Woman charged with identity theft
The Daily Reflector
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Pitt County investigators say they arrested a supplier of fake IDs early this morning.
Brenda Ponce-Cruz, 36, of 766 Barrus Construction Road was arrested when detectives with the Pitt County Sheriff's Office searched her home at 6 a.m., said Deputy John E. Guard IV.
Guard said the office had received information that fraudulent forms of identification were being manufactured and sold from the house.
During the search, fake IDs and equipment used to manufacture different forms of identification were found and taken into custody. Specific details about the seized items were not provided.
Ponce-Cruz is charged with one count each of identity theft, trafficking stolen identities and manufacturing fraudulent identifications. She is in the Pitt County Detention Center under a $30,000 secured bond.
Guard said the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division also issued an immigration detainer for Ponce-Cruz. An immigration detainer is issued when the federal government thinks a person is in the country illegally and needs to be held until their immigration status is determined.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Woman charged with identity theft
Houston woman charged in baby smuggling case
Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 2:18 p.m.
A Houston woman is facing federal immigrant smuggling charges after she tried to pass a 7-month-old boy off as her own.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers arrested Diana Isabel Esquivel on Sunday.
Court records show that the 26-year-old American woman rode up to the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge in a taxi with a 7-month-old boy.
Esquivel claimed the child was hers and showed a birth certificate from Houston as proof but a secondary inspection revealed otherwise.
Customs officers learned that the birth certificate belonged to Esquivel's own child but that baby with her belonged to an undocumented immigrant.
Esquivel told officers she agreed to bring the baby across as a favor to the boy's mother.
Court records show that Esquivel received $100 for expenses while the baby boy was turned over to the custody of the Mexican Consulate in McAllen.
Esquivel appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter E. Ormsby on Monday where she received a $25,000 unsecured bond.
Minot police arrest 2 in mall
Published Wednesday, April 29, 2009
MINOT, N.D. (AP) — Minot police say an officer working security at the city's Dakota Square Mall found two illegal immigrants.
Police say the officer met the two men while investigating an unrelated complaint Tuesday. They say Border Patrol was called and interviewed the men, who were from Guatemala. They were taken to the Ward County Jail.
Schaumburg releases details on SWAT incident
April 27, 2009 4:24 PM
-- Staff report
An incident in a Schaumburg apartment complex that resulted in a SWAT team being called out early Saturday morning involved robbery, unlawful restraint, prostitution and illegal immigrants, police said today.
The story began when a 39-year-old Hanover Park man arrived at the Hanover Park police station about 1 a.m. Saturday and told police he had been robbed and bound by four armed people at an apartment in the 2300 block of Pennview Lane in Schaumburg. He also said other people had been tied up.
Schaumburg police were notified, and when they arrived at the scene, they saw activity in the apartment and called in the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System's Emergency Services Team, a SWAT team. The group entered the apartment about 4 a.m. and found one man, a 44-year-old Wheeling resident.
Schaumburg police believe that a prostitution ring involving illegal immigrants was operating in the apartment and that a group of armed men took over the location, robbing and detaining potential clients as they arrived.
The police said that in the three hours between the time the Hanover Park man escaped the apartment and they were called, the offenders and their victims fled.
Police spokesman Sgt. John Nebl said the man police found in the apartment is not considered a suspect or a victim in the case.
Both the Hanover Park and Wheeling men are undocumented and are in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible deportation, police said. The Schaumburg Police Department's Crime Free Multi-Housing unit is seeking to evict the apartment's residents.
No one else is in custody in the case and police are still investigating the incident.
University police turn over illegal immigrant to federal authorities
Issue date: 4/28/09 Section: City
University police turned over an undocumented immigrant to federal officials Sunday after arresting the suspect during a traffic stop, authorities said.
An officer pulled over the suspect at 3:48 a.m., suspecting that he was driving under the influence of alcohol. The traffic stop occurred at the intersection of Ridge Avenue and Noyes Street. The driver, Ramiro Sanchez-Zepeda, 25, was unable to provide a valid driver's license, Cmdr. Darren Davis said.
Sanchez-Zepeda had no visa and could not prove that he was either a United States citizen or in the country legally, Davis said.
UP contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and detained Sanchez-Zepeda overnight, Davis said. Officials took Sanchez-Zepeda into custody Monday.
The federal agency is investigating whether he is eligible for deportation, Davis said.
Sanchez-Zepeda's blood alcohol concentration was above the legal limit of 0.08, the UP crime report shows, and his vehicle was uninsured. Due to the deportation proceedings, police have dropped all traffic charges.
UP referrals to immigration officials are "infrequent," Davis said. Evanston Police could not be reached for comment, but police in the city have not traditionally investigated immigrant status, 7th Ward alderman and mayor-elect Elizabeth Tisdahl told the Daily in January.
Immigration enforcement has been a controversial issue in Evanston city government.
Last winter, the city council approved a symbolic resolution calling for the "humane and just" treatment of immigrants. The council had discussed forbidding city police officers from charging individuals with crimes based on their immigrant status, but this was not included in the final ordinance.
Foreign Divinity School Student Detained
Published On Wednesday, April 29, 2009 1:36 AM
By JESSIE J. JIANG
About a month ago, Nur Munir—a candidate for a masters degree at the Harvard Divinity School—stopped showing up to his classes. Last week, Baber Johansen, one of Munir’s professors, received an e-mail that explained his student’s month-long absence.
The e-mail stated that Munir had been detained for the past month by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement at York County Prison in York, Pa., on charges of illegal residence in the United States after his application for political asylum was denied.
Although Munir had applied for asylum in 1999 on the grounds of fear of persecution, he was denied and has been appealing the judgment since then.
Professor Baber Johansen—who received the e-mail—said that it is unlikely that Munir will return.
“There was very little hope for any legal help in this, and that the one thing one could hope is that somehow the immigration would let him finish his degree at Harvard,” he said. “It’s very, very uncertain.”
Classmates were surprised when they heard about Munir’s detention.
“In a sense it’s even more shocking just because you would never expect someone to go after someone who’s a scholar at this University and who is obviously working toward enriching society,” said Na’eel A. Cajee ’10, who is taking a History of Science seminar with Munir. “To deport them seems ludicrous.”
According to the official case report, Munir, who is of Indonesian descent, leaked a recording of a speech of then-President of Indonesia Suharto to the Indonesian Embassy in Egypt, in which Suharto expressed a willingness to step down from power. The speech was then published in Kompas, a prominent Indonesian newspaper.
Fearful of retaliation, Munir fled to United States in June 1998 and eventually enrolled at Harvard Divinity School.
In a letter to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Johansen wrote, “[Munir] was a very active member of our class who never missed a session, always engaged in the class discussions, and took a clear reformist position in his detailed papers.”
Early last week, Johansen received an e-mail from Kristine C. Mehok, a pro bono lawyer at Nationalities Service Center, inquiring whether Munir would be able to conduct distance learning from Indonesia in order to finish his degree since he can no longer stay in the United States.
According to Jean Han of Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, Munir’s lawyer has filed a deferred action application so that Munir can finish his degree at Harvard.
His fellow students have also written letters to the immigration service pleading for his case.
The letters are to be sent out today.
Illegal Immigrant Found in Salina to be Deported
Wed 09:04 AM 04/29/2009
An illegal immigrant found in Salina will be deported.
According to the U.S Attorney's Office, 31-year-old Jose A. Garcia-Ronquillo, a citizen of Mexico, is charged with unlawfully re-entering the United States after being convicted of an aggravated felony and deported. He was found April 15th in Salina.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Deputies: Pickup Filled With Illegals
Police Said Driver, Also An Illegal, Had Large Amount Of Cash
POSTED: 12:07 pm EDT April 24, 2009
WOODSTOCK, Ga. -- Cherokee County authorities said deputies discovered nine illegal immigrants under blankets in a pickup truck stopped on Interstate 575 in Woodstock Wednesday night.
Sheriff's Maj. Ron Hunton said the driver, also an illegal immigrant, had a large amount of cash and apparently had driven the group from Arizona.
Hutton said the large amount of money indicated to police the driver was hired to transport the group. He declined to specify the amount.
A deputy stopped the truck because of a tag violation.
Three-hour chase by police ends in 3 arrests
BY NUR KAUSAR • email@example.com • April 24, 2009
CEDAR CITY - A three-hour chase involving nearly 20 law enforcement officers and four dogs ended in the arrests of three men Wednesday, two of who were named undocumented immigrants.
Iron County Sheriff's deputy Wade Lee pulled over the driver of a vehicle around 5 p.m. Wednesday for speeding, when he noticed a pipe used for marijuana in the open glove box.
Lee said the suspects turned over the substance, but on checking the driver's license, the deputy found it to be false.
He also found $12,000 worth of prescription medications, including narcotics, which the driver had been paid by a courier company to deliver to the Cedar City Wal-Mart, he said.
The driver, Diego Jimenez, age 21, of Las Vegas, ran from Lee and was caught 10 miles from where he ran, near Hamilton Fort at 8 p.m.
"We had 20 officers chasing him. The chase started around 5 p.m. near mile post 45. Then he ran onto the freeway, almost got hit, went through some trees and houses, and eventually got a ride from a motorist," Lee said.
An officer pulled that vehicle over to ask if the driver had seen Jimenez, and Lee arrested the suspect when he saw him running onto the road.
