Tag Archives: ICE

The Shameless Exploitation of A Tragedy In San Francisco


Crossposted from Medium

Photo Credit: NDLON

Photo Credit: NDLON

The tragic death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, allegedly at the hands of an undocumented immigrant, has conservatives gleefully trying to vilify all immigrants as criminals, and liberal politicians scrambling for cover by trying to roll back hard-fought local sanctuary city protections that keep immigrant families together.

The mainstream media is leaving virtually no stone unturned in trying to turn Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, the alleged shooter, into the new Willie Horton even while all facts suggest that the fatal shooting was unintentional, and that sanctuary city policies have little to do with why Juan Lopez was still living in the United States even after being deported five times.

ICE could have deported Juan Carlos while he was in federal custody without any sort of removal proceedings; instead the agency turned him over to San Francisco to senselessly prosecute a 20 year old drug offense.

No one seems to be talking about the fact that the zealous desire to prosecute individuals for decades old low-level drug offenses seems to have played a large part in how the alleged shooter was transferred from federal ICE custody to officials in San Francisco.

News reports indicate that Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez had been deported previously five times. That made it easy to reinstate a previous order of removal and deport him from the United States after he had served his last sentence, and as everyone knows, ICE deports mothers, fathers and children quite easily even when they have a right to stay in the United States. However, instead of removing him to Mexico after 46 months in federal custody, the Bureau of Prisons reportedly turned him over to San Francisco to prosecute him for a 1995 low-level drug offense.

At a time when most jurisdictions are increasingly moving away from prosecuting low-level drug offenses, and even the federal government has indicated a desire to bury the war on drugs, it is mind-boggling that Juan was handed over to San Francisco for a 1995 outstanding charge for marijuana. It comes as no surprise that a local court dismissed the outstanding charge against Sanchez, and he was released from custody.

The shooting seems to lack premeditation.

Juan Lopez does not have a record of violent behavior. At worst, his extensive list of felonies for low-level drug offenses means he seemed to have a problem with drug addiction and abuse. Juan Lopez professes to have found a gun, registered to a federal agent, and accidentally shooting at the victim in this case, probably while he was under the influence. There is absolutely no record of violent crimes, let alone gun-related crimes, in his record. So there is no reason to doubt what he has confessed thus far — that the fatal shooting was an accident.

Why are politicians so bent on using this tragedy as a way to punish all San Franciscans by blowing it out of proportion? It’s easier to vilify and lay blame for a tragedy than find compassion and closure to move forward. If the best case against sanctuary cities and no detainer policies is that people can accidentally find guns on public park benches and fire them just as easily, perhaps those decrying such policies should focus their efforts elsewhere.

Which leads me to my next point: Why is it so easy to find and shoot a gun?

While records are still hazy, we know for a fact that the gun used in the shooting did not belong to Juan Lopez. It is registered to a federal agent with the Bureau of Land Management. How did Juan Lopez manage to get his hands on the gun belonging to a federal agent, and pull the trigger?

If was an accident like he claims, anyone, legally here or not, could have committed it, and it is wholly irrelevant that San Francisco has a sanctuary city policy. Instead of asking why Juan Lopez is still in the country, perhaps we should be asking why it is so easy to own, and fire a gun?

Handing Juan Carlos to ICE without a warrant would have exposed San Francisco to civil liabilities

A federal government request to detain an individual is not a judicial warrant, and carries no mandatory legal authority. Federal judges have actually found such ICE detainers to be unconstitutional. San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has stated that he would have given Juan Carlos back to ICE if it had issued a warrant to detain him. The jurisdiction would be liable if it honored a faxed request or phone call to detain Sanchez for longer than necessary, rather than judicial warrant to hold him, so San Francisco was legally obligated to release him.

Given that Juan Carlos had no record of violent crime convictions, his subsequent release and implication in a fatal shooting was hardly foreseeable.

This policy of abiding by the spirit and letter of the law, has little to do with the fact that San Francisco is a sanctuary city where immigrant families can live safely. Many jurisdictions, conservative or liberal, are increasingly afraid to abide by ICE detainers, because it would subject them to lawsuits.

Quite often, when wrongly accused and likened to criminals in the mainstream media, our knee-jerk reaction is to show study after study that says immigrants commit less crimes than our U.S. born counterparts.

Now let me be clear that the numbers do seem to suggest that the number of immigrants and crime rates are inversely related. But this analysis throws incarcerated black men under the bus, rather than question the myriad of ways in which black and brown people are turned into criminals. The share of non-citizens who make up defendants in the federal criminal system has grown disproportionately in the past decade.

