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  1. #1
    Senior Member Ratbstard's Avatar
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    Scores in Marshalltown back illegal immigrant who faces big price for a small crime

    desmoinesregister.com
    Written by
    JENS MANUEL KROGSTAD
    4:40 AM, Feb. 29, 2012


    Salvador Lara, 25, breaks down during an interview at the Marshall County Jail in Marshalltown as he talks about the prospect of leaving his sister and relatives in Iowa. Jailed after a theft conviction, he now faces being deported to Mexico, where he has no family.

    MARSHALLTOWN, IA. — Salvador Lara lives life with little room for error, and he slipped up.

    Lara, 25, sits in the Marshall County Jail facing deportation for picking up a money bag off the ground that didn’t belong to him. His fellow soccer coach, looking at him in an orange jumpsuit on the other side of a glass barrier, tries to help Lara come to terms with his situation through the game they both love.

    “You know, Salvador, soccer is a game that has so little scoring, you can make one little mistake that can have huge consequences,” said Karen Boland, who brought on Lara as a volunteer assistant coach for a traveling girls’ soccer team. “Now you’re experiencing that in life.”

    Boland is one of more than 150 people in Marshalltown who have written letters or called immigration authorities on Lara’s behalf.

    Lara helped turn Boland’s nine-loss team into a club that won eight games last fall. In January, though, Lara’s future changed after he was arrested and charged with fifth-degree theft, a misdemeanor. He was ordered to pay $85 in restitution, the amount of money in the unmarked bag.

    The punishment from immigration authorities is a life sentence of sorts. Lara faces deportation with no chance for re-entry into the United States, even though everyone he knows and loves is in Iowa.

    Stories like Lara’s are not unusual, and they are expected to become more common as a program called Secure Communities rolls out nationwide.

    Under the three-year-old program, fingerprints of people booked into a local jail are checked against a federal immigration database. Secure Communities was activated in all Iowa counties on Jan. 24. It’s designed to increase public safety by snagging illegal immigrants convicted of crimes who might otherwise slip through the system.

    Critics, though, say it ensnares too many people like Lara, even as authorities have pledged to focus on deporting serious felons, gang members and other dangerous criminals.

    High school teachers who never had Lara in class recall his leadership in easing tensions between Latino and white students. Parents remember Lara as a youth soccer coach.

    Lara advocated Dream Act passage

    Lara has also lobbied state lawmakers and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley to pass the Dream Act, a law that allows immigrants like Lara who were illegally brought into the country to attend college.

    Supporters have all contacted immigration authorities with the same message: Don’t deport Salvador. He is a valued member of our community.

    Grassley spokeswoman Beth Levine said the senator appreciated the conference call with Lara and understands the need to protect young people forced to enter the country illegally, unaware of the consequences. “But at the same time, (Grassley) knows the need to be conscious of those people standing in line, all around the world, who follow the law and wait their turn to come here legally,” she said.

    In a June 28 Senate hearing, Grassley argued that passing the legislation would open the door to fraud and abuse of the immigration system.

    Grassley was among seven Republican senators to ask the Obama administration on Jan. 30 to enforce the federal immigration laws. In a letter, the senators said they agreed with concerns voiced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton about local governments like Cook County, Ill., that have passed an ordinance that allows local police to ignore Secure Communities.

    “We agree with Director Morton that this ordinance undermines public safety and hinders ICE’s ability to enforce our nation’s immigration laws. We also believe it violates federal law,” the senators said.

    Lara’s original sin, in the eyes of the law, was that he slipped into the United States at age 14. His older sister brought him to Iowa because he had dropped out of school to sell water jugs on the streets of Mexico City. His mother was neglecting him, and his stepfather was abusive.

    Even after six weeks in jail, thinking about his actions, Lara can’t explain them. Police said Lara acknowledged to them that he knew who owned the blue zippered money bag that he picked up outside a Walmart. He knows he should have taken the bag to the store’s customer service desk. But he didn’t.

    “I just wasn’t thinking. I made a mistake and I’m paying for it right now. But I don’t think I deserve to go back to a country where right now I don’t know anybody,” he said.

    His cause draws many supporters

    Immigrant advocates have taken up Lara’s cause, but his plight has also drawn support from unexpected places.

    Take Boland, who prefers soccer to politics. If Salvador had not taken full responsibility for his actions, she said, she wouldn’t be going to bat for him.

    “I’m not an activist. But when it comes to someone you know personally, and you’re going, ‘This is just not right. This is just not fair,’ it really raises your level of awareness,” she said.

    Despite the theft case, people call Lara a man of character. Deb Holsapple, an associate principal at Marshalltown High School, recalls Lara’s dogged determination to learn English, demanding that she speak to him in a language he struggled to grasp.

    Lara cared for his sister’s mother-in-law until she died last year. When the obituary ran in the local paper, he was listed as a family member.

    Lara has also refused to buy fake papers to find a job at the local meatpacking plant, because he didn’t want to steal someone’s identity. He has instead opted for jobs at restaurants, which pay less.

    “If you’re going to commit a crime to get a job, I’d rather not do it,” he said.

    Like many other immigrants in his situation, Lara lost his way after graduating from high school. His friends had driver’s licenses and went off to college. Lara stayed behind. He struggled to afford community college classes and never graduated. He isolated himself from friends and gained 30 pounds.

    Those who know Lara trace his downward slide to the moment he realized he was an illegal immigrant.

    “He didn’t understand he was illegal at 14,” said Joa LaVille, 42, an immigrant advocate in Marshalltown who started the Facebook page “Speak up for Salvador.”

    Lara found new direction in lobbying lawmakers to pass the Dream Act. He saw the bill as his only way out of a bad situation, and he devoted himself to the task, which is ongoing.

    Lara said he sank into depression last week after immigration lawyers told him there was nothing they could do because of his criminal conviction. One factor working against Lara, who is single and has no children, is that under immigration law, he has no immediate family ties.

    Still, Lara calls home twice a day from jail — at night to tell his niece and nephew he loves them, and in the afternoon to talk to his sister, the woman who raised him.

    “I tell her that I’m sorry and that I love her,” he said.


    Scores in Marshalltown back illegal immigrant who faces big price for a small crime | The Des Moines Register | DesMoinesRegister.com
    Last edited by Ratbstard; 02-29-2012 at 12:58 PM.
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  2. #2
    MW
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    Geez, quick, someone please give me a tissue before I run my keyboard.

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

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  3. #3
    Senior Member grandmasmad's Avatar
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    Total tear jerker...........NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!
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    Senior Member Kiara's Avatar
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    “I’m not an activist. But when it comes to someone you know personally, and you’re going, ‘This is just not right. This is just not fair,’ it really raises your level of awareness,” she said.

    I'll tell you whats NOT fair or right, illegals thinking they can shove their way to the head of the line and ignore our laws. They have no background or health checks. They want everything handed to them on a silver platter.


    “If you’re going to commit a crime to get a job, I’d rather not do it,” he said.

    Yet he could care less that he is taking a job away from a citizen who needs to feed and care for their family!
    ShawnX5 likes this.

  5. #5
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    Ummm, yea okay, Are we supposed to care? Why? Oh, because they Promote All out Protests and Attacks on Americans by way of "La Raza" and other whiny Criminal supporters...

    How about whats SAFE, Healthy and Productive for Legal Americans!!

  6. #6
    Senior Member MontereySherry's Avatar
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    So he was living on the streets of Mexico and his sister kidnapped him and forced him to come to the U.S. He did not know at 14 he was illegal? Well I bet his sister knew! The sister should be arrested and thrown out of this country