Lee said pharmacists at Wal-Mart were expecting the delivery, which he made himself, and found inventory to be correct.
The medications came from a Wal-Mart distribution center out of Hanford, Calif., according to the address given, but Lee did not have information on the courier company that allegedly paid Jimenez $150 to make the delivery.
The Iron County Drug Task Force is also working on the case and called the Drug Enforcement Administration, for which task force officer Melissa Fritz-Fuller said has policies for pharmaceuticals delivery.
"The DEA has very specific stipulations on transporting from a vendor to a pharmacy," she said. "The carrier has to be able to work here."
Jimenez is charged with forgery, failure to stop at the command of an officer, marijuana and paraphernalia possession and escape from custody. He is on hold by the INS, Lee said.
Maurico Jimenez, age 19, and Kyle Matthew Gutierrez, age 21, were also arrested during the traffic stop.
Colusa man deported after drug arrest
Friday, Apr 24 2009, 1:03 pm
By Rob Young/Appeal-Democrat
A Colusa man was deported Thursday following his arrest last week in a three-county drug and gang sweep.
Operation Hammer, an undercover operation aimed at drugs, guns and gangs, nailed 18 suspects, including the Colusa man and his girlfriend, a drug enforcement official said.
“Operation Hammer is the latest example of Net 5’s and the Sutter County Gang Task Force’s aggressive, proactive, investigative approach to diminish the availability of drugs and gang activity in the Yuba-Sutter area,” said Mike Hudson, commander of the Yuba-Sutter Narcotic Enforcement Team (Net 5).
With support from local law enforcement, task force agents arrested Edgar Sanchez-Vazquez, 29, of Colusa on April 17 on suspicion of selling guns to gangs. Vazquez allegedly had a stolen 9mm handgun and nearly $2,000 in drug money in his possession.
Vazquez’s girlfriend, Martha Patricia Rocha, 29, was arrested the previous day at the couple’s home in the 200 block of Allen Circle.
Both were booked into Colusa County Jail on suspicion of selling methamphetamine, child endangerment and illegal entry. Sanchez-Vazquez was also charged with street gang participation, receiving stolen property, both felonies, and misdemeanor weapons possession.
The couple’s three children, ages 3 to 7, were placed in protective custody. Sanchez-Vazquez’s 17-year-old brother, who was also living there, was arrested on suspicion of selling marijuana and street gang participation.
Sanchez-Vazquez was deported to Mexico on Thursday by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That same day, Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputies transported Rocha to San Jose on an outstanding petty theft arrest warrant, a jail spokeswoman confirmed.
Seven of the 18 suspects arrested in the sweep are known gang members or associates. The six-month operation also resulted in the seizure of six guns, 389 marijuana plants, 240 grams of methamphetamine, nine grams of cocaine, two grams of hashish and more than $12,000 in drug proceeds, said Hudson.
Immigration detainers for 4 arrested at Morristown restaurant
By Minhaj Hassan • Daily Record • April 24, 2009
MORRISTOWN - Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have placed detainers on four peopel arrested Wednesday for conducting illegal activities at the Honduran Grill restaurant on Early Street.
“We have placed detainers on the four individuals who were arrested by police,” ICE Spokesman Harold Ort confirmed Friday afternoon. “We have an interest in those individuals.”
After the charges are adjudicated, Ort said the individuals will be in the custody of ICE for deportation hearings.
Police raided the restaurant after complaints from residents about alleged drug activity and selling alcohol without a liquor license.
Robert Guerra, 36, of Morristown, was charged with four counts of consumption of alcohol in a restaurant without a license, four counts of maintaining a nuisance and operating a business with a voided corporate charter, police said.
He is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Also arrested was a restaurant waitress, Miriam Lamos-Martinez, 21, of Morristown. She was charged with distribution of a controlled dangerous substance within 1,000 feet of a school zone, and as four counts of consumption of alcohol in a restaurant without a license. She is being held on $75,000 bail.
The two others who were arrested were Leonardo Diaz-Hernandez, 47, and Marvin Rivera, 31, both of Morristown. Both were charged with possession of cocaine. They are each being held on $25,000 bail.
Arpaio crime sweep enters 2nd day in W. Valley
by Heather Hoch - Apr. 24, 2009 04:38 PM
The Arizona Republic
Sheriff Joe Arpaio's crime suppression sweep reached into its second day of operation in the West Valley Friday.
The sweep Thursday night resulted in the arrest of 23 people, eight of which were suspected to be undocumented immigrants, according to a release from Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
During the sweep, several people allegedly heavily armed in police raid gear broke into a home near the 13000 block of Campbell Road in Litchfield Park and kidnapped two individuals at about midnight.
Authorities were able to rescue one of the victims are recover the weapons and raid gear used in the attack.
Sheriff's deputies were also involved in a high speed pursuit during the sweep, according to the release.
The driver sped past a deputy at over 100 miles per hour and failed to yield. The man rammed into the deputy's vehicle in an attempt to evade the arrest, but was arrested on suspicion of nine charges including aggravated assault of a peace officer, reckless driving, driving a stolen vehicle, and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Illegal immigrant arrested in Franklin
By Joyce Kelly/Daily News staff
Sat Apr 25, 2009, 03:23 PM EDT
FRANKLIN - Immigration authorities are deporting a Brazilian man living illegally in Milford, said Paula Grenier, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Police in Franklin stopped 43-year-old Paulo Anacleto DaSilva, of 5 Jefferson St., for a traffic violation on King Street on Thursday at about 3:40 p.m. They arrested him on a warrant from customs, according to police.
DaSilva is now in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and arrangements are being made for him to be deported, Grenier said.
She could not say whether DaSilva has family here, how long he's been in the United States, where he worked or at which facility he is being held.
At some point DaSilva went before a judge at an immigration court and was ordered to leave the country. A warrant of deportation was issued when he did not comply.
Franklin Police could not be reached for comment.
Nine Immigrants Arrested In Traffic Stop
Last updated Friday, April 24, 2009 7:37 PM CDT in News
By Caleb Fort
THE MORNING NEWS
A traffic stop Thursday evening in Bella Vista ended with the arrest of nine illegal immigrants, including two teenage sisters, authorities said.
Three of the immigrants will face federal felony charges for re-entry into the United States, officials said Friday. All will eventually be deported, said Sgt. Brandon Rogers, head of the Benton County Sheriff's Office Crime Suppression Unit.
All nine were Mexican nationals, Rogers said.
Members of the suppression unit were patrolling U.S. 71 in search of gun, drug and human trafficking, Rogers said. One of them, Deputy 1st Class Corey Coggin, noticed a black Dodge Durango with Arizona license plates. Rogers said the driver began driving erratically when he saw Coggin, and the Durango crossed the center and sidelines.
Coggin pulled the Durango over near Trafalgar Road.
Inside the seven-passenger SUV were nine people, water bottles, open maps, no luggage and a smell like an outhouse, all signs of human smuggling, Rogers said.
"It's terrible the way these guys travel," Rogers said.
Crammed into a vehicle, they stop as little as possible to avoid attracting attention, using plastic jugs to urinate instead of bathrooms, Rogers said.
The maps showed routes to New York and the Northeast, but the driver, Eliodoro Adame-Ortega, said they were traveling from Phoenix to Fort Smith, according to a news release from the sheriff's office.
Adame-Ortega and two others will face federal charges for re-entry, Rogers said. Adame-Ortega will also face federal charges related to transporting the other eight, Rogers said.
Rogers said he did not have any further information about those arrested. They were released to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in Fayetteville, he said.
Temple Black, a spokesman for ICE, said the two juveniles and their family members were released with an order to appear before an immigration judge.
ICE was still holding five of the immigrants, he said. ICE is not allowed to release any personal information, such as names or ages, even in the case of criminal charges, he said.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Thrice-deported man nabbed again in N.H.
April 23, 2009 9:05 AM
MILFORD, N.H. (AP) — Authorities say a Canadian national who has been kicked out of the United States three times has been sentenced to nine months in jail for having come back yet again.
The Telegraph reports 45-year-old Bruce Morine had been jailed since his arrest and indictment last year, after federal immigration agents found he was living in Milford.
Morine, also known as Terry Morine, Bruce Kelly, and Kevin Kelly, had been deported from the United States three times from October 1986 through May 2008. Morine was sentenced to six years in prison in 1988, after he was convicted of re-entering the U.S. and transportation of stolen goods, prosecutors stated in court records.
Morine could have faced up to 20 years in prison, but was sentenced to nine months after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors. Prosecutor say although he's already served his sentence, he will remain in custody pending deportation.
Owner of Mandarin restaurant to be deported after jail
He employed illegal immigrants at Cilantro, a popular Jacksonville restaurant.
* By Paul Pinkham
* Story updated at 7:35 AM on Tuesday, Apr. 21, 2009
The co-owner of a popular Jacksonville restaurant received a three-month sentence Monday for harboring illegal aliens and faces certain deportation to his native India.
Sanjit Kumar Rajak, who was head chef and manager of Cilantro Indian Cuisine in Mandarin, will complete his prison sentence in about a week because he has been behind bars since his January arrest. He agreed to a $5,000 fine.