Many of the convictions levied against Juan Lopez were for low level drug offenses and illegal re-entry. Criminal convictions for re-entrying the country without authorization to be with our family members, or making a false claim to citizenship in order to provide a home for our children or loitering on public street corners in order to find a job, is turning immigrants into criminals faster than we can proclaim that not all immigrants are not criminals. Moreover, citizenship status is now the most salient factor in determining sentencing outcomes in criminal court. We may not be behind bars at the rates that black men are incarcerated, but we do get punished more harshly than our U.S.-born counterparts by virtue of our immigration status.

Perhaps advocacy efforts and resources should go towards reversing these troubling trends, and questioning how immigration enforcement continues to mine a questionable criminal justice system for people to deport, rather than making anti-black proclamations decrying immigrant criminality, and blowing a tragedy out of proportion in order to score cheap political points.

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ICE Releases Woefully Inadequate Transgender Guidance

Crossposted from Medium – Advancing Justice | AAJC

Photo Credit: NDLON

Photo Credit: NDLON

Responding to grassroots pressure from advocates, and mounting criticismfrom congressional leaders such as Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unveiled an 18-page memorandum for the care of transgender immigrants in detention this week.

While these guidelines are a step in the right direction and long overdue, it’s still not enough and here’s why:

1. Detention of vulnerable immigrants is inherently inhumane: The new guidance does nothing to move us away from the prolonged detention of transgender individuals, the vast majority of whom are asylum seekers who have already faced persecution in their home countries, only to be subjected to further pain and suffering at the hands of ICE. Detaining asylum seekers is inhumane, re-traumatizes some of the most vulnerable immigrants and it is contrary to our laws when detention is used as a form of deterrence to dissuade people from coming to the United States. Advocates have repeatedly called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to release such detainees once they have proven that their fear of persecution is credible. Officials should act to end the practice of detaining such individuals, as there is no mending it.

2. The new guidance provides inadequate care and housing options: The guidance continues to allow practices that have been denounced as inhumane, such as administrative segregation, ‘protective custody’ and isolated pods for transgender detainees. ICE detains 75 transgender immigrants on average, which is less than one percent of the detainee population, but over 20 percent of sexual assault cases in immigrant detention involve a transgender survivor. Alternative housing practices havefailed to protect transgender immigrants in detention from sexual assault and physical abuse in the past, and should not be used when releasing such detainees on bond or parole is a much more humane and cheaper alternative.

3. No guidelines for the treatment of vulnerable immigrants such as lesbian, gay and bisexual asylum seekers: Many individuals seeking asylum in the United States are detained upon arriving at a port of entry. Many of them, including lesbians, gays and bisexuals, have suffered severe persecution in their home countries. A recent Center for American Progress report shows that ICE routinely detains LGBT immigrants who it knows are at great risk and should not be behind bars. A disproportionate number of undocumented LGBT individuals are Asian American. The new guidelines do nothing to recognize that these individuals, who may have suffered sexual assault and torture in their home countries, remain vulnerable in immigrant detention and should be released.

4. No guidelines for dealing with sexual assault and abuse in detention:Transgender immigrants in ICE custody face extremely harsh conditions such as alarming rates of sexual assault, physical abuse and harassment. While housing them according to their gender identity may reduce some of the violence transgender detainees face, the guidelines provide no mechanism for reporting ongoing violence. Forty percent of sexual assault cases in detention are unreported, and the guidelines contain no mention of how transgender immigrants can report assault, or any measures to protect transgender immigrants from such assault.

5. No enforcement mechanism — The ICE ERO working group that crafted this guidance worked hard to meet with transgender detainees and try to ascertain best practices for the detention of transgender individuals in custody. However, without a grievance mechanism, the guidance may be tough to enforce at all facilities.

We strongly urge the ICE ERO working group to consider alternatives to detention for LGBT and other vulnerable immigrants in detention.

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NIYA Youth Infiltrate Broward Detention Center

Over the course of the last month, as the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, we have been working hard to infiltrate into select detention centers around the country to see what is really happening.

On June 17th, 2011, President Obama, through ICE director John Morton, issued a memorandum outlining his administration’s enforcement priorities. These priorities specifically called for the use of discretion in many low-priority deportation cases. Just like many other promises by this administration, our organizers inside of the detention center have discovered that the Obama Administration is still deporting the same people it promises not to deport.

Our organizers have seen first hand countless cases of:

— DREAM Act eligible youth;
— Individuals with no criminal record;
— Individuals clearly detained because of racial profiling tactics used by police and border patrol, including the detention of passengers in vehicles;
— Individuals with pending U visa / VAWA applications;
— Individuals with extreme medical conditions.

Therefore, we are asking for a full and complete review of each detainee at the Broward Detention center and that all low-priority detainees immediately be released and their cases administratively closed

You can sign the national petition here.



