Reprieve: Illegal resident to spend holidays with family
Friday, December 03, 2010
By Carmen Cusido
EWING -- After facing separation from his family prior to Christmas, Guatemalan-born Ramon Gonzalez-Solares, an illegal resident of the United States who has been ordered to leave the country, will celebrate the holiday with his family after all.
He had previously been ordered to surrender to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials yesterday to be incarcerated until his flight out of the country. His attorney said yesterday the decision by ICE to grant him extra time with his family over the holidays was a surprise.
"I really didn't expect it," said Stephen Traylor of Princeton Borough, Gonzalez-Solares' attorney.
Gonzalez-Solares, 45, of Ewing, will instead be asked to report to the ICE office in Marlton on Jan. 14, and will be detained until he is sent back to Guatemala,
Gonzalez-Solares has lived in this country for 25 years, raised two U.S.-born children and established himself as a cook in a Princeton-area restaurant.
He was taken into custody by immigration officials in July. He was given a rare 90-day reprieve in August, after originally being scheduled to be deported to Guatemala then. In August, his deportation was again delayed.
This week, Traylor submitted a psychological report to ICE explaining that Gonzalez-Solares' domestic partner and two sons -- ages 18 and 13 -- were not doing well as a result of his pending deportation. The older son's grades have been slipping to the point that the high school senior may not graduate this year, Traylor said.
In an e-mail message sent to The Times, ICE spokesman Harold Ort said, "Mr. Gonzalez requested an extension of the stay of removal through his attorney in order to spend the holidays with his family. ICE granted this request. ICE plans to enforce Mr. Gonzalez's removal order."
Gonzalez-Solares could not be reached for comment yesterday, but he said after reporting to the Marlton office in November that he would leave if there was no other option for him to stay in this country.
Maria Juega, co-founder of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which has advocated on Gonzalez-Solares' behalf, said her organization will submit a petition with more than 100 hundred signatures to ICE.
Juega said LALDEF also will "continue to advocate for his indefinite release and deferred action on his deportation. His case is one of so many other senseless stories of families traumatized and torn apart for no good reason. This time, common sense and compassion prevailed but the immigration authorities should simply not pursue these cases," Juega said.
Traylor said he was grateful to ICE for their consideration. In the next week or so, Traylor will take additional legal measures in hopes of preventing Gonzalez-Solares' deportation.
Once an illegal immigrant reports to ICE, the average stay in detention before being sent to their home country is 32 days, Ort said.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Reprieve: Illegal resident to spend holidays with family
Traffic Stop Turns Into Human Smuggling Investigation
Posted: 10:23 PM Dec 2, 2010
Updated: 6:29 AM Dec 3, 2010
Colorado State Patrol says a traffic stop in a construction zone just north of Trinidad on Thursday has landed one person in jail, and nine others in trouble with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Authorities say they stopped a 2001 Honda Odyssey mid-morning on Thursday, as it was allegedly speeding through a construction zone at about mile marker 13, on I-25.
Troopers suspected a human smuggling operation might be going on, as nine of the individuals in the van were undocumented immigrants, apparently from a number of areas including Mexico and Guatemala.
No names have yet been released in the case, but authorities say charges are pending for the man that was behind the wheel of the van.
Stay with 11 News as more details are released about this investigation.
Phoenix Drop House Holds 11 Child Hostages
Tip From Mother Of 3 Victims Leads To Human Smuggling Find
Sarah Buduson, CBS 5 News
POSTED: 7:22 pm MST December 2, 2010
UPDATED: 12:09 pm MST December 3, 2010
PHOENIX -- Phoenix police rescued 11 children, ranging in age from 2 to 15, who were being held hostage at a Phoenix drop house Thursday afternoon.
Sgt. Steven Martos of Phoenix police said the FBI received a tip about the drop house at 6441 S. 7th Ave. from the mother of three of the victims.
He said the mother, who lives in El Salvador, claimed her daughters had been kidnapped.
The woman said the human smugglers were threatening to rape the girls, who are 12, 14, and 15, if she did not send money, according to Martos.
Martos said officers located the woman's daughters and eight other children when they arrived at the home.
It was unknown if they were sexually assaulted or if any of the other children were hurt.
Martos said the children "seemed OK."
He said officers discovered the woman's daughters were not kidnapped and that the girls and other children were all smuggled into the United States without their parents.
Police arrested two men and one woman in connection with the drop house.
Martos said one of the men is an illegal immigrant working as a guard at the house to pay off his debt to the smugglers.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Two arrested on I-91; police say they're in the country illegally
Updated Dec. 2, 8:40 p.m.
By SENTINEL STAFF
Published: Thursday, December 02, 2010
BRATTLEBORO — Two people from Peru in the country illegally were detained after the car they were riding in was stopped on Interstate 91 in Brattleboro Thursday morning, Vermont State Police said.
Javier Cruz-Quispe, 36, and Darwin Quispe-Cruz, 34, both of Queens, N.Y., were taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents, according to a State Police news release.
State Police were monitoring traffic near Exit 3 when they stopped a northbound car for speeding, according to the news release. Police said they discovered the two passengers had previously been detained by immigration officials, but had failed to appear for their deportation hearings. They were found to be in the country illegally and were taken to the State Police barracks in Brattleboro and turned over to border patrol agents.
The driver of the car was ticketed for speeding and issued a warning for failure to keep right on the interstate.
SF students race to save their peer who faces deportation to Peru
Posted on 02 December 2010
Vol 29 No 49 | December 4 - December 10
By Rupa Dev
New America Media
More than 80 students and community members gathered outside California Sen. Barbara Boxer’s office on Nov. 12 to protest the scheduled deportation of Steve Li, a 20-year-old nursing student, on Nov. 15.
Li, a student at San Francisco City College, is currently being detained in an immigration jail in Arizona, where he faces deportation to Peru. Ethnically Chinese, Li was born in Peru but has lived in San Francisco for the past eight years. He and his family were arrested during an immigration raid at their home.
Supporters gathered together late morning and stayed there all day making phone calls to the offices of Sen. Boxer, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, asking them to intercede on Li’s behalf. Li’s supporters urged the lawmakers to pass the DREAM Act, saying Li’s plight underscores the importance of legislation that would give undocumented students a path to citizenship.
Despite their efforts, they said they feared Li would be deported on Monday, according to confidential information obtained by his lawyers. Tense-faced supporters nervously clenched their phones, as they made repeated calls to the lawmakers’ offices, racing against the clock to make a difference in Li’s case.
“The last few weeks have come out of nowhere,” said Jonathon Jaranilla, 20, a City College student. “We’ve been doing everything we can, but time is a problem.”
Sin Yen Ling, Li’s attorney and lead counsel for the San Francisco-based Asian Law Caucus, said all Boxer needs to do is say that she wants to issue a private bill or pick up the phone and call ICE on Li’s behalf.
“As someone who has received the support of the Asian American community, it should not be a hard task for her to do,” Ling said.
Calls to Boxer’s office were directed to voicemail, due to the high call volume, according to a phone message. The senator’s office did not return New America Media’s calls seeking comment on Li’s case.
“We’ve made over 1,000 calls,” said Daniel Tay, 21, a nursing student at City College who emigrated from Peru two years ago.
“We are trying to stop the deportation by calling the politicians’ offices,” said Kevin Shue, 20, a City College student, who has known Li since they were in high school.
“I’m glad so many people are trying to impact the decisions, but it’s frustrating to feel like the decision is out of our hands,” Shue added.
Li’s situation is somewhat unusual. Li was arrested with his mother, Maria, on Sept. 15 by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He was born in Peru, where his parents, who are Chinese nationals, fled to from China. Li came to the United States with his parents on a tourist visa in 2002. After their visas expired, the family applied for political asylum to remain in the United States. However, their application was denied.
Li has not lived in Peru since he was 12 years old.
Maria, Li’s mother, was bailed out after a three-week detention while her son was transferred to an ICE detention center in Arizona. They have communicated only through sparse phone calls over the past few weeks. Li’s parents were released from Sacramento County Jail and are awaiting deportation to China.
Li would be deported to Peru because he was born there.
According to Li’s Asian American Studies professor Sang Chi, when asked directly about Li’s deportation case, ICE Director John Morton said “dreamers” are at the bottom of the priority list in terms of detainees.
“So why are they nabbing highly motivated students? Why has Steve been in jail for the past 60 days?” Chi asked.
The Board of Trustees for City College and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors denounced Li’s deportation and called on ICE to postpone his deportation. They also urged Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which, if passed, would grant undocumented immigrant children citizenship if they entered the country before age 15 and are attending college.
Over the past few weeks, students and Li’s peers have raced against the clock to mobilize a movement to halt his deportation.
More than 2,000 students at City College signed petition cards for Boxer and Feinstein to intervene on Li’s behalf. About 7,000 people have joined the Facebook group in solidarity with Li. Feinstein has authored private bills for undocumented students in the past.
Professor Chi says that students have done “a lot of the heavy lifting” to campaign for Li.
“Students of all colors and backgrounds have been here from the beginning,” he said.
Ike Iloka, 24, a mentor for the Summer Science Institute at San Francisco State University that Li participated in, said Li’s situation completely changed his viewpoint on immigration.
“I used to think undocumented immigrants were coming over the border and stealing our jobs, but I understand that there are people with families, friends, and communities here.”
