Ecuador and say, ‘Can you verify this?’ I’m stuck in that respect,” the chief said.

Opponents of Secure Communities say it will create a divide between immigrant communities and police.

Chief O’Loughlin said he doesn’t think that argument is valid. He said it was a Brazilian who tipped off police here to two men who were wanted for murder in Brazil.

The state controls what Chief O’Loughlin referred to as the “switch” to link with Homeland Security, and the governor, after holding public hearings throughout the state this year, opted not to enter the program.

Speaking at her home yesterday, former state representative Marie J. Parente said this was the third time a Milfordian has been killed by an unlicensed driver who was in the country illegally.

Ms. Parente estimated 3,000 illegal immigrants are residing in Milford, a town of about 28,000 people. About 10 percent of illegal immigrants drive without licenses, she estimated.

A state representative from 1980 to 2006, Ms. Parente has expressed her support of the Secure Communities Act in a letter to President Obama. She said that people enter the country illegally because they know they will enjoy more benefits than citizens.

“The road to citizenship is not torture,” she said. “All societies, no matter how primitive, have rules to preserve that group. Ours are you have a physical, you’re not a criminal coming into our country, you’re healthy, you have a way to support yourself, and a place to live.”

Ms. Parente said Mr. Guaman had the chance of a lifetime living undercover as he and his family enjoyed all kinds of benefits. “Still that wasn’t enough,” she said, adding that the accident and death has “ripped the hearts of Milfordians. They are furious in this town.”

Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis also denounced the accident, calling it a tragedy that “highlights the immediate need for the implementation of the Secure Communities Act.”

He said it was implausible to think that Gov. Deval L. Patrick would not reconsider his position on this issue and begin to immediately enact Secure Communities.

Alex Goldstein, a spokesman for Mr. Patrick, said Massachusetts already voluntarily shares fingerprint data with the federal government. The governor’s policy is that serious criminals who are here illegally should be deported. Massachusetts has and will continue to send fingerprints to the federal government and the state Department of Correction will continue to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to facilitate removal of undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of felonies in the state, Mr. Goldstein said.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the victim of this terrible crime. The focus now is on prosecuting the person responsible and ensuring that justice is served. We will provide whatever assistance is required to get that done,” Mr. Goldstein said.

Mr. Guaman is accused of being drunk when he allegedly ran a stop sign about 7:45 p.m. Saturday and struck the motorcycle driven by Matthew Denice, 23, of Milford. Witnesses told police Mr. Denice was stuck in the wheel well of Mr. Guaman’s pickup and was dragged about a quarter of a mile, despite people chasing the truck and banging on the sides screaming at the driver to stop.

Leslie L. Wheeler, a local resident whose husband is a Brazilian national, called the accident “awful,” but she disagreed with characterizations of illegal immigrants. She said they generally want nothing more than to work hard for better lives and leave others alone.

A. Wayne Sampson, executive director of the Grafton-based Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, said police chiefs have very divergent views on Secure Communities, the concept of which will be a federal mandate in 2012 or 2013.

Mr. Sampson, the former Shrewsbury police chief, said sharing information makes sense, but the question becomes, “How will the federal government use it?”

A lot of communities are having problems with the implementation of the program, he said. “Does the Commonwealth or does the federal government have the capacity to actually implement a total program?”

He said it has been reported to him that when police call ICE to tell them they have detained a person who appears to be an illegal immigrant, “in most cases they will tell you to go ahead and bail them and let them go because they don’t have anyone to come and bail them or come and get them. They’re selective in who they come out for.

“So if we don’t have the capacity now, what are they going to do when there’s full implementation of the program? This is the reality of any program,” he said. “You have to understand what the impact is going to be.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sheriff slams president's illegals stance (The Marietta Daily Journal)

Sheriff slams president's illegals stance
by Lindsay Field
The Marietta Daily Journal
August 23, 2011 12:00 AM

MARIETTA - Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren said that he has a problem with President Obama's announcement last week to go easy on illegal immigrants in the U.S. and focus only on deporting those who are violent criminals.

"I really believe that because of our economy being in such bad shape now .... and with all of his failed policies on jobs and stimulus, I think he's looking for votes," Warren said. "I think he's lost credibility with voters who voted for him."

In July 2007, the Cobb County Sheriff's Office was approved by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to detain illegal immigrants per the 287(g) program. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the 287(g) program allows a state and local law enforcement officials to delegate immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions.

"I don't think it's right. These policies aren't going to do anything but send an invitation out to more aliens to enter our country illegally," Warren added. "Whether they bring illegal drugs or simply are looking for drugs, I think it's going to create a burden on the taxpayers of the United States."

However, Warren does not think that the policy change will have an impact on the way he and his staff perform their duties at the county jail.

"We are going to continue to do what we've done, that's enforce the laws," Warren said. "Whatever that may be, we're going to do it equally."