His lawyer, Shawn Arnold, said he expects deportation proceedings to begin immediately, a bitter end for a successful businessman who lived a rags-to-riches story. Arnold said Rajak won't be allowed to re-enter the United States for five to 10 years.
Rajak admitted hiring four illegal workers and leasing their Sunbeam Road apartment. He has no other criminal record.
"We don't see very many employers, as opposed to employees, prosecuted under the immigration laws," U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan said.
During the investigation, immigration authorities learned Rajak had entered the United States in 2002 with fraudulent documentation that he was a religious worker, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dale Campion said. That documentation allowed Rajak to remain in the country longer than the three days allowed by his foreign crew visa and made it easier to become a permanent resident, Campion said.
But Campion also noted Rajak has been "quite helpful" with investigations in at least two other jurisdictions, meriting a shorter sentence.
As his American fiancee wept in the back of the courtroom, Rajak told Corrigan about growing up in poverty and about finding cooking jobs in Bombay and then a cruise ship to support his family in India.
"A generation or two ago, he would have been celebrated, not in shackles," Arnold said.
Rajak testified that his father couldn't work after donating a kidney to Rajak's brother, who had cancer. So when his ship docked in Port Canaveral, he left and found higher-paying work at a Melbourne restaurant. He said he falsified the documents after a lawyer advised him his immigration chances would improve if he declared himself a religious worker.
"At that moment, I was thinking ... I had no other option," he told Corrigan. "My only intention was to work hard and support my family."
Within a year he was head chef, and when a colleague suggested opening a restaurant in Jacksonville, he went along. Cilantro opened to rave reviews in 2006, and a sister restaurant followed in Tampa. Arnold said Rajak earned about $72,000 last year and paid his taxes since opening the restaurant.
Rajak told Corrigan he hired aliens after poor response to advertisements for American workers. He said he leased the apartment because he didn't want them living on the streets. But Campion said Rajak gained an unfair advantage over competitors by hiring illegal workers.
Woman arrested, charged with transporting illegal aliens
By Brad Franko
Published: April 21, 2009
Mount Pleasant police arrested a woman Monday on charges of transporting illegal immigrants.
According to a report sent to us by the Mount Pleasant Police Department, an officer pulled over a van on the Ravenel Bridge on April 18th, because he couldn’t see the license tag, and the driver didn’t wear his seatbelt. That traffic stop, turned into a major investigation.
The report says there were seven people in the van, and the suspect, Melissa Segura is now facing charges of transporting illegal aliens.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained four of the passengers, and released two others.
According to police, Segura had drugs, a large amount of cash, and what officers described in the report as a “ledger of 15 names believed to be Hispanic individuals with monetary values next to each name”.
Two Boone County men arrested in immigration bust
April 20, 2009 03:34 PM
CHICAGO (WREX) - Federal immigration agents in Chicago arrest 17 immigrants with alleged ties to violent street gangs. The two-day operation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents targeted Chicago's northern and northwest suburbs.
Of the 17 men arrested, 15 were illegal aliens and two were permanent residents. One of the suspects lived in Belvidere; another was in Capron. The suspects have been placed in deportation proceedings.
ICE says the men are members of gangs including the Boulevard Latin Kings, Latin Counts, and Surenos-13.
Several Illinois law enforcement agencies helped in the bust including the Boone County Sheriff's Office and the Belvidere Police Department.
Manhunt for Illegal Immigrants is over
April 23, 2009 11:12 AM
By Amanda Ward
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Headed to a containment facility in Basile, more than ten illegal immigrants loaded a van to meet their fates.
Two of which have been on the run for nearly a day after escaping arrest in Johnson Bayou.
"Just like any other law enforcement agency, we have things to look for to pull people over. We don't just randomly select vehicles, and we had reason to believe that these men were in violation of immigration laws," said Fred Haney. Haney is the Patrol Agent in Charge for the Lake Charles station of the New Orleans Sector of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
It was around 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, when agents stopped a van of what turned out to be three illegals, but a struggle with one resulted in the escape of two. And, that sparked an all day manhunt and the lockdown of Johnson Bayou High School.
For 18 hours, the two men were handcuffed together on the run. They trekked through the muddy marsh with bare feet and took their chances against snakes, alligators, and mosquitos to avoid capture. But eventually time ran out.
Cameron Parish Sheriff's officials located and arrested the two around 1:00 a.m. Wednesday in a camper they'd been staying in.
"We're thankful for the Cameron Parish Sheriff's Office, and the air brigade that helped with the search. Also, the residents along Constance Beach helped us out," said Agent Haney.
Once in Basile, some of the immigrants may have the opportunity to voluntarily return home, but others will have to report to court and a judge will decide whether a formal deportation is neccessary.
But, as for the two that escaped and were caught, "They will see a judge... And that judge will likely order a formal deportation," said Ageny Haney.
Sheriff Joe planning another crime sweep tonight
07:45 AM Mountain Standard Time on Thursday, April 23, 2009
Javier Soto and Catherine Holland / azfamily
MARICOPA COUNTY -- Maricopa County deputies and posse members will be out in force tonight for another crime suppression operation, but the exact time and location are being kept under wraps.
Similar crime sweeps have stirred up controversy of the past year, with some calling the operations nothing more than racial profiling. The sweeps, which are conducted under the 287(g) program, which allows local law-enforcement agencies to arrest illegal immigrants, are also the center of a hearing earlier this month in the U.S. House of Representative, a hearing to which Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he was not invited.
Arpaio said at the time that he was not concerned about not testifying at the hearing.
“I'm not concerned. I'm going to continue to enforce the illegal immigration laws," he said. "I'll never be forced out. They can put that in their pipe.”
While nothing was decided at that hearing, more hearings are expected.
Arpaio is a staunch defender of the 287(g) program.
"My office is trained by the federal government -- ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- ... five weeks of intensive training on how to identify people that may be here illegally," he said on The Colbert Report last week. "We don’t stop people on the street corner and lock them up because they look like they're from Mexico or any other country. Pursuant to our duties, when we're doing a crime suppression or other operation, if we come across illegals, we have the training to pursue them."
Arpaio and his department remain under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for alleged discriminatory practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures.
Some 200 deputies and posse volunteers were expected to gather at about 5 p.m. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said it will release more information about tonight's planned sweep later in the day.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Sheriff’s Office Helps Immigration Agents
[Audio available; click link]
Produced by Chip Mitchell on Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Dozens of U.S. municipalities have declared themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. A Cook County declaration bans the Sheriff’s Office from assisting with an investigation of someone’s immigration status. The stated goals are to build trust in local law enforcement and encourage immigrants to help fight domestic violence, drug trafficking and even terrorism. But almost two years since the sanctuary declaration passed, immigration agents are still getting assistance from the Sheriff’s Office. Last year alone, according to the office, immigration officials took some 250 county inmates into custody.
In Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, attorney Salvador Cícero is having what he calls a routine morning. On the other side of his desk sits a 40-year-old homemaker. She wants help getting her husband out of jail
WIFE: Mi niño más chiquito pregunta, ‘Cuando va a llegar mi papi?’
She says their 10-year-old is asking for his daddy. Cícero picks up the phone to get answers from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.
CÍCERO: Lieutenant, how are you? I’m looking into the case of Miguel García. We wanted to make sure that he had been released. He paid his bail last Wednesday.
Police stopped García for allegedly driving under the influence. That charge turned into a felony because, like many undocumented immigrants, García couldn’t provide a valid driver’s license. García landed in a holding area of the courthouse on 26th and California.
Soon after his arrival, the Sheriff’s Office began helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency known as ICE. The assistance seems at odds with the county’s sanctuary declaration. First, the sheriff allowed ICE to interview García — even though, according to ICE, no federal statute requires that access.
Like many other inmates, García hadn’t had a chance to speak with an attorney yet.
WHITE: Sometimes we’re not sure if they even know who the ICE agents are.
Deborah White heads the Cook County Public Defender’s felony trial division.
WHITE: And they give incriminating information to these agents.
As García prepared to post bond in his criminal case, ICE put a hold on him because he’s an illegal alien. Then the Sheriff’s Office helped the immigration agency again. The office kept García for ICE for more than two business days after he posted the bond. The federal government prohibits this.
Here’s Salvador Cícero, the attorney, on the phone with the Sheriff’s Office again.
CÍCERO: It has been past the 48 hours. So I would like this guy released. Can I follow up with you maybe in an hour? Thank you, Lieutenant. Bye.
MITCHELL: How often does this happen?
CÍCERO: Well, the reality is we’ve been seeing it two or three times a month, sometimes.
In a statement, Sheriff Tom Dart’s Office says it never knowingly holds inmates for ICE beyond the 48 hours. And once inmates are in the jail next to the courthouse, the Sheriff’s Office says it doesn’t let ICE speak to them. Asked who’s letting ICE interview inmates before their bond hearing, Dart’s office says it’s the jurisdiction of the State’s Attorney and the Circuit Court chief judge.
Those officials respond that only the sheriff controls the courthouse’s holding cells.
One man who’s not happy with the way things are working at 26th and California is Cook County Commissioner Roberto Maldonado. He pushed the sanctuary declaration through the county board in 2007.
MALDONADO: None of the independent elected officials, like the state’s attorney or the sheriff, none of them has gone to the courts to challenge our ordinance and say, ‘We are exempt.’ Right now all of them, all those constitutional officers, must abide by the ordinance.
