Un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants face ar­rest at sched­uled check-ins

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Dan Sweeney Staff writer See AR­RESTS, 12A

MI­RA­MAR — Un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants are fac­ing both in­creased raids at home and ar­rests dur­ing reg­u­lar check-ins with Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to ICE, 41,318 im­mi­grants here il­le­gally have been ar­rested for de­por­ta­tion in the first four months of 2017, an in­crease of 38 per­cent over the first four months of last year, when there were 30,028. Of them, some 10,800 have no crim­i­nal record, an in­crease of 153 per­cent over the same time pe­riod last year, when therewere about 4,200.

The in­creases rep­re­sent a

‘We won’t tol­er­ate one more de­por­ta­tion.’ Maria Bil­bao, Unit­edWe Dream

new, broader man­date un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to ar­rest and de­port any im­mi­grants who en­ter the coun­try il­le­gally. Un­der the pre­vi­ou­sad­min­is­tra­tion, those with no crim­i­nal records and those who crossed the bor­der il­le­gally as chil­dren were largely ex­empted.

“ICE con­tin­ues to fo­cus its en­force­ment re­sources on in­di­vid­u­als who pose a threat to na­tional se­cu­rity, pub­lic safety and bor­der se­cu­rity. How­ever, ICE will no longer ex­empt en­tire classes or cat­e­gories of re­mov­able aliens from po­ten­tial en­force­ment,” said Nestor Ygle­sias, Pub­lic Af­fairs Of­fi­cer for ICE’s Mi­amiof­fice. “All those in vi­o­la­tion of im­mi­gra­tion law may be sub­ject to im­mi­gra­tion ar­rest, de­ten­tion and, if found re­mov­able by fi­nal or­der, re­moval from the United States.”

The de­por­ta­tion of im­mi­grants who have com­mit­ted no crime other than an il­le­gal bor­der cross­ing, and who are in some cases seek­ing asy­lum or who have ob­tained work visas, has drawn the ire of ac­tivists. They had a news con­fer­ence Fri­day out­side the Mi­ra­mar ICE fa­cil­ity, where sev­eral such ar­rests have taken place.

“We’re here to de­nounce the silent raids, a new prac­tice of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion,” said Maria Bil­bao, ofUnit­edWe Dream, an um­brella or­ga­ni­za­tion for im­mi­gra­tion ac­tivists.

Bil­bao high­lighted the

cases of two un­doc­u­mented Nicaraguan men, Espilvio Sanchez-Be­navidez and Char­lieRo­driguez. They were ar­rested and de­ported in sep­a­rate in­ci­dents af­ter show­ing up to the Mi­ra­mar fa­cil­ity for re­quired check-ins. Both were de­ported last month. Nei­ther had a crim­i­nal record. Sanchez-Be­navidez had been seek­ing asy­lum; Ro­driguez had re­ceived a visa to work as a church min­is­ter.

The ac­tivists said that when they brought the de­por­ta­tions to the at­ten­tion of U.S. Rep. Ileana RosLe­hti­nen, R-Mi­ami, her of­fice re­sponded that it was aware of five sim­i­lar de­por­ta­tions oc­cur­ring in one­week in mid-April.

“We won’t tol­er­ate one more de­por­ta­tion. United We Dreamis ready to es­ca­late here in Florida andwe warn ICE that we will do ev­ery­thing in our ca­pac­ity to stop th­ese dis­gust­ing prac­tices that are sep­a­rat­ing our fam­i­lies,” Bil­bao said.

The de­por­ta­tions have caused other asy­lum seek­ers who reg­u­larly check in at the Mi­ra­mar fa­cil­ity to be­lieve they could be next.

Jenny Martinez ar­rived in the United States three months ago from Ecuador. She wears an an­kle mon­i­tor ap­plied by ICE, and is try­ing to get asy­lum. She fled with her son, Wil­liam, and says her hus­band is a gang mem­ber who was vi­o­lent with her.

Martinez said thatwhen she first ar­rived in Florida, she was re­lieved to find “a place where there is no fear, where no one’s hit­ting me any­more.”

But since her in­ter­ac­tions with ICE at the Mi­ra­mar fa­cil­ity, she says she lives in fear of be­ing sent back to Ecuador.

“Af­ter run­ning away from crim­i­nals, I come to the coun­try of lib­erty to be treated like a crim­i­nal,” she said.

She has no money to hire a lawyer to get asy­lum pa­pers in or­der, and pleaded with im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials to stream­line the process and for sym­pa­thetic at­tor­neys to help her with her case.

“We’re will­ing to es­ca­late, we’re will­ing to do ral­lies, shut down this de­ten­tion cen­ter, not just a press con­fer­ence but with marches, ral­lies and civil dis­obe­di­ence if it’s nec­es­sary,” said Ricardo Cam­pos, re­gional field di­rec­tor ofUnit­edWe Dream.

But for now, as more im­mi­grants come in for their check-ins, the or­ga­ni­za­tion in­tends to travel with them to the cen­ter to wit­ness and pro­vide “a cir­cle of pro­tec­tion.”

Cam­pos said that if im­mi­grants are ar­rested while the ac­tivists are there, they in­tend to take fur­ther ac­tion, but United We Dream was still de­ter­min­ing what that ac­tion would be.

dsweeney@Sun­Sen­tinel .com, 954-356-4605 or Twit­ter @Daniel_Sweeney

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