In 2010, of the 31,050 inmates booked in the Cobb County Jail, 1,695 were illegal immigrants reported to ICE. Between Jan. 1 and July 31, 2011, Warren said that among the 16,575 inmates booked, the department has placed immigration holds and started initial deportation proceeding against 755 illegal immigrants.

With each person that is booked in the jail, one of Warren's 20 deputies who is authorized to act as immigration officers under the supervision of ICE, are checked for citizenship. Warren said process is practiced nationwide.

"If you are a citizen of a foreign country, then I'm responsible to notify your country that you're here," he said.

Weekly data proves to Warren that taking illegal immigrants into custody and reporting them to ICE when needed is a benefit to the community.

"Of those 190 (arrested) last week, everyone of those individuals has charges pending. They committed some violation of the local or state law here in Cobb County," Warren said. "Over two-thirds were for felony charges. The other third were for misdemeanors."

Warren said that he does believe the policy change will additionally create issues for federal law enforcement agencies.

"I just think that the Department of Homeland Security is choosing to selectively enforce the immigration laws," said Warren, adding that the burden will come on the border patrol and ICE officers who are charged with removing offenders.

Prior to 287(g) being added to the Cobb County Sheriff's Office in 2007, Warren said that his department partnered with the Immigration and Naturalization Services to deal with the illegal immigration problems.

"We saw that as a problem here years ago but it was unofficial and they tried to work with us to deal with the problem," Warren said. "We didn't have the resources because the folks in Washington didn't want to provide the resources. I applied for it (in 2005) and come to find out, we were the first sheriff's office in the state to apply for it and probably among the first 10 in the United States."

Since applying for the 287(g) program, Warren said his department has seen a reduction in the number of illegal immigrants who come through the county jail.

"Since we started this program, the numbers that I've looked at, are down about 50 percent," Warren said.

On Sunday, Fox and Friends anchors interviewed Warren because he is considered one of "America's Top 10 Toughest Immigration Sheriffs," according to previous reports by the news affiliate.

The live feed included Warren answering questions about his take on the policy change by President Obama.

"I'm very passionate about the 287(g) program," Warren said. "If you're going to be in our country, there's a right way to do it. Our country was built on immigrants coming here, making the United States what it is. There's 1,000s and 1,000s doing it the right way and I just have a heartburn for folks who circumvent the law."

"I don't deport anybody... I don't even have the authority to hold them in custody on an ICE situation. I do that based on ICE telling me," Warren said. "The argument is that I'm splitting up families. Because they are accused of making bad decisions, that's what is splitting up families."

Richard Pellegrino, director of Cobb Immigrant Alliance, said that he is ecstatic about the president's move.

"That's really what the policy should have been from the beginning of his administration," Pellegrino said about the president's policy change. "It's a good step forward in terms of protecting families and those who are not criminals."

Pellegrino added that his constituents are "cautiously optimistic, because they are aware it is political season."

Arlington hearing on deportations attracts protestors (Washington Examiner)

Arlington hearing on deportations attracts protestors
By: Liz Essley | Examiner Staff Writer | 08/23/11 8:05 PM

Hispanics and immigration advocates plan to swarm to Arlington Wednesday to protest a federal law requiring local police to check the immigration status of those they detain and to turn any criminals over to the Department of Homeland Security for deportation.

The protestors intend to gather at a DHS hearing on the controversial program, known as Secure Communities, which has drawn similar demonstrations around the country because it has led to the deportation of many Hispanics who are not the violent felons the program is supposed to target.

While supporters say Secure Communities is essential to a working immigration policy, critics have attacked the program for scaring immigrant communities, saying people who have committed only minor traffic infractions are being deported along with convicted felons.

"Secure Communities uses taxpayer dollars to essentially widen the deportation dragnet to be able to catch individuals who pose no threat to public safety," said Gustavo Andrade of Casa de Maryland, an advocacy organization that will have representatives testifying at the meeting while others protest it outside.

President Obama announced earlier this month he would review 300,000 deportation cases and allow those illegal immigrants who don't have criminal records to stay. But Hispanic groups and immigration advocates say that's not enough, and are pushing to do away with Secure Communities.

"I would like to hear concrete evidence that in my case I will not be deported," said Maria Bolanos, 28, of Hyattsville, who faces deportation after Prince George's police referred her case to DHS. She plans to testify at the hearing.

Arlington County leaders asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement if they could opt out of the program last year only to be told by federal authorities that participation was mandatory for all localities.

"This at a minimum has been a communication disaster for ICE," said county board member Walter Tejada. "They have given conflicting statement after conflicting statement, and that has not helped us at all."

The DHS task force conducting the hearing at George Mason University's Founders Hall between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. held similar meetings in Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago. In Chicago, 10 protesters were arrested after about 200 walked out of the hearing chanting, "Terminate the program! No more lies," according to a Chicago Sun-Times report.

Activists said they thought the public input meetings were only a formality for DHS and would not stop the DHS from going forward with the program.