Thursday, October 2, 2008

Concidence leads to deportation; Surge in Immigration Enforcement (San Fernando Valley Sun)

Concidence leads to deportation; Surge in Immigration Enforcement

Written by Alex Garcia
Thursday, 02 October 2008

On Sunday September 14, while eating a piece of fruit with powdered chili in his car, a police officer arrested Alfredo Ybarra thinking the man had been snoring cocaine while cleaning his nose from the effects of the spice.

The detention would prove costly for the 47-year-old Mexican native from the state of Nayarit. In the U.S. illegally for nine years, he was handed over to Immigration and Customs (ICE) agents who promptly deported him across the border to Tijuana after Ybarra signed a voluntary deportation order to avoid prosecution, according to his friend Javier Verdin.

"The police interrogated him for several hours asking him where the drug was and then they told him he had the choice of spending five years in jail or leave the country," said Verdin. Ybarra has a U.S.-citizen brother living in Georgia who had sponsored him through immigration authorities, but in the haste of the moment and intimidation, he couldn't locate the document which would have given him perhaps a little bit of time to see an immigration judge and prevent his deportation, said Verdin. Now, after signing a voluntary departure document, if he returns, he will be considered a felon and could face up to 20 years in federal prison.

Ybarra's deportation left Verdin and the rest of the members of Club Social Jala, Narayit, concerned. The Club conducts fundraisers in the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles to help their town back home.

Ybarra was the group's coordinator, in charge of organizing events that went to improve the conditions in Jala.

"It's sad because he is a person that helped a lot of people. He was very enthusiastic and ready to lend a hand," said Verdin."The thing he liked most was to see a smile on somebody or know that a kid had a Christmas present."

Ybarra now has returned to a town lacking any opportunities. The bank he used to work for closed several years ago, forcing him to emigrate in search of a better future for his family, said Verdin.

The last thing Ybarra told Verdin before heading back home on an airplane from Tijuana was that his American dream had ended.

"He told me he was very saddened leaving the organization and to take care of it," he said.

Cases like Ybarra's are not all that uncommon and neither is immigration enforcement, which has seen an increase this year across the country and particularly in Southern California. In February, a raid inVan Nuys led to the detention of over 120 workers at a print cartridge manufacturer and onWednesday ICE announced that they had arrested 1,700 individuals nationwide from June trough September as part of Operation Community Shield.

This on top of the 1,157 arrests in California was announced by the government agency on Monday.

"This is the largest operation in California history," said Brian DeMoore, head of Detention and Removal Operations for the ICE office in Los Angeles.

DeMoore noted 600 of the arrested had ignored final orders of deportation and are therefore subject to immediate deportation.

"They're not going to go back to see a judge," he said.

He also predicted there will be more immigration enforcement in the future.

"I believe immigration enforcement will continue to be vigorous, if not more vigorous than now. We're putting teeth back in immigration," he said.

Pro-immigrant activists are very critical of these operations.

"We decry these type of actions by ICE", said Jorge Mario Cabrera, spokesperson for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). "The implementation of broken immigration laws will not prevent people from coming to this country without documents. The raids only cause panic and confusion in our community".

He also questioned the validity of the "criminal" element of those detained.

"Most of what ICE calls criminals and fugitives are people who are not authorized to be in the country but are working and forging a better future for their families," said Cabrera.

Juan Jose Gutierrez of Latino Movement USA was also critical of these operations.

"They are traumatizing the U.S. born citizens of these immigrants who don't understand why agents are coming to their homes late at night or early in the morning to take their parents away," he said.

He added many of these arrestees were perhaps "collateral" and noted that studies have shown that for every person ICE goes after, they detain nine others.

"They go into a place asking for such and such and they start asking about the immigration status of everyone else and they can't do that. People should know not to open the door unless ICE has an arrest warrant with the name of a person and that person lives there," said Gutierrez.

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