Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Deportation splits family (The Spectrum)

Deportation splits family
Cedar City businessman sent away; wife, 5 kids left without income

Nur Kausar
9:09 AM, Sep. 7, 2011

A two-day fugitive operation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement went smoothly for the agency in Southern Utah last month, but it also painfully disrupted the livelihood of at least one family that is now trying its hardest to reunite.

ICE Fugitive Operations officers arrested Augusto Raymundo Jesus, 38, at his Cedar City home in front of his wife, Kacie, and five children, leaving them without a breadwinner. Jesus was deported Aug. 30 to Guatemala, returning to the country he left 22 years ago.

According to the ICE website, Fugitive Operations Teams like the one in Southern Utah last month started in 2003 to dramatically expand the agencys efforts to locate, arrest and remove fugitives from the United States. ICE officers arrested 18 others during the two-day blitz. Nine had prior criminal convictions, and 13 had outstanding orders of removal from the country.

Jesus had both, making him a priority when the operation occurred, said Virginia Kice, ICE western regional communications director and spokesperson.

Kacie says ICE should have taken a case-by-case approach to the arrests, as her husband had a family to take care of, ran a contracting business, paid his taxes, hired employees and obeyed all laws in the 13 years she knew him.

"While we both believe in obeying the laws it is inhumane and cruel to just take a father and husband away unannounced when he is the sole support to (six) American citizens," Kacie said in a message. "The government now has to support Rays family (us). There are a lot of bad illegals here that need to be deported, not Ray. This is not a smart solution for this problem."

However, according to ICE, Jesus did not obey the law before he got married in 2001, and it came back to bite him.

In 1993, an immigration judge in San Diego found that Jesus had no legal basis to remain in the United States and gave him 90 days to leave the country, Kice said.

Jesus appealed the judges decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals, and in 1998, the board upheld the lower courts decision and gave Jesus 30 days to voluntarily depart, she said. "When he failed to do so, he became subject to a final order of removal."

Misdemeanor convictions, including two DUIs, did not help his case, and now Jesus options might be to wait until he is eligible to apply for legal entry to the United States or for his children to sponsor him when one turns 21 Ñ in 10 years.

Kacie said her husband never received the boards notice to her knowledge, and Jesus was under the impression that he could remain here legally until 2004.

Kacie noted she and Jesus tried to seek citizenship for him in 2004 but were told by an attorney that because of his order for removal, Jesus would have to leave the United States for one year, return to Guatemala, apply to return and still only have a 50 percent chance of being allowed back in.

"Hes a good guy. He wouldnt just up and leave his wife and kids," Kacie said, so he stayed, hoping the laws would change and not punish him for his decision to support his family.

Unfortunately, said advocate Luis Espinoza Munoz with Community Aid and Immigrant Services, thats not how the current laws work.

"You have to put all your ducks in a row," Espinoza said. "The nice thing is all the rules are written down, but its cut and dry. And many times, my clients have no idea what to do."

That may have been the case here, Espinoza said, as is with many cases he sees as an immigration advocate for 16 years.

The other problem, Espinoza noted, is the inefficiency of the immigration system. Attorneys sometimes charge upwards of $40,000, unrealistic for some immigrants, and the process itself could take years.

With Jesus criminal record, even if from a distant past, time and money will be needed before he could be reunited with his family.

For now, Kacie said she is in the process of looking for an attorney and for somewhere to live because she is losing her home and is trying to sell her husbands truck. She has not worked in 12 years and stays at home with her children that range in age from 6 months old to 11 years. The couple has an autistic son who requires much of her attention, she said.

Of Jesus, Kacie said, "Hes a mess. He misses his kids. Hes in shock because he has only the clothes on his back."

Jesus reunited with his parents in Guatemala and talks to his wife approximately once a week.

His Cedar City business, Rays Quality Framing, will have to close because his contractor license is up for renewal in November, but he isnt here to renew and employees are already finding other employment, she said.

The Ray Jesus Legal Defense Fund has been set up at State Bank of Utah to help the family with expenses. Donations are accepted at any branch.