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Thread: Once tolerated, now targeted: Illegal immigrants in CNY caught in crackdown

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  1. #1
    Senior Member lorrie's Avatar
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    Once tolerated, now targeted: Illegal immigrants in CNY caught in crackdown

    Once tolerated, now targeted: Illegal immigrants in CNY caught in crackdown

    Updated February 26, 2018 4:56 AM

    Hector Navarro with his family stands in back of his van, close to where he was apprehended by ICE, L to R mother Arely Tomas Orazco,
    Angel Jesus, Hector, Karin and Lisania, February 24, 2018.

    Syracuse, N.Y. -- Angel Jesus laid out his father's clothes Dec. 21, 2017. The 7-year-old put a shirt, pants and his father's rosary on his parents' bed. He put the shoes on the floor of the Syracuse apartment next to the bed.

    Then he forbade anyone to touch them for the next two months. Not even his mother.

    The boy's father, Hector Navarro, had been picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers while the three kids, all U.S. citizens, were at school. He drove their mom to her job that morning.

    When he went to park the minivan outside their apartment, he was penned in on all sides. Then he was handcuffed and taken away.

    At first glance, it could be easy to say the law finally caught up with Navarro, who came to the U.S. from Guatemala illegally 15 years ago.

    But ICE knew where Navarro was for years. He had been through their court. He was following their rules, his family and lawyer say.

    Then, the rules changed. In the first eight months of the Trump presidency, the number of non-criminal immigrants, like Navarro, who were arrested increased 42 percent, according to data from ICE.

    The government is also reopening cases like Navarro's across the nation, often without new or different evidence. And it is picking up people who came to the country illegally but have lived here often with the government's knowledge tacit blessing. They built families, worked and, often, paid taxes, despite their illegal status.

    Their fates are decided in a largely secret court where the records are closed, the backlog is deep, and the court is only open if the government wants it to be. The judges are chosen by the government.

    There is no right to a lawyer. You can have one if you can afford it. And they are pricey. Already-stretched families scramble to pony up $1,000 in 24 hours just to retain an attorney.

    Navarro, from Guatemala, was first picked up by ICE in 2011 when he was working at his job cleaning a bank, his family said. That time, the family spent $5,000 on his bond and thousands more on a lawyer, who finally had Navarro's case closed by a judge in January 2017.

    They thought he had nothing to worry about. But the numbers show they did.

    In 2016 in the Buffalo region, which includes Syracuse, there were 1,103 arrests by ICE. Of those, 160 were non-criminals, according to data provided by ICE. For 2017, there were 396 non-criminal arrests by ICE out of 1,494 total. It's likely those numbers will be higher for 2018. The shadow community of immigrants who came into the country illegally is 209,000 in New York outside of New York City, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.

    Now, they are faced with unimaginable decisions: leave their children behind, take them to a violent country they've never known, or, perhaps, disappear deeper into the shadows in this country and hope for the best.

    These dramas are playing out not just in border states and big cities. There are happening in the homes of families who live in Syracuse, a "sanctuary city."

    Navarro's family was friendly with Alvaro Rene Mendez Perez's family before. Now, they are bound together by the same helplessness as they watch their families' fates twist in the complicated, changeable immigration court system. They are parents who came to the country, illegally. They lived quietly in Syracuse with ICE's knowledge as they raised their American-born children.

    The president of the school

    The doorstep at the Perez family's home - an average house in a working-class neighborhood - is dark even though they are expecting guests.

    Ashley, 15, months, and Jorshua, 7, are the U.S. Citizen children of Alvaro Rene Mendez Perez,
    who has been detained by ICE and could be deported to Guatemala.

    Inside, Jorshua, 7, is eager to talk about his day. That's because it was a great day by kid standards. He was the president of his elementary school. It was a reward for being a model student. He could choose where he wanted to eat lunch.

    He went to the library to eat with the librarian.

    "I want to be a library teacher," he says, before breathlessly recounting the rest of his day, which included meeting an author and illustrator of a children's book.

    His baby sister, Ashley, is having a nap. Outside is the white minivan their father drives. When she sees it, she points and says, "Papa!"

    The kids have not seen their father since Jan. 31. Like Navarro, Perez was in the country illegally from Guatemala. A little more than a year ago, he was picked up for speeding outside the city of Syracuse while on his way to a job. He works as a painter between 50 and 70 hours a week, said his partner and the mother of his children.