Felipe Garcia, originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida for over 13 years.On April 26, 2012, Felipe was detained dropping off his wheelchair bound son at school, after leaving the parking lot he was pulled over by an officer without any reason. The police officer called ICE on the spot and Felipe was taken directly to Broward. Felipe has never been in trouble with anyone.http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/felipe/

Hugo Castro, originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida for 7 years. on June 21st the car Hugo was a passenger in was pulled over for running a yellow light and he was detained. Hugo has never been in trouble with anyone and is a complete low-priority deportation. http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/hugo

Cesar Hidalgo, originally from Ecuador, has been living in Florida for over 20 years. Hidalgo is 52, he has two children, both green card holders, aged 30 and 25. Earlier this summer Hidalgo was detained by ICE after hotel security called police while he was passing out flyers. He has never been in trouble with anyone. http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/hidalgo

Katealyli Paboje, originally from Honduras, has been living in Florida for 12 years. Katealyli was detained in early July, 2012, after she accepted a check as payment that had no funds. She had no idea the check would bounce, yet she was detained in jail for one night and ordered to do community service. She was soon thereafter detained by ICE.

Angel Raimundo, originally from Guatemala, has been living in Florida for 7 years.Angel was detained on May 11th for calling the police for help when he was being followed by two men. Not being able to speak english the police thought he was playing a prank on them. He has been detained since and has never been in trouble with anyone.

Leandro Cecilio, (A#205-014-4260) originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida for over 15 years. Leandro has never been in trouble with the police, he was told he rolled a stop sign and so he was detained. He has been detained at Broward since June of 2012.

Daniel Castro, originally from the Dominican Republic, has been living in Florida for more than 10 years. Daniel has been detained for no reason other than profiling, he was waiting for the bus when ICE stopped and snatched him up.He has never been in trouble with the law.

Jose Luis Vasquez, originally from Honduras, has been living in Florida for over 8 years. Jose is another victim of being nothing more than a passenger in a vehicle. His friend was pulled over after their tail-light went out on the turn pike, all 4 passengers were detained by ICE. Jose has never had any trouble with anyone.

Guilbert Mosqueda, (A# 205-128-731) originally from Costa Rica, Guilbert has been living in Florida for 2 years. Guilbert was detained when his boss’ car was pulled over and, as a passenger, he was asked for identification. He’s been at Broward since July 5th!

Milton Perez, originally from Guatemala, has been living in Florida for over 5 years. Milton was detained on July 5th for apparently rolling a stop sign, the officer discovered he had no license. Milton has never been in trouble with the police, in fact he owns his own Mechanic shop. Milton has been detained since July 5th.

Jaime Pena, originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida for over 18 years. Jaime has never been in trouble with anyone, in fact he was detained for merely being a passenger in a car. Jaime does not know why the car was pulled over, the police officer wouldn’t give them a reason. Jaime has been detained since May of 2012.

Ever Gonzalez, originally from Guatemala, has lived in Florida ever since he was 15 years old. Ever is a DREAM Act eligible student, he has requested GED coursework while in detention. Ever was detained for driving without a license, he has been inside of Broward since July 1st, 2012, two weeks after President Obama issued the deferred action memo.

Marco Moss, originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida since he was 15-years old. Marco is DREAM Act eligible, he had scheduled taking his GED two-months after he was detained. Marco has been detained since July 2nd for driving without a license.

Delman Matute, originally from Honduras, has been living in Florida since he was 14-years old. Delman is DREAM Act eligible, yet he has been detained since July 12th, 2012. Delman was profiled while he was driving home from work at 2:00am. He was found to have no license.

Roberto Francisco, originally from Guatemala, has been living in Florida since he was 11-years old. Roberto was detained on June 16th on his way to church to sing in the choir. Roberto, DREAM Act eligible, was detained the day after President Obama promised to stop deporting DREAMers.http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/roberto/

Hugo Armando Sanchez-Olvera, originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida for 15 years. Hugo is a DREAM Act student, he has been detained since January, 2012. Hugo was arrested once before for a DUI, however it does not make him in-eligible for the deferred action as laid out by president Obama.

Juan Carlos Amador, originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida since he was 15 years old. Juan was pulled over in June of 2012 for not using his signals, he has been detained at Broward ever since. Juan is DREAM Act eligible.http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/amador/

Hilario Vazquez, originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida for 11 years.Hilario wass detained in June of 2012 for nothing more than driving without a license. He has been detained since and has been forced to sign voluntary departure. Hilario has never been in trouble, not so much as a traffic ticket.

Antonio Molina Barradona, originally from El Salvador, has been living in Florida for 11 years. Antonio was detained on May 24th after the driver of the car he was riding in was involved in a minor accident. Antonio was only the passenger and yet he was still detained.

Hugo Mello, originally from Uruguay, has been living in Florida for 10-years. Hugo was profiled by ICE, he was randomly detained as he was leaving Home Depot.He has been detained at Broward since April of 2012.