When it came to Miguel García’s case, attorney Salvador Cícero says the Sheriff’s Office didn’t abide by the sanctuary measure.
But the county’s independent inspector general, Patrick Blanchard, says his office hasn’t received any complaints alleging sanctuary violations.
In his Pilsen office, Cícero breaks some bad news to García’s wife.
CÍCERO: Me pude comunicar con la teniente Johnson, que me confirmó que sí lo recogieron esta mañana.
He says the Sheriff’s Office has handed over her husband to ICE.
WIFE: Aquí tengo mi casa pero si me esposo no está no voy a poder pagarla....
Garcia’s wife says she won’t be able to afford their house without him. And she worries about their two youngest. They’re U.S. citizens.
García will now likely face deportation. And plenty of people believe he should, because he entered the country illegally. But Commissioner Maldonado says he’ll keep fighting to sever links between the Sheriff’s Office and federal immigration officials.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Profiles of citizens detained or deported
The Associated Press
Sunday, April 12, 2009
HUGO ALVARADO JR., 22
Hugo Alvarado Jr. was drinking Bud Lites with friends outside his Tulsa, Okla., apartment complex on a sunny Saturday two years ago. Many who lived in the apartments were immigrants, but Alvarado was born in Bakersville, Calif.
It was 9 p.m. when the immigration officers arrived, Alvarado says.
The approximately 15 people he was with quickly scattered. Alvarado was nabbed. When he was booked, Alvarado says, he refused to give officers his Social Security number because as a citizen he didn't think he had to.
"An 'Americano,' a white person, they wouldn't ask," Alvarado says.
Officers made up a Social Security number to write in a blank on their paperwork, he says.
Later, asked again by another officer for his Social Security number, he gave it. But because it was different from the number the first officer had written, he was accused of lying.
He was kept in detention for about two days, until his father brought proof of his citizenship.
Jim Hayes, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, says the agency does not intentionally jail U.S. citizens.
JUAN MANUEL CARRILLO, JR., 19
Mount Pleasant, Texas
On Aug. 16 last year, Juan Manuel Carrillo Jr. was beginning his shift at the Pilgrim's Pride plant in Mount Pleasant, Texas, when managers began calling workers to the office. His name was called.
"I went and another group of people went. We thought it was a drug test. We didn't think it was immigration," Carrillo said in Spanish.
Instead, immigration officials had his name on a warrant. The sweep for illegal workers was one of five in April 2008 at Pilgrim's Pride plants across the country. About 400 people were taken into custody, Pilgrim's Pride said. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said 300 were arrested.
Carrillo, who was born in San Diego, was among them. He said he told officers he was a citizen, but his hands and feet were cuffed and he was put in a van and taken to a detention center in Tyler, 40 miles away. He only had a driver's license on him.
Carrillo protested again and told the driver he was a citizen. The driver told him to shut up.
"I had been working well and everything and no one wanted to listen to someone who was legally here," Carrillo said. "They need to listen."
He told officers his passport was at home and the officers went to his apartment to retrieve it. Carrillo said his brother was home at the time. Officers pushed their way in, he said, and began questioning his brother about who lived at the apartment and about their legal status.
After 12 hours in detention, Carrillo was released.
"It makes you feel like a criminal, as if you did something, as ifyou killed someone," Carrillo said.
Jim Hayes, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the agency does not intentionally jail U.S. citizens.
RMG CASTRO, 6 (full name not used because citizen is a child)
Corpus Christi, Texas
Monica Castro didn't see her daughter for three years because the child, a U.S. citizen, was sent to Mexico.
Castro walked out on her common-law husband, Omar Gallardo, and their Shallowater, Texas, trailer home in late November 2003.
Gallardo, an illegal immigrant, wouldn't give up the nearly 1-year-old child. So Castro, a U.S. citizen, went to the Border Patrol and turned him in. She thought they'd get her daughter back.
Eight hours after the Border Patrol picked up her husband, Castro's daughter was put in a government vehicle without a child car seat and sent on a more than 300-mile trip to the U.S.-Mexico border.
"It was the last resort I had, to call immigration," she said. "I know it was wrong and I regret it ... but I had a daughter. It really scared me. They said they would help me and when it actually came down to it they changed their story."
The Border Patrol does not consider the girl "deported" because she could return to the country when she wanted as a U.S. citizen, and was with a parent who had legal custody of her under Texas law.
For three years, all Castro knew was that her daughter was somewhere in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, a city of 1.3 million. There were no phone calls, no photos, no letters.
"I missed all those baby years I could have spent with her," Castro said, the sadness filtering into her voice. "Nothing can bring back those memories I missed from 1 until she was 4."
Castro helped law enforcement track down Gallardo with a license plate number her relatives scribbled down when they saw him in Shallowater. He was arrested and told law enforcement officers where to find his daughter.
"When we reunited, me and her, she didn't know who I was," Castro said. "She was kicking me. She was pushing me. She was hitting me. She didn't want nothing to do with me."
Castro sued the Border Patrol. A federal district court judge dismissed her suit, finding that there were no laws or policies that dictated how agents should act in such a case. However, the 5th Circuit Court reversed the decision and it is now pending in district court.
The Border Patrol declined comment because of the lawsuit.
"At the end of the day, if the Border Patrol has a U.S. citizen child in their custody and a U.S. citizen parent shows up, there is no reason why the Border Patrol should honor the alien parent and have the child sent back with the alien parent," said Javier Maldonado, a San Antonio attorney.
KENRICK FONCETTE, 38
From: Brooklyn, New York
The story of Kenrick Foncette shows how tricky it can be to decide who is a citizen.
After Foncette served time in jail for burglary, immigration officials tried to deport him three times.
The first two times, a judge resolved the issue. In the meantime, while in prison, Foncette took courses adding up to two years of college and learned carpentry skills.
On May 25, 2004, he was called in by his parole office. When he arrived, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were waiting.
This time, ICE sought to deport Foncette for a 1987 weapons charge and a 1991 attempted robbery. Legal residents who commit certain crimes can be deported under a 1996 law.
Foncette filed a petition for citizenship on Oct. 13, 2004. He stated that his mother, Whilma Virginia Jacob-Foncette, had naturalizedthree decades earlier. He had entered the country when he was 14 and lived with his mother.
His application was denied. The government argued that his mother did not have legal custody and questioned whether his parents were really separated. An immigration judge ordered him deported to Trinidad and Tobago.
Foncette appealed. His family went to Trinidad to get a copy of the separation hearing. But when they arrived, they learned a 1986 flood had destroyed the records.
At another hearing, the High Court of Trinidad made clear that Foncette's parents had split. Government attorneys tried to argue that foreign law did not apply. But on Jan. 17, 2007, a federal appeals court found Foncette a U.S. citizen.
At 9 p.m. that night, Foncette was released after nearly three years in detention, without bus fare or the chance to ask family to meet him.
"I lost everything. I had to start all over again," he said. "When I say everything, I mean everything. Bank account, house, clothing, everything."
HEIDY HAZEL BAIRES LARIOS, 32
Three years ago, Heidy Hazel Baires Larios was on her way to a party with friends when they were pulled over by police.
Her friends had beer in the car. She was jailed as a deportable legal resident because she had served six months in 2002 on a conviction of less than a gram of cocaine.
Baires spent the next two years in jail while her claim to U.S. citizenship churned through the system.
"I was praying and never lost my faith. I never lose my faith no matter what. This is a tribulation in life to see how faithful we are. That's my belief," said Baires, 32.
Baires was born in El Salvador. Her parents divorced in 1978. Two years later, her father became a U.S. citizen and took custody of her. She joined her father in the U.S. in November 1990.
An immigration judge ruled she was not a citizen because she was not in her father's custody when he naturalized. But the Board of Immigration Appeals overturned the finding. And the immigration judge accepted school records showing she had been in her father's custody before she turned 18.
Jim Hayes, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, says the agency does not intentionally jail U.S. citizens and that the removal process can help sort out complex citizenship cases.
But attorneys and advocates say the government does a poor job of ensuring it isn't locking up a U.S. citizen.
"ICE only has to have a reasonable suspicion and immediately they can take that person into custody or put a detainer on the person to prevent the person from being released," said Ali Beydoun, supervising attorney, of UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic at American University.
LEONARD PARRISH, 52
Leonard Parrish prided himself on being a 50-year-old black man who lived straight and raised five good kids. As a former prison supervisor, he knew what jail was like only from the other side of the bars.
Parrish was born in Newark, N.J., grew up in New York and lives in Texas. Last September, he went to the sheriff's office in Harris County to clear up three bounced checks written a couple of years earlier for no more than $30 each.
There, he was told he had a strange accent, photographed, fingerprinted, made to strip to his underwear and jailed for nearly 10 hours as an illegal immigrant. The sheriff's department told the AP that the computer listed his citizenship status as "unknown" because he hadn't been arrested before.
Parrish is still incredulous when he recounts the story. He said he gave sheriff's officials his Social Security card and driver's license, but both were dismissed as possible fakes. He said officers also refused to investigate his citizenship claim.
In the meantime, his wife, a teacher, waited three hours outside the office before she was told what had happened. He was denied use of a phone to call his family.