On Nov. 19, Feinstein introduced a private bill to delay Li’s deportation. On Nov. 20, Li was freed. However, unless his bill passes, is reintroduced, or the Dream Act passes this month, Li’s stay in San Francisco is guaranteed for only 75 days after the end of this congressional session.
City, County Sued For Mistaken Arrest
Joscelyn Moes | Reporter
Posted: 5:31 pm EST December 2, 2010
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -- A local man said he was locked up for three days on an immigration detainer, even though he is a U.S. citizen.
Now, the American Civil Liberties Union is suing on behalf of Ernesto Galarza, saying the city of Allentown, Lehigh County, and federal officials violated the man's civil rights.
"We have to find a way to protect American citizens from being wrongfully jailed by the immigration authorities," said attorney David Vaida.
Vaida brought Galarza's case to the attention of the ACLU, which said Galarza, 36, was locked up in Lehigh County Prison for three days on an immigration detainer, even though Galarza was born in New Jersey and is a U.S. citizen of Puerto Rican decent.
"There's no way, by looking at someone, to know whether or not they're American citizens," said Vaida.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit on Galarza's behalf in federal court in Allentown on November 19.
"We need to be very careful not to be so aggressive in enforcing immigration laws so that we violate people's rights the way that Mr. Galarza's were violated," said ACLU spokesperson Valerie Burch.
The ACLU said Allentown police mistakenly picked up Galarza during a drug sweep on November 20, 2008. He was later acquitted of the charges.
The ACLU said police targeted Galarza's boss, a construction contractor from the Dominican Republic.
According to the lawsuit, Galarza posted bail the next day, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed him on a detainer.
ICE claimed he was from the Dominican Republic and in the U.S. illegally.
The ACLU said Galarza's Social Security card and Pennsylvania driver's license were in his wallet the whole time.
According to the lawsuit, Galarza was not told why he was being held for nearly three days.
"I was born in New Jersey and I'm a proud American," Galarza said in a statement. "This isn't how Americans should be treated. It's like getting slapped in the face."
Meantime, ICE and the solicitor for Lehigh County have not returned our phone calls seeking comment.
The Allentown solicitor said, "The city received the lawsuit late yesterday [Wednesday] and it's being reviewed."
Ecuadoran is 1st to face deportation in wake of 2007 ICE raid in New Haven
By Mary E. O’Leary
Register Topics Editor
Published: Thursday, December 02, 2010
NEW HAVEN — Washington Colala, 44, is facing his last weekend in the United States and leaving behind a 10-year-old daughter, unless immigration officials allow him to stay to see through a civil rights challenge to his deportation.
His attorneys at the Jerome Frank Legal Service Organization at the Yale Law School are appealing to John Morton, the director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to use his discretion to put off Colala’s removal Monday — at least until he can testify.
The appeal addresses both Colala’s specific situation and what the attorneys see is a general problem of ICE deporting individuals in the midst of civil rights claims involving warrantless search and seizure.
"ICE is moving to remove ... people out of the country as their credible civil rights claims are pending and thereby officials seek to avoid liability for potentially very serious constititional violations," said lawyer intern Mark Pedulla.
Colala, formerly a teacher in Ecuador, is an illegal immigrant who has been doing construction work in the U.S. for 15 years, sending money home to his wife and three other children.
He was one 32 people picked up over three days in early June 2007 by ICE agents, mainly in New Haven, and the first that ICE is deporting after removal procedures played out in his case.
Colala is also part of the civil rights case filed last year by 11 of the men picked up in Fair Haven without warrants on the first day of that raid; a constitutional challenge is before U.S. District Court Judge Stefan Underhill in Bridgeport.
Immigration Judge Michael Straus in Hartford has already ruled in the case of five of the immigrants arrested in 2007, including Colala’s housemate, that the actions of the ICE agents showed an "egregious" disregard for their constitutional rights, and he suppressed any evidence against them. Straus’ decision on the housemate was based on Colala’s testimony.
Straus failed to suppress the evidence against 10 others, but the Bureau of Immigration Appeals has returned seven of those cases to Straus, ruling he had acted in error, while three others are pending.
LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the National Council of La Raza are also sending letters to Morton challenging ICE’s actions.
"What other law enforcement agency has the power — to use the collegial term — to get rid of the evidence and to keep a legitimate civil rights issue from proceeding?" said Foster Maer, senior litigation counsel for LatinoJustice, formerly the Puerto Rican Defense and Education Foundation.
Ross Feinstein, spokesman for ICE in New England, did not return a call seeking comment.
Colala, who had left his home early on the morning of the June 6, 2007, raid, returned to retrieve something he had forgotten and testified that he was confronted by ICE agents, who without benefit of a warrant, forced him, at gunpoint, to open the door to his apartment. He said he was handcuffed and not told the men were ICE agents until they were there for half an hour.
"It was quite humiliating," Colala said Thursday, as his lawyers translated for him.
Unlike almost half of the 32 immigrants picked up — 29 in New Haven and three in North Haven — Colala did not use the law school lawyers to separately fight removal proceedings.
Rather than invoking constitutional challenges to the raid, his attorney pursued a more traditional appeal, called cancellation of removal, which allows some illegal immigrants with U.S. citizen children to stay.
Few, however, qualify under this rubric and a three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals said it did not have jurisdiction to overturn the ICE deportation order against Colala, although his lawyers are seeking a ruling from the full panel.
Since he got the ICE order Sept. 15, Colala said it has been "quite difficult both for me and also because it involves my family. ... They depend 100 percent on me."
As he waits out a fast closing legal limbo, Colala said, "It is a little bit like a time bomb. Each moment in each day is a little bit more desperate."
Law student Rebecca Scholtz said once Colala returns to Pastaza, Ecuador, he will not be able to participate effectively in the case long distance for lack of adequate telecommunications.
Colala wants the opportunity to be vindicated in the lawsuit, but even if the court finds his rights were violated, he will still be deported.
"It’s a classic legal technicality. Establishing a constitutional violation won’t cure an administrative finding," said Muneer Ahmad, clinical professor and supervisor at the law clinic.
Asked at a press conference Thursday why he wants to pursue the case, Colala said: "After an experience such as this, I felt the need to be a spokesperson for other people who have had their rights violated and felt the need to fight for my rights."
He praised the law school lawyers and the Rev. James Manship at St. Rosa Church for helping the immigrants.
Colala was asked how he would respond to those who feel he broke the law and is now paying for it. He said he came to make a better life for his children.
"What I feel ... is that immigration in this country doesn’t understand humanity, the human side of this issue. That they don’t analyze the situation and the problems of each person. It is almost like they didn’t have a family themselves," he said.
27 accused of falsely using IDs to get jobs
Workers in country illegally, federal officials say.
By Steven Kreytak
Published: 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010
More than two dozen Pflugerville nursing home workers have been accused of misusing Social Security numbers to obtain employment in one of the biggest immigration-related workplace busts in Central Texas in recent years.
The arrests last month were prompted by a unique set of circumstances and do not appear to signal a more aggressive federal attack on local workers who are in the country illegally.
In all, 27 people stand charged in U.S. District Court in Austin, including five who have not yet been arrested, said Antonio Puente, a special agent with the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General, which spearheaded the investigation.
Puente testified about the case during a bail hearing Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andy Austin regarding four of the defendants, all of them Mexican citizens whose lawyers downplayed the charges.
Austin said that after deciding on conditions designed to ensure their return to court, he would order the defendants released from federal custody this morning pending trial. Immigration authorities could still ask an immigration judge to keep them in jail. Except for one defendant facing more serious charges in the county jail, the others are in jail and scheduled for bail hearings before Austin today and Friday.
Each defendant arrested in the case faces a charge of misuse of a Social Security number, a federal felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Some face additional charges with the same possible sentence. Defense lawyers and prosecutor Ashley Hoff agreed during Wednesday's hearing that the defendants would probably receive a few months in prison or probation.
The inquiry began in October when, according to a police affidavit, a female patient at the Pflugerville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center told Pflugerville police that 38-year-old nurse's aide Mario Rojas Lara had sexually assaulted her weeks earlier.
Assistant Police Chief Jim McLean said that while trying to verify Lara's identity, police determined that he had used someone else's Social Security number and a fraudulent permanent resident card. Lara also was charged with forgery. His case is set for this month.
Later, McLean said, lawyers for the nursing home and rehabilitation center took it upon themselves to check the records of other employees and determined that there might be problems with some of the identifications the employees submitted.
McLean said because Pflugerville police do not investigate immigration crimes and do not have access to federal Social Security databases, he forwarded to Puente the list of employees the nursing home suspected had misrepresented themselves.
In his testimony Wednesday, Puente said that out of the 44 names the nursing home officials handed over, 28 were found to have misused Social Security numbers. The case against one of those people has been dismissed, he said.
Some of those Social Security numbers belonged to people who are dead, others belonged to children, and some were made up, Puente said.
Seventeen of the people used the numbers to obtain Texas certification to work as nurses aides, Puente said.
He said that aspect of the case persuaded him to pursue the investigation. "It's a health care facility with what I would consider a very vulnerable part of our society," he said.
"I was concerned about that."
Assistant federal public defenders Horatio Aldredge and Bill Ibbotson noted that with the exception of Lara, none of the defendants has a significant criminal history, and there was no indication of any problems with their work. One defendant, Elsa Gutierrez, was named employee of the month at the facility last year.
There are at least two mother-son pairs among those arrested, including Junior Bravo Reyes and his mother, Martha Reyes. Junior Bravo Reyes is a recent graduate of Georgetown High School, Ibbotson said.