Julio Pineda blanco, originally from Mexico, has lived in Florida for 7 years. On April 25th Julio was profiled and pulled over by an officer demanding to see his license. Julio has been at Broward ever since. A year ago Julio’s brother was killed in Mexico, he fears being deported and killed.http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/blanco/

Mohammed Sooknanan, originally from Guyana, has been detained since December 6th, 2011, over 9 months! Mohammed has no criminal record, he was detained for driving with an expired tag. Mohammed’s marriage application is pending, he has never been deported before and is not a flight risk yet Judge Rex refuses to release him. http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/mohammed/

Guillermo Hernandez, originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida for the past 10 years. Guillermo’s wife just gave birth to his 3-month pre-mature child who is now suffering serious heart problems. Guillermo has no criminal record and needs to be released immediately.

Maria Leon, originally from Venezuela, has been living in Florida for over 5 years. Maria is married to a United States citizen, her marriage application has already been approved and her interview is supposed to be on Wednesday, July 25th, however ICE still refuses to release her. While living in Venezuela Maria worked as a flight attendant on the presidential plane, she worked for President Chavez.http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/maria/
Juan Bonilla: originally from Honduras, has been living in the United States for 12 years now. Juan fled Honduras, at the threat of gangs, when he was just 16. Juan was detained on June 5th as he was moving from Arkansas to Florida to provide a better life for his wife and 1-year old son.http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/bonilla/

Leobardo Benitez, originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida for 13 years. Leobardo was profiled on July 15th, he was pulled over without breaking a single law, the officer stated he knew Leobardo didn’t have a license. Leobardo was only 18 when he migrated to Florida. Despite a clean record he is set to be deported on August 6th. http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/leobardo/

Miguel Angel Salinas, originally from El Salvador, has been living in Florida for 8 years. In 2010 Miguel was deported while driving to the store to buy medicine for his sick wife. Miguel returned to Florida to provide for his family, however in April of this year he was again detained after a police officer profiled him to find he didn’t have a license. Miguel’s son has become withdrawn and misses his father dearly. http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/miguelangel

Felix Padilla, originally from Honduras, has been living in Florida for over 20 years. In 1994 Felix was deported through a work-raid but had to return to feed his family. In June of 2012 Felix’s brother, a public official in Honduras was murdered. If deported Felix worries he too will be killed. In June Felix was profiled and detained despite having a valid Maryland drivers license! Felix is the sole provider for his parents and sisters children in Honduras.http://action.dreamactivist.org/maryland/felix/

Omar Gaspar Ramirez, originally from Guatemala, has been living in Florida for over 12 years. Despite no criminal record Omar has spent the last 9-months in detention at Broward. In November Omar was profiled by local police and found to have no license. Omar’s 10-year old son suffers from Asthma and has hearing problems. http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/omar/

Luis Villanueva, originally from Mexico, has been living in the United States for over 10 years. Luis has no criminal record and yet he has been detained inside of the detention center since before Thanksgiving (November 7th, 2011)! Luis is a day laborer, he was picked up in front of Home Depot without being given any warning or anything. Luis’ father was murdered and he is currently being sought out by the same people. http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/luis/

Bernardo Beade, originally from Argentina, has been living in Florida for the past 12 years. Bernardo turned himself into ICE in March of 2012, however since he has learned he would qualify for a U-visa and is fighting his removal.

Samuel Lopez: originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida for over 20 years. On July 10th, without reason, Samuel was pulled over by border patrol and sent to the detention center. Samuel’s legal options are limited as he had fallen prey to a notary public who had mis-handled his previous case. Samuel’s 3 kids miss him terribly.http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/lopez/

Victor Hernandez: originally from El Salvador, has been living in Florida for 20 years. Victor came to the U.S. fleeing the war and in hopes of earning money to send back to his father who had been incapacitated. Victor filed for asylum, however had no idea he had been ordered removed. Victor has been detained since May 8th, 2011. His now 13-year old daughter is suffering from depression.

Samuel Soto, originally from Honduras, has been living in Florida for over 14 years. He has four children who miss him very much, all four of his kids are currently undergoing therapy because of their fathers detention. Samuel has only been pulled over for driving without a license. Samuel’s daughter, Eda, is having surgery on her left ear on August 8th. Samuel has been detained since May 16th, 2012. http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/samuel/

Junior Harriot, originally from Jamaica, has been living in the United States for over 18 years. Junior was once deported in 2011. In 2001 Junior was shot in the back during an attempted robbery, the bullet is still lodged in his lumbar spine.Because of his injury and lack of medical attention in detention he now has a clot in his knee, he cannot feel his right knee as it is numb. Doctors at the detention center refuse to allow him a cane, stating ‘your leg needs exercise.’ Junior could die or become handicap for life any day now because of his injuries and lack of access to proper medical care.