Parrish said he has received no apology from the sheriff's office and is now looking for a lawyer. Jim Hayes, the director of Immigration Customs and Enforcement, said ICE had no role in the case. But a month before Parrish's detention, the Harris County sheriff's office made an official agreement with ICE to help enforce immigration law. That agreement includes training by ICE, although ICE said none of the officers it trained were involved in Parrish's case.
"I felt very violated, very violated," said Parrish, a cafeteria worker. "There is nothing that can take away that thought, that feeling. Never. It will be with me for the rest of my life. I just don't want it to happen to anyone else."
DUARNIS PEREZ, 36
San Antonio, Texas
Duarnis Perez and immigration officials played a long cat-and-mouse game across several countries before he was finally found to be a U.S. citizen.
Perez was born in the Dominican Republic and went to the U.S. at 15. He became a citizen when his mother naturalized.
He went to college, but dropped out and turned to selling drugs to pay off his school loans. As he puts it, "I tried to get the fast and easy way out."
In 1995, Perez was sentenced to three years' probation for a guilty plea to a drug charge. During probation, he was sent a deportation order. When he showed up for his hearing, he says, the attorney whom he'd paid $2,500 was nowhere to be found.
Perez's deportation was rescheduled and he was held for six weeks in detention. He says he told the court that his mother had become a citizen and he too was one. But he said he was ignored.
He was put on a plane from Boston to the Dominican Republic, where his mother still owned a home.
From there, Perez used his green card to get to Haiti and then to Canada. From Canada, he rode in a bus across the border and lived in New York as an "illegal" immigrant for three years.
A year later, he was in a car with a friend who was pulled over. When Perez couldn't produce a driver's license, he was arrested again.
He was sent first to a New York detention center known as "The Tombs" for its lack of light and then to prison on Riker's Island. After a month he was extradited to Rhode Island and released.
"I walked out of the courthouse that same day. I was so scared I just jumped on one of them Greyhound buses back to New York City ... The next thing I hear, they go to my house and they start looking for me," Perez says.
After a month in New York, he returned to Rhode Island to see his mother. One day, he and his brother spotted a Camaro that passed them but then turned around. His brother yelled: Run! Run!
Perez hid in a tiny closet in his mother's house for hours. He says he heard immigration officers questioning his mother and brother, cursing them and threatening to shoot him if they found him. One of the officers looked inside the closet but missed him.
After the officers left, Perez hid in his mother's trunk as she drove across the Connecticut border.
He left the next day for the Dominican Republic. There, he worked at a hotel long enough to earn the money for a trip back to the United States. He flew to Canada and crossed the border "illegally."
Yet again, he left for the Dominican Republic, and yet again tried to get into the U.S. This time his train from Canada to New York was stopped, and immigration agents asked passengers to produce identity documents. Perez was taken into custody.
This time he was shackled, handcuffed and sentenced to 57 months in prison for re-entering the country "illegally." That's when he landed in jail in Fort Dix.
Another detainee helped Perez research the law on U.S. citizenship, and he got his mother to give the information to a Rhode Island lawyer. After almost five years, an immigration officer asked Perez three questions, made a phone call to Newark and verified he was not an illegal immigrant.
But an hour later, two New Jersey detectives showed up. They locked him up again, in a county jail in Trenton. His mother didn't know and waited all night outside the Fort Dix jail, sleeping in a gas station.
When she learned he was in Trenton, she took out a $5,000 loan on her home to bail him out.
"It's really crazy they can do this to people," Perez says. "Who knows how many others are back at home, who didn't do what I did because they didn't have a family who stood up and helped them?"
A judge dismissed Perez' lawsuit against the government, saying the government couldn't have known he was a citizen.
"There is no justice here," he says. "Justice is for people who have cash. Martha Stewart spent a couple years in jail for tax evasion. I did more time than her."
OMAR JORGE PEREZ MORENO, 23
South Bend, Wash.
Omar Jorge Perez Moreno was arrested when he was 20 for living with his 14-year-old girlfriend.
He says he didn't know his relationship with her constituted statutory rape. But he pleaded guilty as advised, served 2½ months in prison and began three years of probation.
After he was released, Perez Moreno went back to his work at an oyster processing plant. But he failed to keep acouple of his probation appointments, which led to a warrant for his arrest. On May 26 last year, police pulled Perez Moreno over for driving over the speed limit and the warrant popped up.
Perez Moreno was sentenced to 40 days in prison. After 25 days, an immigration officer said he would be shifted to immigration custody.
Suddenly Perez Moreno was facing deportation to Mexico. He saw others who had been in detention for years while fighting for their claim to citizenship. He was "desesperado," he said. Hopeless. He started making plans for a life in Mexico.
"I just didn't want to sit there. I had to get out. I couldn't take it any more," he said. "Nobody likes their freedom taken away."
One morning an officer woke him up and told him the Northwest Immigration Rights Project wanted to speak to him. Melissa Williams Avelar asked him a few questions. Did his family have legal residency? When did his dad become a citizen? She quickly determined Perez Moreno is a citizen.
"I was like, what?" Perez Moreno said. "I was extremely happy at that point. It's an unexplainable feeling. I was in shock. I had no words."
The day after his release, Perez Moreno reported to the country sheriff as required for registered sex offenders. He went back to his job at the oyster processing plant.
Fluent in Spanish and English, he would like to be a translator.
"I know this is a chance that God gave me because not a lot of people get these chances," he said.
Even though he didn't know he was a citizen, he says immigration should have.
"It's their job to know what they do," Perez Moreno said. "It's their job to know who is in there and why they are in there and go the extra mile to make sure they don't have U.S. citizens in there like they did me."
ALICIA RODRIGUEZ, 30
Alicia Rodriguez still aches over missing her son's first day of kindergarten.
Rodriguez is a third-generation American who speaks only English. She was driving home on a Sunday night when police pulled her over. They had a warrant for two unpaid tickets for driving without insurance and an expired car registration.
At the station, police ran her name through a national crime database. The database declared her an illegal immigrant. She was booked, fingerprinted and put in a holding cell. Police thought she was another Alicia Rodriguez, an illegal immigrant with the same name, birthday and height.
She slept on a bedroll in a cell that night. The next morning she was called out of the cafeteria while eating breakfast. She thought she was going home. That's when she learned for the first time why she was being held.
"They told me they thought I was an illegal immigrant. ... They did not believe I was a citizen," she said, the astonishment fresh in her voice.
Rodriguez said she asked whether her fingerprints matched those of the other woman, but her question was ignored. She was chained to others and loaded into a van headed for another jail.
She pleaded desperately with the driver that she was an American and had voted in every election since she turned 18. He didn't believe her.
At the second jail, panic struck. She couldn't breathe and medics were called to administer oxygen.
After lunch she was finally released. Her sister had gone to the courthouse to buy a new copy of Alicia's birth certificate. But by then, her son Jude was already well into the school day.
"He did ask, 'Mommy, it was my first day, where were you?'" said Rodriguez, of Mansfield, Texas. "It's heart-wrenching. He's my son."
Rodriguez acknowledges she should have paid her tickets, but argues that more effort should have been made to verify who she was.
"If my name was not what my name is, if my skin color was not what my skin color is, I would have gone in, paid my fine, and it would have been over in two hours," Rodriguez said.
Jim Hayes, the director of Immigration Customs and Enforcement, said Rodriguez was never in ICE custody. He said if she was held, it was by the Arlington Police Department because of the traffic charge.
"Did we question her? Yes. We determined she was not amenable to removal. I believe there was evidence she was a U.S. citizen," Hayes said.
Hayes said he did not know at what point ICE determined she was a citizen. "You are assuming I read the file," he said.
Arlington police spokesman Lt. Blake Miller said the agency only holds people on immigration violations if asked to by ICE.
JOSE MANUEL GONZALEZ VILLAVICENCIO, 28
On May 5, 2007, Jose Manuel Gonzalez Villavicencio was sitting in a chair in an immigration office waiting room. He had an appointment to replace his temporary green card with a permanent one.
The next thing he knew, he had three immigration officers standing by him. They took him outside and handcuffed him.
He'd been in trouble with the law before. When he was 16, he had a child by a girlfriend who was a year or two younger. When he turned 18, he was charged with having sex with a minor. He pleaded no contest and was given a 45-day sentence.
ICE officers used that conviction as a reason to deport him, along with other minor crimes such as marijuana possession and carrying a concealed weapon.
In detention, Villavicencio said, he had only one thought: "My son." Villavicencio said he considered agreeing to deportation simply to see his son again.
The officers wrote a warrant for him while he was in custody, he said. They told him it was their way of wishing him Happy Cinco de Mayo.
His mother hired an attorney with $500 Villavicencio had set aside to pay his electric bill. But the attorney's office sent a paralegal and stopped working on his behalf when the money went dry.
Villavicencio then found a number for a non-profit group, Northwest Immigration Rights Project, which after a couple of minutes with him discerned he was likely a citizen. By the next day, the research was done to show his mother had naturalized while he was under 18, making him a citizen.
He was released after two weeks in detention. But by then, he had lost his minimum wage job at Wendy's. He was offered some work, but the hours were few.
His electricity was turned off when he failed to pay the bill because the money went to the law firm instead. He wants the money back.
"I get out and my electricity turns off," he said. "So I'm sitting here broke, without a penny."