Arrests of illegal workers at local employers are rare. In 2006, 34 immigrants were arrested at a Hutto pallet factory — part of a nationwide raid on a Houston company's plants.
Three were charged with illegal re-entry after a previous deportation. The rest were deported without charges.
Reputed Colombo wiseguy could be deported for concealing crimes on immigration application (NY Daily News)
Reputed Colombo wiseguy could be deported for concealing crimes on immigration application
BY JOHN MARZULLI
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Thursday, December 2nd 2010, 4:00 AM
A reputed Colombo soldier pleaded guilty Tuesady to concealing a slew of crimes - including disposing of a murder victim whacked in his Brooklyn home - on his immigration application.
Sebastiano (Sebby) Saracino, 43, could face deportation to Italy as a consequence of the guilty plea in Brooklyn Federal Court.
Saracino applied for citizenship in 2002, saying in a sworn statement that he had never committed a crime for which he had not been arrested, and that he was not a member of any "organization" or "society."
He never followed through with providing his fingerprints, so the application was dormant for years.
The feds dug it up after Colombo family informants began spilling the beans about crimes that Saracino had gotten away with.
In 1995, mob associate Richard Greaves was fatally shot in Saracino's basement and transported in Saracino's Jeep Wrangler to an industrial park in Long Island, where the corpse was buried in a freshly dug grave, according to court papers.
Also in the mid-1990s, Saracino was part of a team that attempted to burglarize a bank on Long Island.
The diminutive gangster hid inside a makeshift wall constructed around the night deposit box.
Saracino was not required to confess to a particular crime, but told Federal Judge Brian Cogan yesterday that he had torched a building that he owned in Coney Island.
Sources told the FBI that Saracino was inducted into the Colombo family in 2004. His younger brother, Dino, also is a wiseguy and is awaiting trial for racketeering and murder.
Saracino faces up to 14 months in prison at his sentencing.
Undocumented workers are culled in audit
Union for nearly 50 at tanning plant protesting the action
By Julie Forster
Updated: 12/01/2010 09:49:38 PM CST
Nearly 50 workers in South St. Paul lost their jobs Wednesday as a result of stepped-up workplace audits by the federal government trying to ferret out undocumented workers.
The union that represents the workers, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189, is protesting the Department of Homeland Security's enforcement strategy, saying the federal government is going after well-paid, taxpaying meatpackers, janitors and factory workers instead of targeting criminals and "bad actor" employers. Wednesday was the last day of work for those who process hides for Twin City Hide who could not provide documentation of their legal status to work.
Another union, Service Employees International Unions Local 26, which represented 1,200 janitorial workers in the Twin Cities who lost their jobs about a year ago as a result of audits carried out by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, also spoke out against the audits.
According to the SEIU, more than 50 workers, or 40 percent of the work force at Twin City Tanning, next to Twin City Hide, lost their jobs at the end of October following the same type of audit. Those workers belonged to Workers United, a union affiliated with SEIU.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency declined to comment on the audits of South St. Paul businesses, saying in a statement that, "Inspections are one of the most powerful tools the federal government has to ensure that businesses are complying with U.S. employment laws."
Twin City Hide declined to answer questions but issued a statement saying the company strives to comply with federal law and that it sympathizes with the workers who have lost their jobs.
"Many of these workers were long-time loyal employees of our company who worked hard for their families. We are saddened that they are now in this position. We'd like nothing more than for Congress to reform our country's immigration laws so that this kind of thing doesn't continue to happen," the company said.
Most of the workers who lost their jobs are Mexican nationals who at one time had work visas that have since expired. The workers had jobs that paid $12 to $14 per hour, health insurance and a 401(k) plan.
Don Seaquist, president of UFCW Local 1189, said enforcement without immigration reform pushes undocumented workers deeper into the shadows, benefiting unscrupulous off-the-books employers. The government is targeting the wrong people, Seaquist contends: "The wrong employers and the wrong employees."
Union officials also contend the dismissed workers were performing jobs that no other workers want. As a result, they said, the company is struggling to resume production with temporary workers. The union says it represented 65 production workers at Twin City Hide before the dismissals. In some cases, the workers have been there as long as 10 years.
In the past three months, the Department of Homeland Security has audited three companies with unionized workers, the unions say. Each of the employers, according to the unions, pays more than the nonunion market average-wage and has very few, if any, labor or tax violations.
Workplace audits in the past couple of years have represented a shift from the Bush administration, which targeted workers in large-scale raids, said Laura Danielson, head of the immigration practice at the law firm Fredrikson & Byron.
The consequences might end up being similar in that the worker either is going to lose a job and be arrested or take off before being arrested. "In many ways it has the same result, yet the focus is on employer compliance instead of the focus on undocumented workers."
In her opinion, enforcement doesn't fix the main problem. "The problem is that there aren't enough visas available that will help fill the gap for those employers," that need essential workers for certain jobs that many Americans will not take. "There are many industries like that around Minnesota."
In fiscal year 2010, the immigration agency conducted more than 2,200 audits nationally, up from 1,400 in the previous fiscal year. It issued 240 fines totaling $6.9 million in the 2010 period, up from 52 fines totaling about $1 million in 2009, according to the agency.
In the case of Twin City Hide, the employer received notice of the audit several months ago. The union got a 30-day extension for workers to get their documents in order. If they didn't have sufficient documentation showing legal status to work in the U.S., they were terminated.
"There's a perception that employers that employ undocumented workers are taking advantage of them," Danielson said. "I would say there probably are some employers taking advantage of workers who are vulnerable. But the employers I see are trying to do it right and they are just trying to fill jobs."
Braun: Fickle immigration policies keep green card out of reach for accomplished N.J. woman (The Star-Ledger)
Braun: Fickle immigration policies keep green card out of reach for accomplished N.J. woman
Published: Thursday, December 02, 2010, 8:56 AM Updated: Thursday, December 02, 2010, 9:22 AM
Bob Braun/Star-Ledger Columnist
TOMS RIVER — Cecilia Ojoawo says she lives in a kind of limbo, and that is not a good place to be. Far worse for someone, like her, who is blind and alone. In a different time not long ago, she would probably be celebrated as a brave and accomplished woman, worthy of help or, at least, compassion.
But Ojoawo is one of the unwanted in this country. She may have, in her solitary darkness, earned an undergraduate and master’s degree and finished her coursework for a doctorate at Boston University. She may have worked as a public school teacher and counselor for a state agency for the blind. She may have been an advocate and volunteer for blind Americans. She may have for 25 years contributed to the lives of others who cannot see.
She may have done all that, but she is an immigrant, an out-of-status immigrant, and that has led her to lose a work permit she had for a quarter-century and, with it, her ability to earn a living.
Her home in Toms River is in foreclosure because she cannot pay the mortgage. When it gets sold, she also will be homeless. She has no money to return to Nigeria and, even if she did, has no one there to help her. She has no family here and few there.
"Ever since I was a child, I have tried to overcome what happened to me and use the knowledge I have gained to help others,’’ says Ojoawo, 53. "I think I have done some good.’’
Her blindness is a result of small pox, contracted as a 10-year-old in Nigeria, where she was born and lived until she came here for college. For the last 30 years, she has lived in the United States, first as a student and then as a teacher, counselor and advocate for the blind.
Ojoawo’s problem is the word "most." If she had lived all that time in the United States, not just most of it, she would not be facing destitution and homelessness. In 1986, however, she returned for several months to Nigeria to care for a brother who was in a car crash.
According to the federal bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, she overstayed the time she should have been away and that landed her out-of-status. She also, immigration officials say, worked when she should have been just a college student.
There was a time when federal immigration policy was more forgiving. Ojoawo’s life coincided with that era — a time when the government granted amnesty more easily than it does now. She thought she could win amnesty or a second chance of remaining here permanently.
"It was confusing," she says. "Although the government said I was out of status, I continued to receive work permits every three years. They obviously knew I was here and they knew what my status was."
Over the years, she pursued her efforts to win a green card. The height and complexity of her file mounted and includes, among other things, a concession that one of her appeals was rejected in error. Her last appeal for an adjustment to her status, to allow her to resume working, was denied just weeks ago. Her stay in limbo was extended indefinitely.
"That was a terrible day," she says.
Another terrible day because, a year earlier, she had to resign from her job as a counselor with the New Jersey Commission for the Blind because her work permit was not renewed.
As an out-of-status immigrant, Ojoawo is ineligible for government benefits, including unemployment and disability. She has lived on cashed-in pension benefits but they’re gone. She lives alone, she is broke, and she is soon to be homeless. Just weeks, she says, from eviction.
"As a blind person, I can’t exactly work for under-the-table income," she says. "I can’t show up at someone’s house and offer to clean it."
Ojoawo is pursuing other appeals. The office of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez has expressed an interest in her case and, perhaps, it can help.
A devout Catholic since childhood, she has made friends throughout the state through the Cursillo movement, a group of Evangelical Christians.
"Cecilia has done so much so much for so many," says her friend Carolyn Ahrens of South Orange, who met the Nigerian in church and, like her, is active in the religious movement. "We should be doing something for her now."
What Ahrens is trying to do — first — is save Ojoawo’s home. The chances look slim.
"But we’re not looking for a miracle," says Ahrens. "We’re looking for justice."