Carlos Castaneda, originally from Columbia, has been living in the United States for over 12 years. On May 9th, 2012, while driving a U-haul truck with his families belongings, Carlos was pulled over for no apparent reason. It was ICE, they detained him for a prior removal order and he has been at Broward ever since. Carlos has no criminal record, in fact both his 16 and 22 year old daughters are undergoing therapy and need their father home.

Cesar Leon: originally from Venezuela has been living in Florida for over 13 years. Cesar has been detained since April 20th, 2012. Cesar has no criminal record, he was detained after his asylum case was rejected. ICE has already attempted to put Cesar on a plane once, his time is running out.http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/cesar/

Alberto Rodriguez, originally from Honduras, has been living in Florida for the past 12 years. He moved to Florida after Hurricane Mitch devastated everything his family owned. Alberto was detained on April 10th because of a previous deportation order. Alberto has 9 grand kids who miss him dearly. Alberto fears being returned to Honduras as several members of his family have already been killed. http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/alberto/

Maulilio Mendez, originally from Guatemala, has lived in Florida for the past 10 years. In February, on his way to church, Maulilio was the victim of a car accident, instead of receiving care he was arrested and has been detained since. Maulilio has 4 children and is about to miss the birth of his 5th child.http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/maulilio/

Agustin Morales, originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida for the past 11 years. Agustin is married and has two United States citizen children. In 1996 he was ordered removed, however had to come back in order to provide for his family. Agustin has no criminal record and is not a priority for removal. He was detained in May of 2012 due to an attorney mis-handling his case.

Macario Gonzalez, originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida for 11 years. Macario has a previous DUI from 2002 that has been taken care of, he is otherwise clean. In December of 2011, 9 months ago, Macario was profiled by a police officer who continually changed the reason for pulling him over. At the end he found Macario had no license and detained him. Macario has 7 children who desperately need their father back.

Maximino Hoz: originally from Mexico, has been living in Flordia for over 19 years. He has 6 children who miss him and want him home. Maximino’s 9-year old son has been diagnosed with depression because of his dad’s detention since December of 2011, over 9 months ago! In 2003 Maximino was charged with a DUI, however he took care of it, paid all of his fines and has never been in trouble since. http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/max/ >

Aurelio Rufino Rangel, originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida for over 22 years. On May 20th Aurelio was detained dropping a friend off at home, he was charged with a DUI. Aurelio suffers from Diabetes and Gualt and has had fainting spells in detention. Aurelio’s wife needs him home, she suffers from Diabetes, Arthritis in both hands, and is losing sight in her right eye, to the point where she has not been able to take her insulin shots for 2 1/2 months, since Aurelio was detained.

Benjamin Aguilar, originally from Guatemala, has been living in Florid for over 16 years. Benjamin made the mistake of walking outside of his home and was taken as ‘collateral’ by ICE agents looking for someone else. He was taken as ‘collateral’. Over 15 years ago Benjamin was charged with shoplifting. Benjamin has 6 children who need him and desperately miss him.

Isidro Saldana, originally from Mexico, has lived in Florida for 12 years. Isidro had a DUI charge from a decade ago, otherwise a clean record. On November 11, 2011, he and three friends were profiled and pulled over. All four were detained and sent to Broward. Isidro has been detained for over 8 months!

Florencio Cruz, originally from El Salvador, has been living in Florid since he was 12 years old. Florencio is a DREAM Act eligible student, he has request GED coursework in detention. In 2008 Florencio was charged with a DUI, however he has taken care of that and is otherwise clean. Florencio has been detained at Broward since June 15th, the day President Obama issued his memo on deferred action for DREAMers.

Pascual Pedro Marcos, orginally from Guatemala, Pascual has been living in Florida for over 18 years, since he was just 19 years old. In 2009 Pascual was charged with DUI, however he took care of it and has an otherwise clean record. He now has two US citizen children, ages 7 and 2. Pascual’s 2-year-old son, Steven, was born with serious developmental issues. Steven has the developmental skills of a 3 month-old, and must wear a special helmet twenty-three hours a day to help shape his little head. He can only take off the helmet for bathing and for therapy purposes. Judge Rex Ford has twice denied Pascual’s bond stating he is a ‘danger to the community.’http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/pascual

Sergio de la Cruz, originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida for over 18 years. Sergio has two United States citizen children and a wife who miss him dearly. His oldest daughter is having some health problems and needs her father by her side. Sergio was profiled and found to have no license. In 2009 Sergio was charged with a DUI, however he paid his fines and took care of it.

Rogelio Rivera, originally from Mexico, has been living in the United States for the past 10 years. Rogelio has a previous DUI that he has taken care of, he was detained after a police officer profiled him by pulling him over for without reason. Once the officer discovered he had no license he was detained and taken to Broward. He is currently fighting his deportation on appeal.