Woodland man tries to help his wife who faces deportation
By CRYSTAL LEEfirstname.lastname@example.org
Created: 04/13/2009 02:29:04 AM PDT
Life has been rough for Rashmir Kaur. Her story begins in her native Fiji, where she tolerated an abusive arranged marriage for 11 years. She finally left her husband when her brother gave his blessing for her to do so.
But for the next half dozen years, the ex-husband terrorized Kaur until she went into hiding at a friend's house.
In April 2005, Kaur, on her brother's advice, married an American man -- the brother's friend -- and moved to the U.S. on an immigrant visa. She lived with her parents and brothers in Dixon. To Kaur's surprise, her new husband never contacted her.
Tradition dictated that Kaur, as a Sikh woman of Punjabi descent, should never question her brother's counsel, but she was tired of living her life under the instructions of others.
By January 2007, Kaur was dating Richard Salazar, a Woodland resident and forklift operator she had met while working as a janitor at a local warehouse. It was an immediate attraction -- Salazar thought she was beautiful, and Kaur liked him because he was nice and never tried to make a pass at her the way some of the other workers did.
They moved into an apartment together and married almost two years later, after Kaur finalized the divorce from her absentee second husband.
Kaur's family, of course, was not happy with her newfound independence and apparent rebellion. But to Kaur, who was starting a career as a nurse's assistant, she was only doing what made her happy, finally leaving behind a life of submission.
"When we got together," Salazar, 38, said in March, "it was the first time she was living her life the way she wanted to." He said Kaur found joy in simple household tasks, such as buying curtains and a new microwave for their apartment.
Late last year, Salazar said, Kaur's parents seemed to have had a change of heart. They started joking around with Salazar and even spent Christmas with the newlyweds.
Just as the chaos started settling down, something went very wrong.
On Jan. 13, Kaur, now 34, was arrested and taken to a detention center. She was to be deported in four weeks.
In the time that Kaur immigrated to the U.S., began living with her family, struggled for her independence, moved in with Salazar, divorced and remarried, an important piece of the naturalization process was lost in the jumble.
Kaur and the American -- the stranger -- she wed in Fiji never turned in the paperwork required by the federal government after two years of residency to show that the couple was, indeed, still married.
Although Kaur had, in the meantime, remarried another U.S. citizen, her conditional green card was expired -- she was now illegal.
Not cut out for jail
When the deportation officials came knocking, Salazar said, he and Kaur were in the midst of getting the paperwork in order. As soon as they were married, he said, they found an attorney who told them to file what later turned out to be the wrong documents, further delaying the process.
Then someone alerted the officials -- the couple suspect Kaur's brother, the one she had disobeyed by moving in with Salazar. Kaur has no criminal background, Salazar said.
He describes his wife, with her long brown hair and gentle nature, as a "girlie-girl" who is not cut out for jail.
Kaur, from a Northern California county detention facility, said she stays out of trouble by keeping to herself.
"It is really hard for me because I have never been through a place like I am over here," Kaur said in a phone call in March. She had a heavy accent and pronounced her words carefully, but the weariness in her voice was evident.
"They are mostly criminals and most of them do drugs over here, and I have never done any of that," she continued. "Some of them are nice, but I always try to be careful because they get into fights."
Salazar has seen Kaur only a couple times since the arrest. The last time he saw her, he said, she was weak and trembling from malnutrition. He said Kaur refuses to eat the beef served in jail because it is against her religion.
"She just seems broken to me. I mean, she just seems like she's given up," Salazar said. "(But) if she's given up, then I can't; it means I have to be strong for both of us."
Salazar had found another lawyer who helped suspend Kaur's deportation for a hearing before the immigration court. But a judge canceled the hearing, Kaur was once again ordered out of the country, and the couple was out of money for legal representation.
Kaur can be deported at any time.
A plea for help
In desperation, Salazar set up an account with a local Wells Fargo bank for contributions and is seeking legal counsel -- an attorney willing to work the case pro bono or accept deferred payment -- to help Kaur get out of jail and regain her residency status.
If Kaur is ultimately deported, however, she can return to the U.S. if her husband or family members can prove her departure is causing them "severe hardship," according to Sharon Rummery, a regional spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Although Rummery could not discuss specific cases, she said deported individuals are immediately barred from the country for one to three years -- but exceptions can be made.
"In immigration, there is absolutely nothing that is typical," said Jorge Rodriguez-Choi, the attorney who helped postpone Kaur's deportation. "Everything takes on a life of its own."
If all else fails, Salazar plans to move to Fiji to be with his bride. And Kaur, despite her predicament, said her feelings about her husband have not changed -- he is "someone who can be nice to me, and I can share my life with him."
"I was doing whatever (my family) wanted me to do. ... I was thinking that I have to have my own life, too. How long am I going to stay with them and listen to what they want me to do?" Kaur said.
She continued, "I cry every day and night. I'm tired of my life now. I just want someone who can help take me out of here, so I can go back to my husband."
NW Arkansas Focus : Springdale alien roundup raises questions
BY ADAM WALLWORTH
Posted on Monday, April 13, 2009
Deportation cases against two dozen illegal aliens apprehended in a recent raid at two Springdale houses highlight an inconsistency in how such cases are handled.
The cases also reveal a continuing problem with some business owners who hire aliens but then don't pay them, law enforcement and immigration experts said. That happens frequently because the owners know the illegal workers likely will not report them to authorities, they said.
The Springdale raid occurred after a local immigrant advocate tipped police about the squalid conditions where the workers were living after having been promised money to help lay underground cable. More than 30 people had worked for up to a month but had not been paid, according to a federal affidavit.
Five left the area after not being paid, but 26 others couldn't afford to leave and continued to live in the two small houses on East Allen Street.
When members of the local immigration task force arrived at one of the houses at 9:05 a.m. March 26, they found dozens of mattresses spread on the floors. There was no furniture or food in the house, and the heater was not working. The temperature that morning was 45 degrees, according to the affidavit.
The workers had not eaten for more than two days, Ana Hart, executive director of Just Communities, told police after a lawyer contacted her about the situation.
"Where there would be normally a small living room, dining area, all of that was mattresses. Very few blankets or bedding of any kind," Hart said. "To the right, another small room was the same - bedding, mattresses, no furniture. There were probably 15 to 17 people that called that place home. The situation was very inhumane."
The houses had been rented by Marcio De Oliveira for a total of $800 a month, according to the affidavit. De Oliveira owns Molink Underground Construction Services of Ooltewah, Tenn.
After arresting the 26 workers, police learned that two were in the country legally but that the rest had come from Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico. The two legal workers were released, and removal proceedings were initiated on 20 others. Most have been deported, said Chris Plumlee, assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas.
The other four are being held as material witnesses to testify against De Oliveira, 41, a Brazilian-born legal permanent resident, Plumlee said.
De Oliveira was arrested on charges of harboring illegal aliens. The four material witnesses were deposed last week and soon will be transferred to the custody of Immigration Customs Enforcement to begin removal proceedings, he said.
De Oliveira rented the two houses from Jimani Rentals of Springdale, court records show. A company representative told police the two houses were intended to house a total of 10 people. The water and electric utility accounts were in the names of the two legal workers, Noel Alvarad and Leonel Benavides, according to the affidavit.
De Oliveira told police that Alvarad and Benavides were subcontractors responsible for hiring the rest of the workers, although his contract with Allwire Communications required explicit approval to hire subcontractors. De Oliveira did not have that approval, according to the affidavit. He said he knew the workers didn't have money for food and that he had sent $1,000 for a month of food, court records show.
The employees had been working 13-hour days for up to four weeks, Plumlee said. According to the affidavit, the workers were told they would be paid $100 to $150 per day.
De Oliveira was arrested March 30 by the Immigration Criminal Apprehension task force. He was held for four days and released on $15,000 bond and allowed to return to Tennessee. He has not been charged on the complaints by the workers that he did not pay them, but the investigation is ongoing, Plumlee said.
The deportations of the Springdale workers are a different result than a case in Bellingham, Wash. In a February raid on an engine manufacturing plant, authorities arrested 28 illegal workers. Soon after, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ordered a review of the case, and the workers were given the option of staying in the United States with legal work permits for the duration of the case, or returning home, according to The Associated Press. Two opted to be deported, the report said, with the rest staying in the United States on work visas.
The Springdale workers weren't offered an option to stay, Plumlee said.
Acting U.S. Attorney Debbie Groom said that she was unfamiliar with the Washington case and could not compare it to the case in Springdale.
"Our office makes the criminal prosecutorial decisions, and decisions whether to seek deportation of illegal aliens through the administrative process is a function of Immigration and Customs Enforcement," she said.
An option for the workers could have been a "U visa," said Elizabeth Young, assistant law professor and director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville.
Such a visa allows victims to remain in the country to help prosecute suspects. Keeping illegal aliens in the country can aid prosecutors, Young said, because witnesses testifying in court are given more weight than depositions.
Young said that in larger cities, such as the nation's capital, it is common for police to try to keep illegal aliens in the country to aid their case.
There are cases across the country where people use immigration status to essentially hold people captive, Young said.
The Springdale case is a worst-case example of that, she said.
"Whether they had documentation or not, they were essentially enslaved, it sounds like," she said. "We have laws against that."