Shelby bad check suspects will be deported
BY JAMI KINTON • NEWS JOURNAL • DECEMBER 2, 2010
SHELBY -- Nine men arrested on felony charges last week pleaded guilty Wednesday and will be deported through U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A representative from Shelby Municipal Courts said plea bargains reduced forgery charges to misdemeanor counts of receiving stolen property.
Last Tuesday, Roberto Guevara, 24; Jorge Priego Ortega, 27; Jesus Mata-Lopez, 22; Cristian Fuentes Torrez, 26; Uriel Nunez Almeron, 27; Mario Daniel Herrera, 23; Jose A. Torres-Flores, 24; Jose Alexandro Reyes-Mata, 24; and Alfonso Suarez-Gonzalez, 31, were arrested after Shelby police acted on reports of fraudulent payroll checks being cashed at several locations.
At a preliminary hearing Wednesday, police Chief Charlie Roub said he was pleased to see the men plead guilty.
"This puts this case in the federal authorities' hands and takes the burden off of us," Roub said. "It's a good way to handle this, so it's not a long, drawn-out process. It's fine with us as we'll still get pretty much the same results. What's important now is getting people their money back."
Roub estimated about $4,000 was stolen. He said the checks were cashed at fast-cash businesses.
The men are in Richland County Jail, awaiting deportation to Mexico.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Immigration authorities remove holds on two suspects in Gert Boyle kidnap case
Published: Wednesday, December 01, 2010, 5:17 PM Updated: Wednesday, December 01, 2010, 5:53 PM
Rick Bella, The Oregonian
Federal immigration authorities have lifted holds on two of the three foreign-born suspects held in a kidnap-for-ransom plot that targeted Columbia Sportswear Chairwoman Gert Boyle.
An investigation determined that the two men were in the United States legally at the time of their arrest, but federal officials would not discuss any of the suspects' specific immigration status. The third suspect remains under an immigration hold and is not eligible for bail.
"The two did not meet the threshold for removal, so the detainers were dropped," said Lorie Dankers, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, commonly referred to as ICE.
None of the men appears to have a criminal record. If convicted of crimes, the two men cleared of immigration holds could become eligible for deportation. Meanwhile, all three remain in the Clackamas County Jail, charged with kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, burglary and robbery.
Two ICE agents work full-time at the jail. If a suspect raises red flags, ICE agents begin an independent immigration investigation parallel to the state's criminal justice process. However, as Dankers explains, it can be difficult to determine immigration status because of insufficient documentation. Some suspects may not know their immigration status and some may not be certain where they were born.
If ICE agents find a suspect "removable," the inmate is taken to the federal Northwest Detention Center in Seattle for adjudication. Appeals can delay a final decision for as long as two years.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stepped up such efforts after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Clackamas County officials instituted additional jailhouse screening in 2007, after a Mexican national who illegally remained in Oregon after a drunken driving conviction killed a 15-year-old girl in Milwaukie.
The kidnap case began, Nov. 10, when a man followed Boyle, 86, into her garage after she returned home. After a confrontation, the man shoved her into the house, demanding money and jewelry. Boyle was able to push a silent panic button, and the assailant ran when police arrived.
Police arrested Nestor Gabriel Caballero Gutierrez five hours later and arrested two additional suspects over the next five days.
Nestor Gabriel Caballero Gutierrez, 39, of Aloha, alleged to be the ringleader. Bail for Gutierrez, born in Honduras, is set at $500,000.
Caballero Gutierrez, formerly ran an advertising agency producing Spanish-language commercials and helped companies such as Portland General Electric, Safeway, Dick Hannah Dealerships and Pacific Power to connect with the Latino market. However, Caballero Gutierrez, married father of four, suffered serious setbacks, eventually losing his home to foreclosure.
Ramon Alberto Midence, 41, of Beaverton, also held on $500,000 bail. Midence, married father of three, runs Ram's Auto Repair in Aloha. He also was born in Honduras. Prosecutors contend he drove Caballero Gutierrez to Boyle's home, then waited down the street.
Jose Luis Arevalo, 47, of Beaverton. He is estranged from his wife, who also lives in Beaverton. Arevalo, reportedly born in Guatemala, told investigators that he offered the use of his van and agreed to serve as a driver for $20,000.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Shoplifting suspects didn't wait for sales
November 30, 2010
BY ERIN GUERRA, POST-TRIBUNE CORRESPONDENT
Christmas shoplifting season appears to have begun, with stores in Portage and Valparaiso reporting an increased number of thefts.
Among the more unusual arrests was that of Susan Agent, 39, of Lake Station, who allegedly watched as the two juveniles she brought to Kmart, 6050 U.S. 6 in Portage, hid toys, BBs and candy in her diaper bag. As store security detained the juveniles around 11:40 a.m. Friday, Agent -- whom police later saw on the security video witnessing and ignoring the thefts -- allegedly tried to flee.
She went to her vehicle, presumably to put away items she had purchased, but instead got in and attempted to drive away, with a 1-year-old child unsecured next to her in the front seat, according to the police report. Agent reportedly fled from the squad car that pursued her in the parking lot until a second police car pulled in front of her. In addition to theft, she also was charged with felony neglect of a dependent and misdemeanor driving with a suspended license.
In a separate incident, two men were arrested for allegedly stealing 12 cans of powdered baby formula, worth $173.88, intended to be a gift for family members in Mexico.
Santiago Espinosa, 23, and Juan Olivares Callada, 20, admitted being illegal immigrants when they were arrested at about 12:15 p.m. Wednesday while leaving Town and Country Market, 1605 Calumet Ave., Valparaiso. Each had half a dozen cans of formula secured in girdles they wore under their clothes. The men gave an Indianapolis address but said they've been working in the Valparaiso area. U.S. Immigration Services has been notified of the felony theft arrests.
Also arrested for felony theft stemming from attempted shoplifting were:
* Tonya Leudtke, 33, of Portage, arrested at 7 p.m. Friday at Cartronix, 6441 U.S. 6 in Portage, after employees called police saying she had been in the store for more than two hours, was talking to herself and appeared drunk. A cell phone case, still in its factory plastic, was in her purse. Leudtke also is charged with public intoxication and possession of a controlled substance.
* Deanna Reid, 39, of Valparaiso, arrested at 2:15 p.m. Saturday at Town and Country Market in Valparaiso for felony theft after allegedly hiding $27.85 worth of groceries -- including dog food, gum and candy -- in her purse.
* Kenneth Campbell, 50, of Valparaiso, arrested at 11:40 a.m. Wednesday for felony theft for allegedly stealing a hammer, pliers and glue from Menards, at 351 Silhavy Road in Valparaiso. The shoplifted items were worth $13.48.
* Janice Bennett, 19, of Portage, arrested at 8:30 p.m. Sunday at Kohl's, 6495 U.S. 6 in Portage, where she also is an employee. Bennett allegedly stole two pairs of underwear, worth $16, after clocking out for the day, according to the police report. Bennett told police she did not pay for the items because she is "trying to save money for the holidays."
54 deported immigrants who returned arrested in NY
* NOVEMBER 20, 2010, 1:08 P.M. ET
NEW YORK — Federal immigration authorities in the New York City area have arrested 54 illegal immigrants with criminal records who had previously been deported but re-entered the United States.
Officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the arrests came as part of a four-day sweep conducted in recent days that was the largest operation of its kind.
The arrests were made in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester and Orange counties. Those arrested are now in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
Authorities said the arrested include a 39-year-old Dominican Republic man convicted of multiple counts of sexual assault involving a child and a 31-year-old Bahamas man convicted of robbery.
Six undocumented/illegal immigrants arrested in Tamworth and Jackson
By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010
JACKSON – Authorities arrested six undocumented/illegal immigrants this week in Tamworth and Jackson. They were turned over to the custody of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents, state police said Thursday.
Four from Honduras were arrested around 11:20 a.m. Wednesday by state and local police at an undisclosed construction site in Jackson.
They were identified as Linsi Teller Martinez-Turcios, 29; Nestor Humberto Ramirez Rivera, 45; Cristopher Gustavo Martinez-Martinez, 25; and Rufino Contreras, 32.
Information received from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol led state police to believe that Martinez-Turcios was working in the Jackson area for a local construction company and that he was wanted for a subsequent illegal immigration violation after he had previously been deported from the United States for a similar violation, according to state police.
This tip came after state police arrested two other undocumented/illegal immigrants on Route 16 in Tamworth on Monday.
The two men from Mexico were identified as Jose Robles-Carrera, 32; and Luis Manuel Ramirez, 21.
Norcross man jailed in Alabama on human-trafficking charge
Gwinnett County News 12:56 p.m. Tuesday, November 30, 2010
By Jeremy Redmon
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A Norcross man is being held in an Alabama jail, accused of transporting a suspected illegal immigrant from the Atlanta area to Florence to sell him as a restaurant laborer.
Florence, Ala., police have charged Ming Zhang, 49, with second-degree human trafficking for allegedly trying to sell a Honduran man to a restaurant.
Police arrested Zhang on Nov. 23. He is being held at the Lauderdale County Detention Center, in northwestern Alabama. Police have not identified the Honduran man. They said they suspect he is in the country illegally but have not confirmed that.
FBI and Homeland Security authorities have been assisting with the case, Florence police said.
“While in Florence, the Honduran male realized what was going on and objected to the sale and called police,” said Florence Police Detective Justin Wright. “This is the first case that we have had of this nature. ... This is totally new from the Atlanta area.”
Zhang’s court-appointed attorney, Jeff Austin, declined to comment Tuesday. And a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had no immediate comment.