PENDING U / T OR VAWA APPLICATION Laura Escobar, originally from Honduras, has been living in the United States for over 12 years. Escobar is charged with ‘Obstructing Justice’, however the police officer who charged her is currently being investigated by anti-corruption officers as he beat her. Laura is a victim!

Gelmino Turra, originally from Uruguay, has been living in Florida for over 13 years. In 2002 Gelmino was nearly murdered. He has since filed for a U-visa, given to victims of serious crimes, however Judge Rex Ford refuses to release him. Gelmino has been detained since December 19th, 2012. Gelmino’s 7-year old son has threatened suicide over his dad’s detention.http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/gelmino/

Luis de la Cruz, originally from the Dominican Republic, has been living in Florida for more than 10-years. Luis was profiled by a police officer, randomly pulled over to find he didn’t have a license. Luis has an active U-visa case and yet he’s been detained since April 5th, 2012!

Maurino Callejas, originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida for over 10 years. Maurino is currently applying for a U-visa due to some abuse he faced growing up, according to ICE anyone with a pending U-visa case is not a priority for detention. Maurino has been detained since June 1st, 2012.

Santos Gonzalez, originally from Honduras, Santos has been living in Florida for the past 8 years. Santos was detained in March of 2012 after having been fighting his deportation from when he first entered the United States. Santos has filed for a U-visa and it is pending, however ICE refuses to release him.

Bismarck Mejia, originally from the Dominican Republic, has been living in the United States for over 13 years. He has a loving wife and child in Pennsylvania where he was a successful business owner. In 2011 Bismarck was detained and deported after driving without his headlights on. He has since returned and has a pending VAWA application. According to ICE those with pending applications should not be detained. Let Bismarck go.http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/bismarck/

Pablicio and Regis, both from Brazil. Pablicia a DREAM Act eligible student was once deported in February of 2012 for driving without a license. Now both Pablicio and Regis are fighting to stay despite both being material witnesses in a human trafficking case. Both have a T-visa pending. ICE attempted to Deport Pablicio on July 16th.

Juan Carlos: originally from Mexico Juan had been living in the U.S. for over 20 years. He was detained at home when ICE came looking for a different person who no longer lived at that address. Juan was the sole provider for his family, not only taking care of his long-time girlfriend but also providing for his 3 siblings.After 6-months in detention and $30,000 in profit for the GEO detention group Juan was deported on Tuesday, July 24th.

Sofronio Garcia, originally from Mexico, had been living in Florida since he was 14. Sofronio was DREAM Act eligible, yet he was deported on July 27th, 2012.Sofronio contacted the Public Advocate’s office as instructed by the Obama administration’s deferred action policy, yet he was still deported.http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/sofronio

Virigilio Caranza, originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida for over 10 years. In January of 2012 Virigilio was detained by ICE while doing community service for a driving without a license charge. On July 24th Virigilio was deported. http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/virigilio

Jose Castro: originally from Honduras, has been living in Florida for the past 10 years. Jose was detained on the 4th of July on his way to church, he was just pulled over by Border Patrol without reason and taken directly to the Broward Detention Center. Jose’s brother, a gang member in Honduras, has already kidnapped his own father and has made death threats against Jose. Jose fears for his life if deported! Jose was deported on July 23rd, 2012.

Miguel Angel Amparo, originally from the Dominican Republic, has lived in Florida for over 10 years. On July 24th Miguel was deported. Miguel had no criminal record and in fact qualified for a U visa. Miguel was initially detained on his way to the store to pick up medicine for his wife.http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/miguel

Miguel Rodriguez, originally from Honduras, has been living in Florida for over 11 years. Miguel had an outstanding deportation order that led to his detention in March of 2012. Miguel has no criminal record and is otherwise eligible for low-priority status. Miguel was deported on July 30th, 2012.


Arlondo Felix Perez, originally from Guatemala, has been living in Florida for over 10 years. Arlondo was profiled and found to be driving without a license, he had been detained since May 9th. On July 27th Arlondo was released from the Broward detention center and is reunited with wife and 4 kids!http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/arlondo/

Luis Cardona, originally from Honduras, has been living in Florida for the past 6 years. On July 6th Luis was detained on his way to work, he was profiled and found to have no license. Luis has a month old child he has hardly seen, his partner of 5 years is struggling to make ends meet. Luis has no criminal record.http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/cardona

Charles Rodriguez, originally from Nicaragua, has been living in Florida for over 15 years. Charles has no criminal record, he’s been detained since May 9th, 2012. On July 25th Charles was released with a $5,000 bond!http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/charles/

Marcial Bautista-Paz, originally from Mexico, has been living in Florida since he was 14 years old. In February Marcial was detained for being in a park after hours. Despite being DREAM Act eligilbe Marcial was detained for a month and a half after Obama’s deferred action memo was issued. Marcial was released on July 27th. http://action.dreamactivist.org/florida/marcial/


Juan Solis Vazquez, originally from Guatemala, has been living in Florida since he was 14-years old. Juan is DREAM Act eligible, he has requested GED coursework in detention. Juan’s only record is a charge of petty theft, not something that makes him ineligible for discretion as laid out by President Obama. Juan’s Stay of Removal was rejected on July 25th.