    At that traffic stop, the police turned Perez over to ICE because he didn't have the right documents. ICE officers in Oswego saw that he'd agreed to leave the country in 2008, his family said and his lawyer confirmed.

    But Perez told the ICE officers in Oswego that he had a family, a son and a daughter on the way. They allowed him to leave with an order of supervision from ICE, Perez's lawyer confirmed. Perez had to check in with them every three months on the phone. If he wanted to leave the state, he had to let them know.

    Perez did that. He called the ICE office in Syracuse Jan. 31. But this time, they told him to come downtown. He asked if he'd done something wrong. No, he was told. We'd just like to see you, his partner recalled, sitting on her couch.

    "I felt like it was dangerous," she says. "But he didn't."

    She, too, is here illegally. She does not want her name used because she fears ICE will take her, leaving her children with no one to care for them, she says. If either had a lawyer when they were picked up by ICE all those years ago, it's possible they would have been granted asylum and allowed to stay legally. She left Honduras because her boyfriend had threatened to kill her and the courts and police did little to protect her, she says. He is from Guatemala, but Mayan, his lawyer, Bob Graziano, said. The Mayans have been persecuted, and he was.

    Now, with every knock, she worries they will come for her, too. She can't go see Perez, who has been locked up in the immigration detention center in Batavia since Jan. 31.

    He'd narrowly missed being deported the weekend of Feb. 17, his lawyer said. Perez was on the passenger list for a plane back to Guatemala. At the last minute, Graziano, the lawyer, got the judge to put a hold on Perez's case. Graziano wants them to reopen the 2008 case so Perez can ask for asylum. That's what he should have done then, Graziano said. It's a longshot to reopen his old case and plead for asylum. In Batavia, the court where his case will be heard, fewer than 20 percent of asylum requests are granted, according to data from TRAC. But it's the only option left. Perez has an Immigration Court date in early March.

    The phone rings in Perez's home. His partner smiles and answers. "Papi," she says, before walking into the kitchen.

    She is the disciplinarian. He is the softy. He plays with the kids. Takes them outside. Makes sure their homework is done.

    He also made enough money to keep the family comfortable. Their rent is $1,000. Then there are the other expenses: electricity, groceries, phone bills. She's never asked for help. "I've never needed it," she says.

    She estimated Mendez made about $50,000 a year.

    She also works a few days a week in the kitchen of a restaurant. She is not sure what they will do. She had to come up with $1,000 in 24 hours to retain a lawyer for Mendez. Then more to keep him.

    Now, two churches, the Workers Center of Central New York and CNY Rapid Response have raised money for some of her legal bills and living expenses. One of the kids' soccer coaches brought groceries.

    Jorshua brings the baby's shoes to his mother. She puts them on the child, who smiles, then pats the couch next to her for her mother to sit.

    Jorshua sits close to the television, where the Olympics are on. Did we win, he asks, his fists balled up as he waits to see.

    He means the U.S.

    Prison that's not a prison

    As he watched the Olympics, Jorshua's dad and Hector Navarro, Angel Jesus's dad, were two hours away at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia. It is a not a prison, technically. They are accused of no crimes. Instead, they are charged with administrative violations of immigration law. This place, with metal detectors, armed guards and bars, is where they are held while the U.S. Immigration Court decides their fate.

    The court is attached to the detention center in the industrial park just off the Thruway. The two share a small lobby that makes no nod at the traffic the place sees. On Tuesday, there are three lawyers in the lobby, talking about their caseloads. One laments that the cooks from her favorite Thai restaurant are not fighting their deportation. Instead, they simply wanted a plane ticket home.

    Take the door on the left and there are nearly 500 immigrants in detention. Immigrants are housed based on their level of risk, and they wear color-coded scrubs so everyone knows. Blue: no risk, no crime.
    Orange: immigration or low-level crime. Red: criminal offense in addition to immigration violation.

    The double doors to the right lead to a series of small court rooms where government lawyers have shopping carts full of cases. The immigrants enter through the back.

    This day, after two months in detention, Navarro has a hearing for bond. He wears blue scrubs, the color you wear if you have no criminal past, and headphones so he can hear the translator.

    Hector Navarro stands outside his apartment on in Syracuse, February 24, 2018.
    Michael Greenlar |

    A stern court officer orders a group of activists from the Workers Center of Central New York, there to support Navarro, to sit on the side of the small courtroom that's opposite him. I don't want any disruptions, he says. The group, ranging in age from college students to retirees, nodded.