NOT A CRIME
Plumlee said prosecutors will be looking at the nonpayment of wages, along with the claims that De Oliveira was providing housing and transportation. The fact that the workers hadn't been paid is a factor to consider in building the case, Plumlee said, but it will not add any criminal charges.
"Not paying is a factor," he said. "But it's really not a crime to not pay employees."
Nonpayment of wages is a civil matter and just one way in which illegal aliens are exploited, Plumlee said. He said they are targeted because they won't go to authorities to file a lawsuit for wages and won't file a claim if they get hurt on the job.
"I think it's kind of a myth in some cases that illegal aliens work for lower wages," Plumlee said. "A lot of times they work for the same wages that citizens do, but in reality are less likely to claim benefits."
Not paying illegal aliens for work is not new to the area, said Rachel Townsend, executive director of the Northwest Arkansas Workers Justice Center.
"This happens in Northwest Arkansas every day, and it's getting worse and worse. We're seeing bigger numbers of people coming in with larger amounts of money owed," Townsend said. "It's a form of human trafficking, but employers don't see it that way."
Officials on the other side of the immigration debate said the original crime of illegally entering the country should not be overlooked.
"I support retention of those needed as material witness, but certainly don't think we need to give them all a green card," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
In cases such as the one against De Oliveira, deportation seems a favorable resolution, Stein said. Those aliens came to the United States, presumably, to improve their situation, and that didn't happen, he said.
"[Those] aliens were brought here under false pretense," Stein said. "They didn't find what they expected when they got here. I would think they would be glad to be back in their home country at the end of this ordeal, where they can apply their skills in a more profitable way."
Stein said too often, people try to separate the crime of being in the country illegally with the ancillary crimes committed. Predatory labor practices, fraud and indentured servitude all occur because people are breaking the law by entering the U.S. illegally, he said.
The Springdale case also is unusual because the criminal investigation began after Hart, a longtime area advocate for members of minority groups and immigrants, asked police for help.
The workers were starving, Hart told authorities. Aside from the immediate need for food, they needed help getting the money owed to them, she said.
Hart said she contacted the workers using a phone number provided by an attorney who the workers had contacted at random. Upset by the conditions in which the workers were living, she began calling everyone she could - including Immigration Customs Enforcement.
"My call was for collaboration so I could get them the help they needed," Hart said. "Whether that is a mistake, I think I'm about to find out."
The situation highlights the dilemma faced by advocates fighting for what they see as a moral right, regardless of whether a person is in the country legally. Often, activists will avoid seeking help directly from law enforcement. Instead they will work with churches or other nongovernment agencies to help.
Townsend said her staff will not call authorities unless the worker asks them to do so because the worker often is deported before any action can be taken.
"We know that if we contact ICE, the person who's going to get punished is not the subcontractor. It's not the person that's not paying them," Townsend said.
"We're not punishing the people for not paying the employees. When you call in ICE, the subcontractor actually gets the benefit of undocumented labor for free, or close to free, and getting away scot free. There's not justice in that."
Hart, praised by fellow activists and local and federal law enforcement for her work with immigrants, said the Springdale case was dire, requiring her to contact police.
After learning that her name was included in the federal affidavit, Hart declined further comment.
Springdale Police Chief Kathy O'Kelley also was hesitant to discuss the case, but did express support for Hart, who she considers an asset to the community.
O'Kelley said she respects the work of such activists who are trying to help a segment of the population that is difficult to reach.
"I think those people are being used as slave labor. On a humanitarian level, we need to go in and help them," O'Kelley said.
O'Kelley said there are many more people in situations similar to the Allen Street workers. The challenge for anyone trying to help, she said, is forming a relationship.
"Our interest truly is ensuring these people are not being taken advantage of," the police chief said.
O'Kelley remains hopeful that victims of crimes as serious as human trafficking, slave labor and exploiting illegal workers for personal gain will come forward so the perpetrators can be held responsible. The task force, in which local officers receive federal training on immigration enforcement, was created to investigate crimes such as these, she said.
Whether O'Kelley agrees with the arrests of the Allen Street workers is not something she was willing to go on record about.
"[The] issue is something beyond my pay grade," O'Kelley said. "That's a federal task force issue, and I'm local law enforcement."
Plumlee said he experienced the difficulty of gaining the trust of illegal immigrants in his previous job with the Benton County prosecuting attorney's office. He said he's worked on homicide cases where witnesses would not come forward for fear of being deported.
"If it gets to the point you think it's life and death, you've got no choice but to call the police or ICE. If you call the police, they're going to call ICE," Plumlee said. "It's better for them to be deported and alive and healthy than for them to be here suffering."
Groom said Friday that she will ask a judge to remove Hart's name from the affidavit, acknowledging a concern that Hart's contact may affect the willingness of people to speak with her office. However, the affidavit has been available publicly since March 30.
Jim Miranda, a local Hispanic rights activist, said he has worked with Hart for several years and that he is sure she was only trying to help. He's glad the government is prosecuting De Oliveira, but said it is unfortunate that immigration officers were so quick to deport the workers.
"I'm not that suspicious to think ICE is trying to be malicious," Miranda said. "It's just this mindset of enforcing the law at all costs." Miranda said such action reinforces the fear of law enforcement. "Something like this sends ripples through the community," he said. "Those people living in the shadows - those people end up being silent and they don't speak out."
Sunday, April 12, 2009
‘Immigration fugitives’ captured
By MARK NEWMAN Courier staff writer
Published April 11, 2009 12:03 am
OTTUMWA — An ongoing federal initiative to capture “immigration fugitives” has resulted in several arrests locally.
“We understand that some people were taken into custody by ICE,” said Lt. Tom McAndrew of the Ottumwa Police Department. “We’re referring all questions to [Immigration and Customs Enforcement].”
“ICE was in the Ottumwa area earlier this week,” confirmed Gail Montenegro, a U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement spokesperson. “We made a total of eight arrests Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the Ottumwa and Oskaloosa areas during an operation which targets immigration fugitives.”
Montenegro said the agency is unable to provide specifics on the case or the suspects. But when asked about nationalities, she was able to name the country of origin for all captured individuals: El Salvador, Guatemala, Mali (Africa), Mauritania (Africa), Mexico and Peru.
“An immigration fugitive is an individual who has had due process, been through the court proceedings... was ordered to depart the United States by an immigration judge, and did not leave the U.S. in defiance of the judge’s order. We are out looking for specific individuals.”
Like any law enforcement agency, ICE has a large area to cover and only a certain number of agents. But finding immigration fugitives is one of the agency’s priorities, she said.
When asked about future fugitve-enforcement operations in Iowa or this part of the state, Montenegro referred to the effort as “an ongoing initiative.”
Multi-agency sweep nets 25 arrests
Posted by Shannon Fears at April 11, 2009 9:14 p.m.
Approximately 40 officers from both local and federal agencies took part Saturday in what was called a "gang emphasis sweep" in South King County, with a resulting 25 arrests, most for drug possession or outstanding warrants, the Kent Police announced.
Agencies that participated were the King County Sheriff’s Office; police departments from the cities of Des Moines, Federal Way, Seattle, Kent, Renton, Auburn, Algona and Pacific; Port of Seattle police; the Washington State Department of Corrections; and the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Officers "focused on known gang members with outstanding warrants and those on active DOC supervision. Police informants were also utilized to make street purchases of narcotics," the Kent announcement said.
Of the 25 arrests, nine were on narcotics violations, 10 on outstanding warrants, five on immigration violations and one on a Department of Corrections violation.
"The cooperation and coordination by local and federal law enforcement to proactively address criminal gang activity in South King County is helping to make our communities safe," Lt. Ken Thomas of the Kent Police Department said in the announcement. "There are plans for additional emphasis patrols in the future."
Friday, April 10, 2009
ICE takes 20 people to jail after I-80 stop
By LEE HERMISTON • Iowa City Press-Citizen • April 10, 2009
Iowa City, Ia. - Officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement apprehended 20 people Thursday after a routine traffic stop on Interstate Highway 80.
Tim Counts, ICE spokesman for the five-state jurisdiction that includes Iowa, said little information was available about the alleged illegal immigrants.
At 9:10 a.m., a Coralville officer pulled over a white Ford Econoline van for going 15 mph over the 55 mph limit at the 241 mile marker on I-80, Coralville Police Lt. Shane Kron said. The van stopped at the 244-mile marker near the Dubuque Street exit in Iowa City.
Kron said the officer spoke with the driver, but the driver's answers weren't adding up, and the officer grew suspicious. Kron said the windows of the van were blacked out. Kron said the officer called Iowa City police to request their narcotics dog.
While the dog was en route, the driver of the van admitted there were 11 people in the back of the van. However, when the officer ordered all of the people out, 20 men and women emerged, including the driver.
The officer was suspicious and called officers from the ICE Cedar Rapids office, Kron said. About 25 minutes later, the ICE officers arrived and took the group of people, Kron said.
Counts said the group was transferred to temporary holding rooms at the ICE Cedar Rapids office. He said those being held would be transferred to a local jail to stay overnight.
Because the group was arrested on administrative charges for being in the country illegally, rather than criminal charges, their names would not be released, Counts said. He said interviews were being conducted.
Police Arrest Man at Goleta Home
Bystander Also Taken Into Custody for Obstructing Officers
The Sheriff’s Department announced on Thursday that deputies arrested a convicted felon who had been previously deported twice.