Jose Matute and Roger Anael, originally from Honduras, both lived in Florida or 10 years. On June 23rd Jose and Roger were detained at the airport while waiting for their sister-in-law. Apparently they ‘looked suspicious.’ After having spent a month in detention both were finally released.

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“The Right Thing To Do”

Crossposted at Huffington Post

President Obama took a stand last Friday to stop deporting certain young people from the United States and allow them the right to live and work here. Behind his pronouncement was a simple idea – that deferred action for a certain class of young people was “the right thing to do.” But he didn’t arrive at this thought overnight. Undocumented youth organizers, who have been organizing for this change for more than a decade, were the real catalysts for this change.

No one person or organization deserves credit for a powerful movement that has spawned multiple locales and geographical archipelagos. Undocumented youth took to the streets, came out and proclaimed themselves as undocumented and unafraid, conducted civil disobedience actions in offices and ICE buildings and challenged the system at every turn. We were adamant that we are a part of America, not leaving and no longer willing to be ignored. We created social and political spaces, took politicians to task and stuck by our principles of holding both Republicans and Democrats accountable to immigrant communities. Every single person who came out of the shadows and worked on this campaign deserves to celebrate and give themselves a pat on the back.

But even after the announcement, many undocumented youth organizers continue to be skeptical and rightly so. After all, this is not an order from the President, who has deported over a million people. It is merely a memo from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, quite similar to the unsuccessful memo issued by John Morton last year, which resulted in a reprieve of only 1.5% of cases in deportation proceedings. Attorney Dave Bennion lays out the problems with the new memo, noting that those who are denied deferred action may still be subject to deportation proceedings and far too many people will be excluded for simply having a felony or misdemeanor, terms that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is choosing to define much more broadly in the implementation of this policy. Additionally, the fact that the process is highly discretionary means that there is no way to appeal even illegitimate denials.

However, if executed right, this new deferred action plan for a class of young undocumented people promises to be a pilot program for how the government would carry out the implementation of any future legalization program. It also raises questions as to why the federal government cannot grant the same relief to same-sex bi-national couples, many of whom have lived here for a long time and face separation from their homes and their U.S. citizen partners.

We have won a tiny victory – a simple reprieve – but the war is far from over. My own personal thoughts go out to everyone who has aged out, everyone the Obama Administration has deported ruthlessly, everyone who has grown tired of waiting for their life to begin and left us, and everyone who is still languishing in detention without hope. Additionally, undocumented youth do not live single-issue lives and immigration is not our only problem. We are personally affected by a slow economy, a pitiful healthcare system and an education system that leaves far too many of us behind, among a myriad of other issues.

In the meanwhile, I’m still fighting deportation proceedings–not just my own, but that of many worthy clients who come through the doors of America on a daily basis, yearning to live out their dreams. When the celebrations die down, I’ll still be here, fighting for their dreams. That is also, the right thing to do.

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Report Back From AILA On Secure Communities and the New Prosecutorial Discretion Memo

2_12_11 Immigrant Protest Against Secure Commu...

Image by openmediaboston via Flickr

At the Annual American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Conference in San Diego, I had the great pleasure of attending some Open Sessions with officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and Customs and Border Patrol.

Earlier, David Leopard, the outgoing AILA President, had given Assistant ICE Director John Morton a “Stop Secure Shattering Communities” button that Marty Rosenbluth and a few volunteers had passed around the room for the keynote session. Later, I also tried to hand some of the same buttons to other ICE officials at the open sessions, but they would not take it.

Secure Communities” is a program that allows state and local police to check the fingerprints of an individual they are booking into a jail against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration databases. If there is a “hit” in an immigration database, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is automatically notified, even if the person has not been convicted of a crime. In this context, a crime usually means driving without a license or “loitering.” ICE then uses the numbers of people ensnared through the flawed program to show how it has increased the deportation of “criminal aliens.”

The agency should revert to using existing programs that place post-conviction immigration detainers on serious offenders. It would decrease the burden on our backlogged immigration courts, keep most hard-working immigrant families together while allocating limited resources more efficiently to target those who commit real crimes. Instead, ICE announced some cosmetic changes to the program on Friday, heavily centered around making sure that victims of domestic violence don’t end up in removal proceedings. The new directive also creates an advisory commission to study the effects of S-Communities.

