Thursday, September 25, 2008

Immigration Makes House Raid in Sylmar, Deports couple (San Fernando Valley Sun)

Immigration Makes House Raid in Sylmar, Deports Couple

Thursday, 25 September 2008

A recent Pew Hispanic Center study found that a majority of immigrants worry now more than ever about deportation. The poll, conducted among 2,015 respondents 18 and over in June and July, found that 53% of immigrants, a 10% increase over a year ago, are concerned immigration authorities will deport them, their family members or friends.

"We are in an environment of increased immigration enforcement and based on statistics, there has been an increase in removal of immigrants in past years", said study author Susan Minushkin, deputy director of the center, a nonpartisan research grup.

The concern over deportation became a painful reality for a Sylmar family that was recently split up when immigration agents came to their house and took away the parents, leaving four U.S.-born children under the care of an aunt.

At around 8 p.m. on Sept. 11, Rosa Cruz rushed to the home of her sister, 36-year-old Luz Sanchez and her husband, 34- year-old Juan Sanchez, on the 12100 block of Buckeye Ave. in Sylmar after receiving a call from her nine-year-old niece, Kimberly.

"She called me crying and told me, 'aunt, the police is arresting my mom'," said Cruz, a Palmdale resident.

"I told her I wanted to talk to the agents and when they got on the phone they told me, 'we're not the police. We're immigration and I'm going to take her (Sanchez) away," recounted Cruz. "They told me I needed to go and pick up the children and asked me how long it would take me. I told her it would take me about an hour, and she said 'you better hurry up or I'm going to take them to a foster home'."

"I don't even know how I got here," said Cruz.

When she got to her sister's house, Cruz encountered a chaotic scene, with several police cars parked in front of the house and helicopters flying over.

The police had been called because the Sanchez older son, 14-year-old Oscar had lunged at the immigration officers after they had apparently manhandled her mother, leaving her with a bruised ankle, according to Cruz.

Inside the home, both Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez were in handcuffs on.

"She (my sister) was resisting when she saw her children. It's very hard and sad because they have spent all their lives here and in one moment they destroyed a home," said Cruz.

Hector Cabrera, a neighbor and member of the neighborhood council, also witnessed the detention and was surprised by the commotion.

"This situation is an aggression against people," he said. "The children see how these agents are treating their parents. It was savagely."

He also asserts he had seen immigration agents parked at the corner of the block for several days, as well as at the Starbucks coffee shop in the nearby City of San Fernando.

"They just sit there and intimidate people. They're creating tension for the immigrant population," he said.

The detention of both parents has split the Sanchez family. Mr. Sanchez was deported to Mexico a day after. His wife was kept in detention but deported a few days later. Their four children, Oscar, 14; Kimberly, 9; Juan, 5 and 14- month-old Daniel, are now under the care of Cruz.

Both, Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez had been in the country since the age of 17, after arriving from the Mexican states of Zacatecas and Nayarit, respectively. Mrs. Sanchez was a homemaker, while Mr. Sanchez worked in a landscaping company.

Cruz said a lawyer had swindled her sister and brother-in-law out of thousands of dollars by pretending to legalize their status by making them apply under political asylum. Mexican nationals don't qualify for such protection and their petition had been rejected.

"The two were granted a voluntary departure to Mexico in June 2006. When they failed to leave the country as they were instructed to do by the immigration judge, the voluntary departure became a final order of deportation," said Virginia Kice, spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). "I would underscore that this couple was instructed to leave the United States by an immigration judge more than two years ago.When they failed to leave the country in a timely manner, they became subject to arrest and formal removal."

Immigration lawyers and activists recommend that when immigration agents show up at your home, you ask if they have an arrest warrant with your name on it, otherwise you have the option not to open the door. If you are detained, you should ask to speak with your consular office and never, ever, sign anything.

Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), is harshly critical of these type of actions.

"Raids continue to tear families apart and remain the most savage form of enforcement policy. We urge the Bush Administration to use its executive power to order an immediate moratorium on raids, detentions, and deportations while Congress gets the courage to move forward on realistic and humane immigration reform," she said recently in a press release.

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