Target of deportation effort in Knox has criminal history in Fla.; organization pulls support

By Kristi L. Nelson
Posted February 19, 2013 at 6:36 p.m., updated February 19, 2013 at 10:20 p.m.

A man local advocates are using as an example of unfair immigration laws has a criminal record in another state and committed a felony by re-entering the country after being deported, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday.

Bryan Cox, public affairs officer for ICE, said a federal immigration judge ordered Jimenez Juan Andres, a native of Guatemala, removed from the country in 2006, and that he was a fugitive from justice for more than two years before being arrested in Knox County in 2008 for driving without a license and being returned to Guatemala.

“Andres subsequently illegally re-entered the country following removal, which is a criminal act subject to felony prosecution, and he was arrested again in Knox County in February,” Cox said. “Andres remains in custody on an ICE detainer while officials review his most recent arrest.”

Local immigrant advocacy group Comite Popular de Knoxville, with Andres’ family, held a news conference Monday outside Knox County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center, where Andres was being held after being arrested on driving under the influence, speeding, and driving without a license, registration or proof of insurance charges.

They pleaded for Andres not to be deported, arguing that separation from his family — including three children who are legal U.S. residents — was too harsh a punishment for the charges, all misdemeanors.

However, Cox confirmed that Andres’ criminal history in Florida, included two DUI charges, one with property damage, as well as a conviction for domestic violence.

Comite Popular spokesman Alejandro Guizar said the organization was unaware of Andres’ history in Florida, though they knew he was previously deported.

“People make mistakes,” Guizar said, adding that the organization represents “real people.”

Still, separation from his children, their mother, his mother and his siblings — all of whom are legally residing in the United States — is not “just punishment” for his crimes, compared to what a legal U.S. resident would be sentenced to, Guizar said.

Late Tuesday night the organization decided to withdraw its support for Andres’ campaign in light of the new information, Guizar said.

He said Andres’ case does not change the fact that mixed-status families are being separated by deportation.

Target of deportation effort in Knox has criminal history in Fla.; organization pulls support » Knoxville News Sentinel