Arizona employer law nets immigrants, not companies
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
By Daniel C. Vock, Stateline Staff Writer
PHOENIX — The video footage on the Phoenix morning news one Monday in mid-November showed dozens of heavily armed sheriff’s deputies breaking in on a business to round up and haul off illegal immigrants. The target of the morning raid was a landscaping company, but this was the 40th time in the past two years that the Maricopa County sheriff had raided a workplace. Among those previously targeted were McDonald’s franchises, a military contractor, sellers of printer cartridges, a meat packing plant, specialty metalworkers and trash collectors.
Like the other raids, the move on Nunez Creative Landscaping was a show of force that played well in front of TV cameras. Dozens of deputies stormed the premises. Suspects were handcuffed and led away. A news helicopter hovered overhead. Later, Joe Arpaio, the controversial lawman who brands himself as “America’s toughest sheriff,” held a press conference on the scene in time to make the early morning shows. Arpaio said half of the company’s 52 employees were suspected of being in the country illegally. His officers nabbed 17 of them that Monday and have taken away nearly 500 from various businesses since the workplace raids began.
The raid had another familiar aspect: The company’s owners were not targets, even though Arizona has the country’s toughest law against employers who hire illegal immigrants. The sheriff said his officers did not have enough evidence to go after the owners. Arpaio defended the raid when asked about it by a local reporter. “If we don’t get the employer,” he said, “we’re sure going to continue to get the employees that are here illegally using false identification.”
In fact, despite the dozens of raids, only two companies have ever been forced to close their doors under Arizona’s three-year-old employee verification law. The punishments in those cases were trivial: A Subway sandwich shop agreed to close on Easter and Thanksgiving, and a water park agreed to a 10-day suspension, but only after it already had gone out of business.
The Legal Arizona Workers Act may be tough, but even its supporters say it has been a disappointment. It faces plenty of opposition here in Arizona, especially among business owners and civil rights advocates.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case next month to decide whether the Arizona law is legal, which could decide the fate of other state immigration laws, including Senate Bill 1070, the Arizona law passed this spring to give police more power to crack down on illegal immigration.
But just as important a question still lingers over Arizona’s employee verification law: Is it even effective?
New checks required
The 2007 law requires companies with Arizona workers to screen new hires using E-Verify, the online tool from the Department of Homeland Security that checks the legal status of applicants. On paper, the penalties for an employer failing to comply are steep: a 10-day shutdown for the first offense and, for a second violation, the loss of a business license, what is often called the corporate “death penalty.”
Thanks to the law, Arizona now has 70,000 company sites signed up for E-Verify. Even though Arizona accounts for only one out of every 50 people in the country, it has one-sixth of the nation’s companies using E-Verify.
The federal government sets rules for participation in E-Verify. First, employers can screen only new workers; they cannot go back and check out existing employees. Second, the companies can use E-Verify only for people they actually have hired. That is, the employers cannot run checks of candidates to “pre-screen” them before hiring them. And companies cannot use the tool to discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity.
Bonnie Newman, a Phoenix lawyer who specializes in E-Verify issues, says some companies have hired additional personnel to handle the new requirements. Others are using outside vendors and some are simply adding it to the duties of their current human resources staff. “It does require for most companies a reengineering of their new hire process,” she says. “It adds a step and it adds complications.”
Newman is concerned that the reliance on E-Verify will spur identity theft. The E-Verify system is not foolproof. An independent analysis released last winter showed that the database flagged only about half of the applicants that it should have. The other half got through by using fake IDs of real people. For the most part, the system shows whether a person’s name, Social Security number and other vital information match federal records. It does not confirm whether an applicant is who he says he is.
In one case, making the system friendlier to legal workers opened up a vulnerability for identity theft. The Social Security Administration, whose records are used for E-Verify, now allows combinations of different components of a name to be used as a match, so “John James Smith” would match with “James John Smith” as long as the Social Security numbers are identical. Unfortunately, identity thieves have caught on and started issuing IDs with multiple names that will still clear E-Verify. Anecdotally, observers say identity theft is on the rise in Arizona as a result of the law. Last year, Arizona trailed only Florida for the most identity theft complaints per capita.
One of the sponsors of the law, Republican state Representative John Kavanagh, says the law has been a “toothless tiger” in that it does not give law enforcement enough tools. Specifically, Kavanagh, a former police officer, says prosecutors need subpoena power to investigate employers. The law does not give it to them. But business groups fought fiercely against that idea and could have derailed the whole bill had it remained, Kavanagh says.
A darker side
Lydia Guzman, president of Somos America (We are America), an immigrant rights coalition in Arizona, says the employee verification law has trapped undocumented workers in their current jobs. Companies cannot check the status of their current workers using E-Verify, but if the employee quits and tries to get another job, he or she will have to have their records checked. Some unscrupulous bosses know this, and use it against their employees, Guzman says. In one instance, she says, a cook at a Chinese restaurant was reluctant to complain when her boss slapped her and shoved her hand in a pot of hot soup. Another woman Guzman helped complained of sexual harassment at work but would not quit her job.
The raids have also hit home at Phoenix’s Neighborhood Ministries, where the father of four children who participate in the Christian group’s youth activities was arrested in one of the sweeps. Ian Danley, a pastor there, notes that, while 24 people were taken in that raid, no action has been taken against the employer. “As a person of faith, it is a justice issue,” he says. “If we are just going to punish the weakest, most vulnerable people, I have a problem with that.”
Although only two companies have been punished under the law, prosecutors are still pursuing a case against a third. That case, against Scottsdale Art Factory, has bounced between federal and state courts. As part of the back-and-forth, the company is now accusing the sheriff’s office of civil rights violations.
According to David Selden, a Phoenix employment lawyer who represents the company, some 50 sheriff’s deputies entered the firm’s buildings through multiple doors with guns drawn, pointing at employees and even the elderly mother of one of the owners. The officers separated Hispanics from whites and processed them separately. They took photos of the Hispanic suspects but not the white ones. In fact, one of the white workers spoke little English and needed a Bosnian translator but did not undergo the same scrutiny as the Hispanic workers. Some of the white workers were not asked for identification, Selden alleged in court documents. He says the differential treatment rendered the raid unconstitutional.
The employer verification law is one of several measures Arizona has enacted since 2004 to try to stem the tide of illegal immigration. The state imposed rules to require voters to prove their citizenship when they registered (a law struck down last month), limited state-funded services to illegal immigrants, passed the employee verification law and, this spring, gave police more power to enforce immigration law (a law now largely put on hold by federal courts).
When Arizona legislators passed this spring’s immigration enforcement law, they explicitly stated that their goal was to encourage illegal immigrants to leave the state. Indeed, the Pew Hispanic Center recently concluded that the population of unauthorized immigrants in a three-state region that includes Arizona was decreasing even before that law passed.
But Danley, the pastor, says most families he knows are staying put. The people who are leaving Arizona likely had not been there for long, he says. The moribund economy makes it hard for families to save up enough money to be able to move. “Right now,” Danley says, “people are in survival mode, and survival comes before escape.”
Fenway vendor fined in immigration audit
Cited in US review of employee forms
By Maria Sacchetti
Globe Staff / November 10, 2010
The food concessionaire at Fenway Park is among five New England companies that federal immigration officials fined last fiscal year for being unable to prove that all their workers were in the United States legally.
Officials would not say if the vendor, Aramark of Philadelphia, had actually hired illegal workers at Fenway Park, but they fined the company $50,000 for violations found during an audit of federal I-9 forms, paperwork that must be filled out by employees when they are hired to show they have legal authorization to work.
Bruce Foucart, head of investigations for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New England, which conducts the audits, said the reviews are designed to crack down on company owners who hire illegal workers, as well as workers who engage in criminal activity.
“I’m hoping that it’s acting as a deterrent for people,’’ he said.
He said that in some cases the audits uncovered illegal immigrants; in other cases, there were paperwork violations.
The other companies fined last year are Burger King franchises in several places in New England; a Somerville construction company; a seafood-processing plant in Maine; and an adult entertainment club in Maine.
Aramark officials said they have improved their paperwork processes, but would not comment further. The company said the fine was related to an audit in 2008.
“It has been our policy to hire people with appropriate and proper documentation, and we are committed to complying with the law in all of our hiring practices,’’ said a spokesman, David Freireich.
The fines reflect the Obama administration’s policy shift last year to crack down on employers who hire illegal workers in hope that it will address the underlying causes that attract such workers to this country. Nationwide, immigration officials arrested and charged 187 employers last year for violations following the I-9 audits, up from 114 the year before and 135 two years ago.
Fines are on the rise as well. In New England, federal officials imposed $74,452.50 in fines last year, up from $14,534 in 2008. Nationwide, the fines rose tenfold from $675,209 two years ago to nearly $7 million last year.
4 indicted in smuggling case
By Katherine Rosenberg
Corpus Christi Caller Times
Posted November 30, 2010 at 7:43 a.m., updated November 30, 2010 at 7:44 a.m.
CORPUS CHRISTI — Four people, including a Portland firefighter and an Army National Guard member, were indicted on charges of smuggling illegal immigrants and money laundering, according to the United States Attorney’s South Texas District Office.
Firefighter Peter Jones, 26; Lorena Martinez, 36; National Guard member Beatrice Rodriguez, 39; and Josesantos Zacarias, 42, were arrested Nov. 23 and all but Zacharias had a detention hearing Monday before a U.S. magistrate judge, according to a news release.