Immigration advocates bemoaned the news and I received angry text messages when AILA was quoted as welcoming the new changes in the Washington Post and New York Times. That’s good — it takes attention away from the Prosecutorial Discretion (PD) Memo that Assistant ICE Director John Morton released on the same day, which can be used to get deferred action for long-time residents, veterans and DREAM Act eligible students who end up in removal proceedings. Peter Vincent, the Principle Legal Advisor at ICE, asked lawyers to send requests for deferred action to the Office of the Chief Counsel. While people are free to gripe about the litany of immigration problems that remain unresolved, I would seriously suggest that everyone in deportation and with clients in deportation put the PD memo to good use.

Of course, the USCIS and CBP do not have any defined priorities so those who should be eligible for prosecutorial discretion will continue to be placed in removal. Advocates have to make the case for stopping deportation each time, which is a lot of work but most non-profits working on such campaigns are getting rewarded with foundation money for it. So it should not be so difficult or miraculous to stop deportations if they are done right.

Coming back to Secure Communities, ICE officials were pressed to show the legal basis for why local jurisdictions could not opt-out of the federal program. After all, if Secure Communities is a regulatory program imposed upon local and state jurisdictions, then it is constitutionally suspect. ICE Director John Morton had stated earlier that there is a “fundamental misconception about Secure Communities is that somehow the program involves an agreement by the state for the exercise of federal immigration authority.” Vincent also argued that the program does not even require local cooperation but upon the fingerprinting of a person in custody, the data is shared between two federal branches of government — the FBI and DHS. He also declared that local jurisdictions can choose to opt out of knowing what the linked FBI-DHS database says about the person held in custody, which is probably not advisable.

I suppose San Francisco has the right idea on how to get around S-Comm: release the undocumented immigrants who have only committed petty offenses. Forget about passing laws — that’s how it should be done.

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Spending X-Mas in Detention

Carl contacted DreamActivist through our contact form to share the story of his legal immigrant friend who was in detention. His point was that the system isn’t just broken for undocumented immigrants here but even for those who try to play by the rules and still end up getting burned.

I have cross-posted his story at Change.org and Promigrant.org and sent him an intake form, which he will fill with the help of his friend in detention. I also admire Carl for realizing the business of immigrant detention in his few encounters with the system. We hope to have his friend out soon.

I am a citizen of the United States and I have a friend that is from Paris, France here on a student visa to finish his degree. Noureddine Feddane has been here since 2005. His visa is valid until March of 2010, his passport is valid until 2014, and his I-20 is current. He is not what people call an ‘illegal immigrant.’ In 2008, he fell in love and married a U.S. citizen that just happens to be addicted to prescription medications. Noureddine knew nothing about this. But he was arrested due to her mistakes.

He was placed in detention and scheduled for deportation. My friend has been in detention center in Pompano Beach Florida for 5 months now. This couple has lost all there savings on lawyers, she lost her job, and they are in the process of losing their home. All this was caused because ICE has the wrong person in jail.

I have written many letters to Janet Napolitano, Senator Bill Nelson, Representative Ginny Brown-Waite and even President Obama. But no one will listen. What is illegal in this case is the way DHS is treating this guy, who is 51 and has never had a traffic violation.  While in detention center, they have abused him, denied him food and proper medical treatment. Noureddine is diabetic and they will not give him the proper food or medical attention. The phone system is very poor and hardly works. I suspect that they plan it that way so the detainees cannot contact their lawyers and family. I fear he will be next on the long list of persons that have died while in detention.

Until you go to one of these detention centers and see with your own eyes, you will not believe what America is doing. I was shocked, on my first visit and after almost 6 months of seeing what happens and how they have to live, I am still in shock. It is all about the money. My friend has never cost America anything until they locked him up. He is in a private prison owned by a company called GEO based near Miami, Florida. They are paid very well by our tax dollars, but the treatment is unbelievable. I wonder how many politicians have stock in this company. They are doing quite well even in a bad economy.

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Is Geogetown University Working with ICE?

Given that Juan Gomez–an undocumented student from Florida–is studying at Georgetown University, I found this bit of their law school application quite fascinating:


It’s the only law school out of the 30 applications that I have looked over for Fall 2010, that has such ‘verification requirement’ statements.

The U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) has actually clarified  that federal law did not prohibit undocumented immigrants from attending colleges. When North Carolina community colleges were battling with allowing undocumented students into colleges, ICE issued statement, stating that “it is left for the school to decide whether or not to enroll out-of-status or undocumented non-immigrants…The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not require any school to determine a student’s status.”

So even USCIS agrees that the role of college officials is to educate and does not require them to adjudicate. Georgetown, when did you sign a contract to serve as the e-verify of college admissions?

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