According to a statement on the matter from Sheriff’s spokesperson Drew Sugars, officers had been tipped off in early March that a man — Martin Perez, 35, allegedly an armed and dangerous gang member who has previously been convicted of possession a controlled substance and possession stolen property — had been residing at a home on the 7000 block of Del Norte Drive in Goleta. Around 6 a.m. on Wednesday, April 8, officers arrived at the residence and searched the home. Despite residents allegedly telling officers that Perez was not there, Perez was found him hiding beneath a futon. He was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
In the process of arresting Perez, a 34-year-old woman living at the home became physically combative with law enforcement there, Sugars noted. When officers told her she would be arrested for obstruction, she allegedly ran to the kitchen and threatened to stab herself in the stomach with a 6- to 8-inch knife, but deputies convinced her to drop the knife. The woman was arrested on charges of obstructing an officer and exhibiting a deadly weapon with the intention of to resist or prevent arrest.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Border Patrol Agents Work With DPS Troopers To Arrest 28 Illegal Aliens
Updated: April 8, 2009 05:17 PM
LAREDO (AP) - Laredo Sector Border Patrol Agents and DPS troopers worked together to apprehend 28 illegal aliens Tuesday night.
The case began when agents working at the checkpoint located on Interstate Highway 35 north of Laredo performed an immigration inspection of the driver of a tractor-trailer. The agents decided to make a secondary inspection of the vehicle and instructed the driver to move the truck to the inspection area. Instead of following directions, the driver bypassed the inspection area and headed north on Interstate-35.
Agents pursued the truck and attempted to stop it but the driver refused to pull over. When the truck reached mile marker 40, DPS troopers took over the pursuit. Near mile marker 49, troopers deployed spike strips that deflated the truck's two front tires, prompting the driver to eventually stop the vehicle.
After the driver was arrested, agents and troopers searched the truck and found 28 undocumented aliens in the trailer.
The driver and the aliens were turned over Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
U.S. citizens caught up in immigration sweeps
The detentions, which in some cases have nearly led to the deportation of citizens or legal residents, are drawing increased attention.
By Andrew Becker and Patrick J. McDonnell
April 9, 2009
Reporting from Tacoma, Wash., and Los Angeles -- Rennison Vern Castillo thought his legal troubles were nearly over at the end of a jail stay for harassing his ex-girlfriend. But then a U.S. immigration hold order blocked his release.
"They think you're here illegally," a jailhouse guard said to him.
Castillo, mystified, insisted it was all a mistake. Though born in Belize, he had come of age in South Los Angeles, spoke fluent English, served a stint in the Army and had become an American citizen about seven years earlier.
He had some legal problems, but being in the country unlawfully was not one of them. Castillo said he wasn't worried -- not until he was shackled and transferred to a federal detention center. He spent months in custody before an appeals panel blocked his deportation and an immigration judge finally ordered Castillo set free.
Although his case is an extreme example, mistaken detentions are drawing increased attention as immigration officials mount workplace roundups and jailhouse sweeps in search of undocumented immigrants.
Immigration raids of factories and other work sites often result in at least a short-term detention of lawful residents and even citizens, as agents seal targeted businesses and grill workers about their status.
Officials in Washington said last month that the Obama administration was expected to rein in the controversial workplace raids -- shifting enforcement emphasis to target employers rather than workers. Immigrant advocates have long pushed for such a change, while others say easing workplace enforcement will encourage illegal immigration.
Castillo is one of many citizens and legal residents held for suspected immigration violations -- some for a few hours, some for much longer. No agency tracks such incidents, so statistical totals are not available.
Officials at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement downplay the problem.
"ICE does not detain United States citizens," said spokesman Richard Rocha, adding that agents thoroughly investigated people's claims of citizenship. "ICE only processes an individual for removal when all available facts indicate that the person is an alien."
He declined to comment on Castillo's case or others, citing privacy concerns or pending lawsuits.
The surge in ICE workplace actions during the Bush administration spawned fierce complaints from employees caught up in dragnets at factories, slaughterhouses and poultry farms.
Mike Graves, a two-decade veteran of the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant in Marshalltown, Iowa, said he was handcuffed and held for eight hours in December 2006 when ICE agents raided Swift plants throughout the heartland.
"My government treated me like a criminal, and I didn't do anything wrong," said Graves, a native of Iowa.
An ICE raid last year at a Van Nuys printer cartridge manufacturer, Micro Solutions Enterprises, generated wrongful-arrest claims from more than 100 citizens, said Peter Schey, chief lawyer at the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law in Los Angeles. All were held for two to three hours before being released, Schey said.
Americans seldom carry proof of their legal status, which can be a factor in the confusion about detainees' citizenship. There is no comprehensive database or list of all citizens for agents to check.
Official investigations may miss crucial documents such as birth certificates and naturalization papers. In some cases, names have been jumbled or misfiled and records lost. Confused detainees have signed their own removal orders. Some in custody may even be unaware of their citizenship or unable to prove it without a lawyer's help.
Unlike suspects in criminal matters, however, immigration detainees have no right to government-appointed counsel -- and, in some cases, have no access to paid lawyers. Fast-track deportation procedures enacted by Congress in recent years also limit court review once the expulsion process is underway.
In border regions like Southern California, residents on both sides of the international boundary have for generations moved back and forth without regard for passports, status or birth certificates. Many U.S. citizens by birth or parentage have no proof of their status.
Frank Ponce de Leon, a native of Mexico who lives in La Puente, got out of ICE custody Dec. 31 after spending almost three months locked up -- all the while insisting he was a citizen. The longtime California resident had never sought citizenship because he was the son of an American-born parent. His father was a New Mexico native and U.S. serviceman during World War II.
"I knew they couldn't hold me forever, and sooner or later they would see it my way because I had every right," said Ponce de Leon, 47, whose five California-born children include a daughter, Deanne, 22, who served in Iraq as an Army nurse.
On occasion, the uncertainty can lead to mistaken deportation, as was the case with Pedro Guzman, a mentally disabled U.S. citizen living in Lancaster.
U.S. immigration officials shipped Guzman to Tijuana in May 2007 from the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles, where he was being held on a misdemeanor trespassing charge. The Los Angeles native, then 29, spent three months rummaging for food in dumps and sleeping in the Mexican borderlands as his desperate mother, a fast-food cook, searched for him in hospitals, shelters, jails and morgues, his family said.
Eventually Guzman, a cement finisher with limited Spanish and a second-grade reading ability, was reunited with his family in the border town of Calexico.
The Guzman case sparked Washington hearings at which immigration authorities were chastised by Congress members and accused of "stunning incompetence." ICE officials called the case an aberration and vowed to review all citizenship claims before anyone was detained or deported.
Out of more than 1 million detentions, ICE officials say, Guzman was the only citizen known to have been shipped out of the country. But others dispute that claim.
Rachel E. Rosenbloom, supervising attorney at Boston College's Post-Deportation Human Rights Project, cited at least eight cases of wrongly deported citizens and said she expected the number was substantially higher.
One such case, detailed in an upcoming report by Rosenbloom's group, is the curious saga of Duarnis Perez. He is a native of the Dominican Republic who became a U.S. citizen at 15 when his mother was naturalized. But he didn't know citizenship had been conferred on him as well. He assumed he was illegal, and so did everyone else.
Perez was deported and subsequently arrested trying to sneak back into the United States from Canada. He spent almost five years in prison for unlawful reentry. It was only upon his release in 2004 that an ICE official reviewed his file and informed Perez that he had been a citizen all along.
In Castillo's case, he was an infant when his mother left Belize and sought work in Los Angeles. She later became a nurse and sent for her son. Castillo attended elementary school in South L.A. and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1996. He became a naturalized citizen in 1998. He joined the Army and served in Korea, then was posted to Ft. Lewis, Wash. He was honorably discharged in 2003.
After domestic disputes with a girlfriend, he was convicted in 2005 of felony harassment and violating a no-contact order, and was sent to Pierce County Jail in Washington state for eight months. He was in a holding area with inmates about to be released when a corrections officer held him back.
Castillo was handcuffed and whisked off in a van to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. A federal officer said records showed he was an illegal immigrant.
"Your records are wrong," Castillo said he replied. He said he told the officer that he was a citizen but that his naturalization certificate had never arrived. It was sent to the wrong address, he later learned.
Castillo went before an immigration judge, who appeared via video conference, a common procedure in the crowded immigration court system. Again, he claimed citizenship. The judge didn't believe him. He was ordered deported on Jan. 24, 2006.
The nonprofit Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, a legal advocacy center based in Seattle, provided a lawyer to handle Castillo's appeal. The lawyer searched for Castillo's naturalization documents and records of his military service.
The Board of Immigration Appeals blocked Castillo's deportation, noting proof of his military service. A month later, he was released without further explanation. It turned out Castillo was the victim of a paperwork mix-up: His name was spelled wrong in immigration records. And he had been assigned more than one "alien number," causing further confusion.
Castillo, now 31, is still incredulous.
"If it had taken 30 days to figure it out, I wouldn't be upset. But seven months?" he said in an interview.
He, like Guzman and others with similar experiences, has filed suit against the ICE.
"I want them to recognize they made a mistake," Castillo said. "Something needs to change. If it can happen to me, it's going to happen to someone else."