    They had to ask the ICE officer in charge of the facility for permission to come. You can't just show up to this court.

    After that two-month wait, it took seven minutes for the judge to grant Navarro's bond.

    Then it took six more hours for his bond to be posted and processed.

    Shelia Sicilia, a computer science professor at Onondaga Community College with two kids in college, took out a personal loan after Navarro was picked up. Sicilia volunteers with the "rapid response" group that shows up when immigrants are detained in and around Syracuse. Her daughter was adopted from Guatemala; Sicilia wants to help others from there. She was hoping post Navarro's bond so he could be home for Christmas. But the money sat, untouched, for two months.

    In November, a federal court judge admonished the detention center and immigration court there for taking months to process detainees' bond requests.

    Navarro's wife, Arely, did not come. She has her own immigration case. She's been ordered to check in every month, in person. She was detained in 2013, following a traffic stop, then released. She was detained, again, in June, and then released a few days later. Her son asks every day if she'll be home when he gets back from school. Yes, she tells him.

    Like the Perez family, the Navarro family might have won asylum if they'd had lawyers early on. Data shows that have a lawyer increases the possibility of asylum by 30 percent.

    Navarro left Guatemala first, hoping to find work to alleviate his young family's poverty, magnified when Hurricane Stan demolished their home and land, his family says. Arely, still a teen herself, stayed with his mother, who beat her, she says. Finally, she left, too. She walked five days in the desert, she says, to reunite with Navarro. She was picked up in 2009 in Arizona, but then let go. She had an immigration court hearing she didn't know about because she moved, she said. In her absence, a judge ordered her deportation. She found out four years later, she said.

    Hector Navarro and his family stand in the courtyard of their apartment in Syracuse.
    They are L to R Lisania, Angel Jesus, mother Arely Tomas Orazco, Hector and Karin,
    February 24, 2018. Michael Greenlar |

    As Arely sat, talking about her kid's worries she and her husband will disappear, her phone rang. It was the kids. They are 11, 9 and 7. All U.S. Citizens. They were just checking on her.

    I'll be home soon, she told them in Spanish.

    The kids had not talked to Navarro since he was taken. He could not talk to them on the phone, Arely explained, because he would break down crying. He does not want to upset them, she says.

    When he was released from detention on bond, he cried as he looked at pictures of valentines his children made him. When he got home to his apartment, Angel Jesus took his father's clothes and rosary from the spot where they'd waited for two months.
    Papa was home. For now.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member lorrie's Avatar
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    Blah, Blah, Blah.

    artist, JohnK, Judy and 2 others like this.

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  3. #3
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    Time overdue for all illegals to return to THEIR countries and let them put their heart and soul into making their countries better.
    JohnK, GeorgiaPeach, Judy and 4 others like this.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Do they not understand that posting these stupid pictures of children of illegal aliens just riles up Americans even more about the grotesque stupidity of handing out social security numbers and passports to children of illegal aliens and claiming that's "citizenship"?! These are not US citizens.
    lorrie and Beezer like this.
    A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation - Ronald Reagan
    Save America, Deport Congress! - Judy

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  5. #5
    MW is offline
    Senior Member MW's Avatar
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    Typical liberal tactic. Just thrust the children out front with their sob story in order to distract from the real issue.
    lorrie and Beezer like this.

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" ** Edmund Burke**

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  6. #6
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    Jan 2018
    Illegal alien lobby:

    "Do we have a dramatic picture of Hector peering into the void of contemplation with a Superman-like aura of righteousness?"

    Do we have a heart tugging picture of innocent children oblivious the the "danger" of ICE's brutal assault on their father?"

    Do we have a "dumb as a football bat" author to write a caption underneath a family portrait that states, "The family is standing in back of their van" when clearly they are in front of it?"

    Have we properly stated that the word "criminal" doesn't apply to people who broke a law that we don't agree with?

    Concerning this section:
    "The shadow community of immigrants who came into the country illegally is 209,000 in New York outside of New York City, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute."
    Is New York City no longer part of New York?

    "Have we talked about every good thing Hector has done in his life in order to somehow cancel out his eligibility for deportation?"

    "Can we talk about a literal childish protest of laying out clothes and ordering everyone to not touch the clothes because of reasons that are not quite articulated?
    Last edited by Boomslang; 02-27-2018 at 08:11 AM.

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