The indictment alleges the four defendants conspired to transport illegal immigrants from Mexico by car from 1993 to 2010. It also accuses all but Zacharias of structuring withdrawals from a bank account to avoid reporting the income, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Amounts less than $10,000 were withdrawn in 2006 to purchase property in Corpus Christi and Portland, according to the news release. The homes now are subject to forfeiture because they allegedly were purchased with money gained from illegal activity.
When searching the home of Jones and Martinez officials, found more than $21,000 in cash and other financial documents. At that time, a fifth person was arrested after being accused of making a false claim of American citizenship, officials said.
At the hearing, Jones and Rodriguez were ordered released after posting $1,000 of a $30,000 bond. Martinez has been ordered detained without bond pending trial. Zacharias remains in custody pending a detention hearing because he is a Mexican national, officials said.
All four counts alleged in the indictment are conspiracy to transport undocumented immigrants, conspiracy to launder money and two counts of money laundering carry a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Jones and Martinez made headlines last year when the firefighter delivered his wife’s baby on top of the Harbor Bridge on Christmas Day.
ICE arrest records show most illegal immigrants caught in state lack criminal records
By GAVIN OFF World Data Editor
Published: 11/29/2010 2:21 AM
Last Modified: 11/29/2010 5:15 AM
Most illegal immigrants arrested by fugitive operations teams in Oklahoma do not have criminal records, data show.
And, although the data are incomplete, most of those with an arrest history committed misdemeanors, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency reported.
The ICE data detail more than 1,100 arrests of illegal immigrants in Oklahoma since 2008. It's unclear exactly how many individuals were arrested because the data do not include names. They could include multiple arrests for a single person.
The Tulsa World reviewed the information, which it obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE.
Doug Stump, the vice president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said: "I'm convinced (ICE's) mission as charged to focus on criminal aliens has been sidetracked. I think (ICE's) job is to protect the country from harm. I don't know that a 60-year-old grandmother who missed her deportation meeting has a priority nearly as high as someone who's committed a violent crime."
ICE developed the National Fugitive Operations Program in 2003 to find and deport fugitive illegal immigrants. It started with eight teams. Now it has more than 100.
Fugitives are those who have received final deportation orders from an immigration judge but have refused to go.
ICE reports indicate that the fugitive operations program should focus on:
* Fugitives who pose a threat to national security.
* Fugitives convicted of violent crimes or who otherwise pose a threat to the community.
* Fugitives convicted of crimes other than violent offenses.
Teams then can focus on those remaining fugitives.
But of the 1,118 arrests by the fugitive operations teams in Oklahoma since 2008, 59 percent involved people who did not have criminal records, data show. Fifty-four percent of those arrested in the Tulsa area had no criminal records.
"I would rather see my local law enforcement officers protect me from criminal activity," said Stump, whose law firm has offices in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
Carl Rusnok, an ICE spokesman, said the agency focuses on removing criminals and targets non-criminals as resources allow.
"We prioritize," he said. "We prioritize our budget, we prioritize our time."
Rusnok said nearly 393,000 people were deported from the U.S. in the last fiscal year. ICE reports show that more than 195,000 had criminal convictions.
Of the 463 criminal arrests by the fugitive operation teams in Oklahoma since 2008, 126 had felony convictions, data show. Again, a single person could have been charged with multiple crimes.
For example, Roberto Salvador Alvelais-Torres, 28, killed a 74-year-old Tulsa cyclist in a hit-and-run last year near U.S. 75 and the 1700 block of Southwest Boulevard. He was arrested on complaints of negligent homicide by motor vehicle, leaving the scene of an accident and operating a vehicle without a valid driver's license or insurance.
The crimes of those arrested in Oklahoma include 55 assaults, 26 hit-and-runs, 13 homicides and seven weapons offenses.
Carol Helm, the director of the group Immigration Reform for Oklahoma Now, said ICE wasn't removing enough illegal immigrants.
She said it should not target only those who might be dangerous. Illegal immigrants, criminal and noncriminal alike, take jobs from U.S. citizens, she said.
"Any violator of our immigration laws should be deported," she said. "That's just the bottom line of it."
Annual budget for the National Fugitive Operations Program by fiscal year
2006: $63.3 million
2007: $183.2 million
2008: $218.9 million
2009: $226.5 million
2010: $229.7 million
Crimes committed by illegal aliens who were arrested by fugitive operations in Oklahoma from 2008 through mid-2010
Hit and run: 26
Cocaine sales: 15
Marijuana sales: 13
(A single person might have been charged with multiple crimes)
Source: Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Washington state won't join U.S. immigration program
Rights: Fingerprints would be checked in jails against database
LORNET TURNBULL; The Seattle Times | • Published November 30, 2010
Washington state has declined to sign an agreement that would allow the fingerprints of people booked into local jails to be checked against a national immigration database.
Immigration officials say the idea behind Secure Communities, a federal program rolling out across the country, is to identify, detain and eventually deport those subject to removal from the country, with a particular focus on those who have committed serious crimes.
But Secure Communities is controversial in some places where it operates, with immigrant advocates saying that it snags immigrants who’ve committed only minor offenses and could discourage people from reporting crimes to the police.
The program is in 788 jurisdictions across 34 states, including Oregon, Idaho and California, and in the past two years has led to the expulsion of some 46,800 individuals from the country.
The Department of Homeland Security, which runs Secure Communities through its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division, said it will be in every jail nationwide by 2013.
Over the last year, ICE has been trying to reach agreements with the agency in each state that serves as that state’s clearinghouse for fingerprint data. Any agreement with that agency would cover all local jurisdictions in the state.
In Washington, that agency is the State Patrol, which has chosen not to sign the agreement to activate Secure Communities here.
“We are a state law-enforcement agency, and we don’t want to go down the road of being an immigration agency,” Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins said. “The chief and the governor are of the same mind on this.”
A spokeswoman for Gov. Chris Gregoire said the governor has not yet made a “final determination.”
Calkins also said that while the State Patrol hasn’t signed the agreement, it won’t prevent local jurisdictions from doing so.
Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which advocates for stronger immigration enforcement, said Washington’s position is wrongheaded political correctness.
Local authorities, he said, don’t refuse to cooperate with other federal law-enforcement agencies, such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“What possible justification can they have for not turning over this information that might be the one opportunity to catch someone who is really dangerous?” Mehlman asked. “They are just asking for some future tragedy.”
Those who advocate for immigrants and worked with the state in evaluating the program said there are still too many unanswered questions about how it works.
ICE, they say, falsely promotes this as a program that targets only serious criminals. In reality, they point out, the fingerprints of those who become naturalized citizens or obtain their green cards are also in the immigration database along with those who might have encountered immigration officers for any number of other reasons – and a traffic violation that results in their arrest might land them in deportation proceedings.
Jorge Barn, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, said there also are concerns about any chilling effect the program might have. “Whenever you get local law enforcement involved in immigration enforcement in this way, immigrant-community members become afraid of coming forward and reporting crime they may have witnessed or been a victim to,” he said.
ICE officials say there’s no evidence that’s happening and point out that only the fingerprints of people who have been arrested are submitted for screening.
ICE is phasing the program in, county by county, as it builds its infrastructure over the next few years, with immediate activation in those jurisdictions with the largest caseloads.
But it is facing pushback in some places.
In at least two jurisdictions in California, where the state’s Department of Justice has signed the agreement with ICE, officials have inquired about opting out of participation.
San Francisco says the program violates its status as a sanctuary city, which forbids cooperation with ICE unless mandated by law.
ICE now says communities may not opt out, after earlier saying they would be allowed to. Secure Communities expands on a program ICE already operates across the country that allows its officers to check the names of people who’ve been booked into jails and prisons against ICE’s national database.
ICE then places a detainer on those deemed deportable, requesting that local law enforcement hold them for up to 48 hours until an ICE officer can pick the person up.
Deported once already, man charged again
BY THOMASI MCDONALD - Staff Writer
Published Tue, Nov 30, 2010 04:12 AM
Modified Tue, Nov 30, 2010 10:39 AM
RALEIGH -- A man immigration officials deported in 2008 for drunken driving entered the country illegally only to be arrested again on an outstanding warrant charging him with sex offenses against a minor, authorities reported Monday.
When Rey David Rosas-Rosas, 29, of Raleigh was deported back to Mexico on Dec. 18, 2008, by officials with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Law Enforcement, he managed to elude another warrant for his arrest by Garner police charging him with one count each of felony indecent liberties with a child and statutory rape, said Sgt. Scott Crawford of the Garner police.
Crawford said prior to Rosas-Rosas being charged in Wake County with driving while impaired, Garner police had obtained a warrant charging him with taking indecent liberties with a 14-year-old Aug. 1, 2004. But before Garner police could arrest him, Rosas-Rosas was deported.
When Garner police realized what had happened to their suspect, they went to the Wake County District Attorney's Office on Feb. 6, 2009, and entered his name in the National Crime Information Center database and in the N.C. Aware database.
Rosas-Rosas found his way back into the United States. He was stopped by Raleigh police Sunday on the 2000 block of South Saunders Street. He was charged initially with driving while impaired and with having an expired registration sticker, court records show.
Then an information check revealed the 2008 warrant, Crawford said. "There's no statute of limitations for a felony," Crawford said.
In addition to the criminal charges, the Wake County Sheriff's Office has placed a detainer on Rosas-Rosas with federal officials because they think he is again in the United States illegally, court records show.
