For­get the car, or we’ll we’ll have you de­ported

Raf­fle win­ner sues, says she faces threat of de­por­ta­tion

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Staff Re­porter

Mari­bel Nava Al­varez claims she was threat­ened af­ter win­ning a Corvette in a con­test by Chicago’s La Ley 107.9 FM. She didn’t get the car and she has fled Illi­nois.

Win­ning a Corvette is the dreams.

In Mari­bel Nava Al­varez’s case, it has been a night­mare.

The for­mer Lit­tle Vil­lage res­i­dent said of­fi­cials with lo­cal ra­dio sta­tion La Ley 107.9 FM and its par­ent com­pany, Span­ish Broad­cast­ing Sys­tem, with­held the gray sports car she won in a La Ley raf­fle when they dis­cov­ered she was an un­doc­u­mented res­i­dent.

What’s worse, she said, is that an SBS at­tor­ney al­legedly threat­ened to alert au­thor­i­ties of her im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus once he learned she in­tended to take her bat­tle to court.

“I was very sad. I cried. . . . My feel­ings were hurt be­cause I was mocked,” Al­varez, 22, said in her na­tive Span­ish on Wed­nes­day. “It’s un­just.” Chevro­let

stuff of

De­spite La Ley’s claims, Al­varez said she was never in­formed ver­bally or in print that she had to be U.S. cit­i­zen or le­gal res­i­dent to be el­i­gi­ble to win Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can singer Juan Rivera’s old car dur­ing the July 4, 2005, con­test at the Plaza Garibaldi, 2600 S. Cal­i­for­nia.

The only con­di­tion was that the po­ten­tial win­ner had to be present at the draw­ing, said Al­varez, who re­cently sued both com­pa­nies for breach of con­tract and emo­tional dis­tress.

Came here at age 7

SBS lawyer James Cueva is also named as a de­fen­dant in the law­suit.

“I will cau­tion you that if you in­sist on fil­ing suit against SBS, I will in turn be forced to re­fer this mat­ter to U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment as I be­lieve your client is in this coun­try il­le­gally. Please com­mu­ni­cate that to your client for her con­sid­er­a­tion,” Cueva wrote in a Dec. 19, 2005, let­ter to Al­varez’s at­tor­ney, Fed­erico Ro­driguez.

Al­varez, who came to Chicago from Mex­ico when she was 7 and at­tended pub­lic schools, said she was so fright­ened she would be de­ported that she fled Illi­nois eight months ago with her two chil­dren to an undis­closed lo­ca­tion. Only her mother knows where she cur­rently re­sides.

Al­varez, a laun­dry worker, has not seen any rel­a­tives since, which makes it es­pe­cially hard given she was just di­ag­nosed with breast and cer­vi­cal can- cer, she said.

“I’m in hid­ing. I had to leave my fam­ily be­hind. It was like start­ing over,” said Al­varez, with Ro­driguez at her side.

‘Charges . . . with­out merit’

La Ley is re­quired by law to get a valid So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber or tax iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber from all win­ners of prizes worth more than $500, ac­cord­ing to a writ­ten state­ment from the Span­ish lan­guage sta­tion. A sta­tion of­fi­cial said she did not want to com­ment be­cause the mat­ter is in lit­i­ga­tion.

The sta­tion, which refers to it­self as a cham­pion for Lati­nos and the le­gal­iza­tion of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants, tried giv­ing Al­varez the hard-top car even though her tax re­port­ing in­for­ma­tion could not be ver­i­fied, the state­ment said.

The 1999 Corvette hasn’t been awarded to any other con­tes­tants and is be­lieved to be in SBS’ pos­ses­sion.

As for Cueva’s re­marks about turn­ing the mat­ter over to im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials, they “have some­times been pre­sented with­out proper con­text,” the state­ment said. “. . . La Ley will be re­spond­ing to the al­le­ga­tions of the com­plaint and is con­fi­dent that the ev­i­dence will demon­strate that the charges against La Ley are with­out merit.”

In a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent ear­lier this month, Toys R Us agreed to award a Chi­ne­seAmer­i­can in­fant born in New York a $25,000 prize in a New Year’s baby con­test af­ter the com­pany was crit­i­cized for dis­qual­i­fy­ing the girl be­cause her mother was an il­le­gal im­mi­grant.

Al­though pro­mo­tional ma­te­ri­als re­cruited “all ex­pec­tant New Year’s moth­ers” to ap­ply for the con­test, el­i­gi­bil­ity rules re­quired the ba­bies’ moth­ers to be le­gal res­i­dents.

rhus­[email protected]

The con­test was for a car like this one, a 1999 Corvette.

Mari­bel Nava Al­varez In­hid­ing

A 1999 Corvette sim­i­lar to this one is at the heart of the dis­pute be­tween the ra­dio sta­tion and Al­varez.

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