Rosas-Rosas is being held in the Wake County jail. His bail for the DWI and expired registration charges is $5,000. Bail of $205,000 is required for the sexual offense charges.
Protesters arrested at Congressional office
By: Chuck Quirmbach, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Published November 30 2010
RACINE -- Three people were arrested at the Racine office of Congressman Paul Ryan on Monday night. It was part of a non-violent protest in favor of a bill to help some undocumented immigrants get into college or the U.S. military.
The DREAM Act would help undocumented people who entered the United States before the age of 16, have been in the U.S. for at least five consecutive years, and meet other requirements.
A Racine teacher and two members of the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera were arrested for trespassing at the Racine office of Representative Paul Ryan, when they refused to leave a late afternoon protest aimed at getting Ryan to support the DREAM Act as it possibly nears a vote.
Voces executive director Christine Neumann-Ortiz was one of those arrested. Before the event, she said the time for civil disobedience has come.
Congressman Ryan released a statement to a Racine newspaper saying the DREAM Act should be debated by Congress in a comprehensive fashion that bolsters border security first.
Immigration raids in Cary
November 30, 2010
Posted at 2:10 PM by Sarah Ovaska
Here’s some breaking news from N.C. Policy Watch about an unusual immigration case in the Triangle area.
Two weeks ago, federal immigration agents arrived at three construction worksites in the Cary and Durham area and arrested more than two dozen workers from construction sites in the Cary and Durham area, according to court documents. All but one of the 20 arrested construction workers were Mexican nationals, and all worked for J&A Framing Carpentry Inc., a small Durham company that does framing work for residential and commercial building. They’ve been in jail since Nov. 15 and 17.
In the federal courthouse in Raleigh today, eight of the 20 men plead guilty to a federal misdemeanor criminal charge of “eluding examation of inspection by immigration officers,” meaning that the men were living in the country without permission of immigration officials.
Their punishment, as expected, was light. They were given a 30-day sentence in custody and ordered to pay $10 assessment. They’ll be deported to their home country of Mexico once they finish out the remaining two weeks of their punishment. The remaining twelve workers are still awaiting trials on criminal charges of their own, also related to being in the country illegally.
Tom O’Connell, the special agent-in-charge of the Cary office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office, declined to comment on the case, referring comment to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh. And Robin Zier, the spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, couldn’t answer any questions either, because the investigation is ongoing.
So why is this case unusual?
Most immigration violations are not handled through the federal criminal system, but instead go through the immigration courts system. It’s unclear why the 20 men picked up on the Cary worksites were charged criminally, and why they were targets of the federal investigation to begin with.
The New York Times reported in July on how immigration enforcement, under the Obama administration, has moved away from the workplace raids seen in this case and towards “silent” raids where pressure is put employers through fines to not hire undocumented workers. Workers are often then fired by the employers, but have not typically been rounded up in immigration raids like what was recently seen with J&A Framing.
Juan Antonio Lopez, the owner of J&A, said he hasn’t been charged anything, though he was asked to turn over accounting information for his company.
He appears to be a target, but Lopez told NC Policy Watch in a phone interview that he’s not been charged with anything, though he was questioned about his accounting and hiring practices by federal agents.
Check back with N.C. Policy Watch tomorrow morning when we’ll have a fuller report about the immigration raids themselves. If you’ve got questions, drop reporter Sarah Ovaska an email at email@example.com.
Also, several local immigration advocates plan on holding a vigil from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m tonight at the Louisburg Detention Center, where the detained workers are being held.
Arrested DREAM Act Protesters Released
Protesters Formed Human Chain Inside Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's Local Office
POSTED: Tuesday, November 30, 2010
UPDATED: 12:36 pm CST November 30, 2010
SAN ANTONIO -- More than a dozen protesters that were arrested Monday night at the local offices of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison following a six-hour protest, were released Tuesday morning.
The protesters were hoping to speak with Hutchison to get her to support the DREAM Act, which would grant some illegal immigrants permanent resident status if they meet certain criteria. However, their act of civil disobedience ended without a talk.
Police said the protesters arrived at 3 p.m. and formed a human chain inside the office while others formed a blockage towards the doorway to the office.
Just after 9 p.m., the first protesters were led away in handcuffs. Eight students were taken out minutes later.
The students were part of a group of 14 that started a hunger strike 20 days ago as a show of support for the DREAM Act. Police said protesters will be charged with criminal trespassing.
Immediately after the arrests, other supporters gathered at the Magistrate's Office and held a candlelight vigil Tuesday morning for those arrested.
One demonstrator said the arrests Monday night were necessary to put pressure on Hutchison.
"It's a question that has never been put before her here in Texas," said Marta Quintanilla. "Our actions from yesterday are just going to create a domino effect across Texas."
Quintanilla also added member of her group expect to be arrested again for staging future protests.
KSAT-12 received a statement from Hutchison's office regarding the arrests Monday evening.
Her staff said they attempted to close the San Antonio field office at the normal time and student protesters refused to leave.
Staff asked security to escort the students from the office and requested no arrests be made.
The students continued to resist and that resulted in their arrest.
The statement noted Hutchison appreciated these students' passion for their cause, but hoped they can find safer and more peaceful ways to voice their opinions.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Federal Judge Downes frustrated by employers
by Greg Fladager
Thursday, November 25, 2010 3:46 PM MST
“I’ve had a bellyful of this hypocrisy,” said Federal Judge William Downes in Casper as he was about to sentence another illegal immigrant from Mexico.
Standing before him was Manuel Sanchez Rodriquez, who had been arrested for drunk driving. It almost doesn’t matter where, it could be anywhere in Wyoming.
Judge Downes made the comment as he was inquiring whether Rodriquez held steady employment in his past three years in the state, and with what company.
“Lightning Construction,” Rodriquez said in Spanish, the word “lightning” getting confused in translation, just as it had when interviewed for his pre-sentence report.
“Did you have steady employment?” the judge asked again.
“Two years and eight months,” Rodriquez finally stated though a translator.
“Has any American in Evanston who hired you ever asked for documentation?” the judge continued.
Rodriquez paused, listening to the translator, and then said, “No.”
“Sadly, that’s the state of justice in America … ” Downes remarked, shaking his head, noting only the illegal workers are prosecuted, not the employers, then further commenting while some Americans are duped, many knowingly violate the law. This was the judge’s second hearing on an undocumented worker that morning.
“You, we criminalize,” Downes said looking at Rodriquez. “We don’t look at the criminal behavior, or potential criminal behavior, of employers … only yours.”
Rodriquez told the judge he was from a poor family in the state of Chihuahua, and had come to work and earn money to help his family, and brothers and sisters. This will be second time he has been deported.
“I know things are very hard in the state of Chihuahua right now,” Downes said, pausing, “but you have violated the law … ” and he went on to sentence Rodriquez to six months in prison (the minimum under federal guidelines), plus three years probation (if for some reason he isn’t deported), and no fines (because of the defendant’s inability to pay).
“If you come back across the border and I’m still a judge here, I will deal with you harshly,” Downes warned.
As he concluded the hearing, the judge put in a recommendation that the Bureau of Prisons place Rodriquez in a facility close to the border with Chihuahua, and then wished Rodriguez well in finding work, along with a good future, in his home state.
Perhaps it was simply a reminder of what he had said earlier in the proceedings, “You didn’t hurt anyone, you came here to work.”
Guatemalan relatives to join Postville Agriprocessors workers
BY TONY LEYS • TLEYS@DMREG.COM • NOVEMBER 26, 2010
More than two dozen Guatemalans are scheduled to arrive soon in Postville, where they will join relatives who helped investigators after a 2008 immigration raid.
Most of the newcomers are children whose mothers used to work at Postville's Agriprocessors meatpacking plant. A few are the siblings or parents of former child workers.
Sonia Parras Konrad, a Des Moines immigration lawyer who represents many of the families, said 28 Guatemalans are expected to arrive in the northeast Iowa town Dec. 4. She said most are the children of women who obtained "U-visas" for cooperating with investigators. The women had to demonstrate they were victims of crimes, such as sexual assaults, that left them with serious physical or mental injuries.
A U-visa allows an immigrant to stay in the United States four years and to seek a longer stay if the immigrant can show returning to her home country would seriously harm herself and a child who is a U.S. citizen, Parras Konrad said. "It is very complicated and hard to get," she said.
The Postville immigration raid was one of the largest ever at a single U.S. plant. Hundreds of immigrant workers, mainly Guatemalans and Mexicans, were arrested on identity-theft charges for using false immigration papers. Most of them pleaded guilty to reduced charges, served five months in prison, then were deported. But more than 40 were granted U-visas for cooperating with investigators.
Decorah-area churches helped raise money for loans for airfare from Guatemala to Chicago. The churches also arranged for a bus to carry the immigrants from Chicago to Postville.
David Vasquez, a Luther College pastor who has helped organize assistance for the workers, said many of the women have not seen their children in years. "Now they have the opportunity to live out their dreams and support their families," he said.
Vasquez said that when the raid happened, he could not have predicted a good outcome for any of the former Agriprocessors workers. Most were hustled through mass court proceedings, in which they were pressured into pleading guilty, he said. "An essential piece of our law is that individual cases be looked at individually."
Parras Konrad persuaded authorities to look more carefully at some of the cases, he said, and the authorities decided the immigrants deserved to stay.
Parras Konrad said most of the women still live in Postville and hope to become U.S. citizens. They work in various jobs, including housecleaning and child care. A few have returned to the packing plant, now under new ownership and called Agri Star.
Parras Konrad said the women were routinely mistreated under the old owners. "They have seen a huge difference in before and after," she said. For example, she said, the women now receive meal breaks and may stay home if they're sick.
Only a few cases reach court in stolen ID investigations
By VICKY TAYLOR Staff writer
Posted: 11/26/2010 11:51:29 PM EST
Chambersburg Police Department detectives filed charges this year against at least 10 people using stolen or forged identity documents to live and work here, but only a few of those cases have reached the county court level.
Borough police have been involved in an ongoing investigation into the sale of Puerto Rican identity documents, forged Social Security cards, and permanent resident alien cards -- identifying and charging a number of people.
Many simply failed to show up for court.
Those that did show up have reached various stages in the criminal justice system.
An U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer has been placed on one Mexican national arrested this month for using stolen or forged identity documents. Police had been looking for him since January.
The detainer issued by ICE will keep Jorge Saul Garcia-Arguello, 36, at Franklin County Jail until his local case makes its way through the Court of Common Pleas. He is charged with identity theft for allegedly using a Puerto Rican Social Security card belonging to someone else to get work at Benshoff Fence Inc. in Chambersburg.
Garcia-Arguello's case is expected to quickly make its way through the local judicial system. His formal arraignment on the identity theft charge, a first-degree misdemeanor, is set for Dec. 8, compared to the January arraignments set in most cases heard in Magisterial District Central Court this week.
Once his case is settled, Garcia-Arguello will be turned over to ICE to begin deportation hearings. Meanwhile, he is being held on $25,000 bail.
One member of a family identified as a Mexican national using the name and Social Security number of a Puerto Rican woman was sentenced to probation by a Franklin County judge on Wednesday.
It is unknown if Yolanda Zamorano-Perez, 40, will be detained by ICE for deportation proceedings. Identity theft charges were filed against her on Aug. 19. She was released on $25,000 unsecured bail on Aug. 23.
She showed up for her preliminary hearing on Aug. 31, and her formal arraignment September 14. She pleaded guilty to the identity theft charge on Oct. 13 and was handed the probation sentence by Judge Richard Walsh on Wednesday.
Several of her relatives did not show up for their scheduled court hearings, however.
Cases are still pending on the magisterial court level against three other relatives:
- Ana Marie Zamorano-Perez, 33, one count of identity theft. The charge was withdrawn during a preliminary hearing Aug. 31.
- Armando Zamorano-Perez, 21, arrested Aug. 20 on an identity theft charge. He had a preliminary hearing Oct. 5 and a formal arraignment last week.
-Ema Zamorano-Perez, who was arrested Aug. 23 and charged with two counts of identity theft, then released on unsecured bail. That bail was revoked when she didn't show up for a preliminary hearing Aug. 31. She is still at large.
- Manuel Hernandez-Lopez on July 27, who is charged with two counts of misdemeanor identity theft. An arrest warrant was issued, but police were unable to find him.
Cases are also pending in magisterial court against two members of an unrelated family, Sandra Arana Corado-Asencio, 25, and Maria Corado-Asencio, whose age is not listed in court documents. The two women are from Guatemala.
Identity theft charges were filed against Maria Corado-Asencio on July 1. Charges were filed against her niece, Sandra Corado-Asencio on Aug. 6.
Authorities have not located either woman to serve them with the citations filed with Magisterial District Judge Gary Carter in Chambersburg.
Another immigrant currently in the process of being deported by ICE was on Wednesday's court list for a disposition hearing.
Pedro Cano Urbano, 40, who had been living in Fayetteville when he was arrested on three identity theft and three forgery charges in March, is accused of using several names and obtaining numerous forged identity documents while living in Franklin County.
In S.D., deportations are few
But supporters call illegal immigration initiative effective
JOHN HULT • JHULT@ARGUSLEADER.COM • NOVEMBER 28, 2010
An effort to find and remove illegal immigrants with criminal records from South Dakota has led to the deportation of five people in its first five months.
The five are among a larger group of 3,127 immigrants removed from South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and North Dakota so far in 2010.
The Secure Communities Initiative asks jailers to send the fingerprints of every new inmate through a federal database to quickly identify illegal immigrants most likely to pose a danger to the community.
Minnehaha and Pennington counties joined June 22. Custer, Fall River and Jackson counties soon followed.
Of the almost 4,500 sets of prints scanned since then, only 12 have prompted action by a response from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Some South Dakota lawmakers say the small return from the ICE program is further proof that the federal government's strategies are ineffective. They say a set of Arizona-style state laws punishing illegal immigrants and anyone who offers them a job, a home or transportation could force the hand of Washington, D.C.
Others see the numbers as a sign that South Dakota's immigration issues aren't pressing enough for a law that could fill state jails with international offenders and draw costly legal challenges.
Feeding A Growing Distrust
Victim's advocates fear that programs such as Secure Communities and laws such as Arizona's do little but foment distrust between law enforcement and minorities.
For Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead, who signed off on the fingerprint checks this summer at ICE's request, deportations never were meant to be the measure of the program's success.
Secure Communities, he said, is simply a way to foster communication between frustrated agencies tasked with tackling a problem that has grown larger than the laws written to deal with it.
"Whether it's one or it's 100, the key is that there's a mechanism in place to link us together," Milstead said. "I think many Americans realize that our current laws and current enforcement are marginal at best."
No Drawbacks, Sheriff Says
Milstead didn't expect huge numbers. Realistically, the program is designed to catch people who already have been caught at least once.
"Most people who are here illegally are not going to have their fingerprints in a database," he said.
Still, he said, there was no reason not to join the program. Signing up is free and gives ICE a chance to catch the worst of the worst.
Before Secure Communities, new prints were checked only against the Federal Bureau of Investigation's criminal database. Now, the prints go there and to the Department of Homeland Security, ICE's parent agency.
Immigration officers get a notice every time the system detects a previously-convicted criminal or possible illegal immigrant.
It's up to ICE to decide what to do after that. The agency does not and cannot pursue everyone, ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said. Not every crime is a deportable offense under federal law.
A drug conviction involving narcotics qualifies a person for deportation, for example. A drug conviction involving an ounce or less of marijuana is not.
Simply being in the country illegally doesn't catch ICE's attention.
"That's why we try to focus on those violent offenders," Neudauer said.
ICE wants every county jail in the nation to join Secure Communities. Since it began in 2008, 788 jurisdictions in 34 states have signed up.
Neudauer also was not surprised at the number of deportations in South Dakota. Three counties in Montana signed up on July 27, and ICE has not detained or deported anyone.
"It takes time for these cases to move through the system," he said.
Not Time-Consuming Cases
U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson has one experienced prosecutor for immigration cases in each of his three offices. They deal with felony cases of illegal reentry after deportation, most of which originate through ICE investigations.
Immigration judges generally deal with nonfelony deportations.
The number of felony cases in South Dakota has fluctuated but held relatively steady for the past 10 years, even as the foreign-born population has more than doubled in some parts of the state.
Such cases amount to 15 percent to 18 percent of Johnson's caseload. ICE can send as many as they find, Johnson said, because cases often are open-and-shut affairs with clear proof of re-entry.
"These cases are not very time-consuming," Johnson said. "We have plenty of resources that have been allocated to us."
Counties pass court information along to ICE as well. Minnehaha County State's Attorney Aaron McGowan has opened 25 cases for possession of a forged instrument, a crime that most often refers to a fake Social Security card used by an illegal immigrant.
State prosecutors dismiss those cases if the defendant is taken into ICE custody.
"If they're going to be deported and we can save some tax dollars on that ... we're going to work with federal authorities," McGowan said.
Six of the 25 county forged instrument cases have been dismissed so far, McGowan said, while eight people have pleaded or been found guilty and 11 cases are still open.
Federal Policies Criticized
McGowan, like Milstead and Johnson, said ICE officers in South Dakota are accessible and easy to work with. Because Secure Communities makes it easy to trade information, they all support the program.
So do state Rep. Manny Steele and state Sen. Craig Tieszen. However, they think policies at the federal level limit ICE officers and let too many immigrants free.
Nationwide, concerns about civil liberties have cropped up through Secure Communities. But law officers here and elsewhere say the program is necessary to deal with problems caused by insecure borders.
Mitchell's Salgado Case
South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley points to the killing of 16-year-old Mitchell High School student Jasmine Guevara by Alexander Salgado as an example of such problems.
Salgado is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for his part in Guevara's November 2009 murder. She burned to death in the trunk of her own car in rural Hanson County after being stabbed repeatedly by Salgado and his 15-year-old girlfriend.
Both Salgado and his 15-year-old girlfriend were in the U.S. illegally.
"He shouldn't have even been here, and he ended up killing a little girl," Jackley said.
Milstead said he thinks the coming immigration debate in the legislatures of South Dakota and almost two dozen other states "scratches the surface" of the national immigration reform voters want.
For law enforcement, especially in smaller communities without the easy access Milstead has to ICE officers, there can be disappointment. Officers can collect evidence on illegal immigrants, but in the end, local agencies must rely on ICE.
"We have a marginal ability to act in these situations," Milstead said.
For Huron Police Chief Doug Schmitt, the frustration has translated into inaction.
In many cases, "if we encounter someone we know to be in the country illegally, we can pick them up but ICE won't come get them," he said. "It's frustrating, at best."