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Posts tagged ‘Napolitano’

The New York Daily News Covers Tragic Abduction and Torture of Our Client

Erica Pearson of the NY Daily News wrote an excellent article today on the ordeal of our client, Zoila Figueroa. The story touches on how the U Visa legislation–designed to protect undocumented immigrants who have been victims of serious crimes–arbitrarily fails to protect thousands of immigrants.

Two excerpts below follow:

For three days, a pregnant Salvadoran woman was held captive in a mobile home in the Texas borderland, her dreams of reuniting with her family on Long Island replaced by fear of violent death.

“They were threatening me with a gun, pointed right to my stomach,” Zoila Figueroa said of the two men who abducted her after she sneaked across the U.S.-Mexico border near Hidalgo, Tex., in March 2012.

“They threatened me. They said if my husband didn’t pay ransom they were going to take out my baby. They were going to take out the baby alive and then they were going to kill me.”


But while Figueroa’s experience seems to make her a textbook example of a victim who would qualify for a “U” visa, her case has come to symbolize the arbitrary nature of the program, which requires police or prosecutors to sign a certificate proving that the victim has cooperated with investigators.

She has cooperated extensively with authorities in Hidalgo County, Tex., but they have refused to approve the needed paperwork — leaving her in danger of being deported. She must check in with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on Thursday .

“This is a perfect example of how someone is not being protected even though they need it,” said her lawyer, Bryan Johnson.

Read more:



Yesterday, we held a protest for three of our detained clients who face imminent removal. The story garnered significant press coverage on Telemundo’s “Al Rojo Vivo” and on New York Telemundo’s “Noticiero” program.

Why? Because none of the three immigrants who face removal have a criminal past and the families of these immigrants would be destroyed by the deportation of their loved ones.

ICE headquarters’ response to the press inquiry on behalf of our clients is a public admission by the Obama administration that destroying immigrant families is a priority:

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) targets illegal aliens based on our stated immigration enforcement priorities. Werner Arreaga Garcia, Oscar Jimenez and Juan Marcelino are enforcement priorities for the agency.

“ICE is focused on smart and effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of convicted criminal aliens, immigration fugitives, recent border crossers and repeat immigration law violators. The following three individuals fall into these priority categories:

*Garcia was ordered deported by a federal immigration judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) July 8, 2002. ICE effectuated the removal July 22, 2002. Garcia returned to the United States unlawfully. Garcia, being a repeat immigration law violator, is a priority for removal by ICE.

*Jimenez is an immigration fugitive, a priority for removal by ICE. Jimenez was ordered removed from the United States by a federal immigration judge Sept. 20, 2005, and failed to comply with the order of the federal immigration judge.

*Marcelino is an immigration fugitive, a priority for removal by ICE. Marcelino was most recently encountered by ICE after being arrested on a felony criminal charge. Marcelino was granted voluntary departure, and was required to leave the United States by July 7, 2003. He failed to comply with the judge’s orders.

“Over the past four years, ICE has dramatically changed the way it conducts immigration enforcement. ICE implemented clear priorities, enhanced the use of prosecutorial discretion, and implemented a sustained focus on the identification and removal of criminal aliens and other priority individuals.”


At 11:30 am tomorrow at 26 Federal Plaza, our office will be hosting a protest on behalf of our clients and all immigrants who are detained and at risk of imminent removal from the United States even though their families will be destroyed and they are low priority as defined by the Obama administration.

The families of the three clients will be present at the protest and available for interviews to demonstrate how the Obama administration is destroying immigrant families while at the same time he promises comprehensive reform to keep these families together.

The administration manages to deport such large numbers of low-priority immigrants by reclassifying non-criminal, family men and women as “fugitives” or “egregious immigration violators” although these immigrants are only here because U.S. immigration laws are so draconian that they have left them with no other way to be with their children, spouses, or parents in the United States.

The stories of our three clients are below.

ICE’s New York Office of Enforcement of Removal has already denied  one of our client’s request for prosecutorial discretion. The letter is inserted below.

Werner Arreaga (A # 098-897-297). Werner has been married to Nora, a U.S. citizen, since 2007. He has no criminal history and has widespread support from his community. He also has a U.S. citizen stepdaughter, Cindy, who is 12-years-old. His wife, a naturalized U.S. citizen, is from Chile and Werner is from Guatemala. If he is removed, Werner’s family will be permanently separated. Werner returned to the United States in 2006 because of gang violence. He was previously removed from from the U.S. in 2002.

Werner ended up in ICE custody when the NYPD pulled him over for an illegal U-turn. A search of his name showed that he has an outstanding order of removal. Even though all criminal charges against him were dismissed, New York City honored ICE’s detainer and turned this non-criminal, low-priority individual over to ICE custody for removal. He has been detained by ICE since February at the Bergen County Jail located in Hackensack, New Jersey.

On March 8, 2013, ICE’s New York Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations denied Werner’s request for prosecutorial discretion to remain in the United States with his family, even with the help of a petition from Dreamactivist. He may be removed any day now.

Werner 1

Werner Denial Of stay letter.

2. Oscar Jimenez (A # 098-897-297.) Oscar is the father of two beautiful 8-month-old U.S. citizen daughters, Ashley and Astrid. He is the sole financial provider for his girls. His wife does not work because she has to take care of her children. Oscar has no criminal history. He was picked up by ICE after the NYPD stopped him on his way home from work for having an open beer container. The police told Oscar that they would only issue him a ticket and asked for identification. Oscar only had his Honduras consular ID card. The police officers said that they had to bring him in because the foreign ID was not enough. When the police brought him to the station and ran his fingerprints, they discovered an outstanding ICE removal order from 2005. New York City honored ICE’s detainer even though all charges against Oscar were dismissed.

Oscar has been detained since February at Bergen County Jail and faces removal at any moment. If he is removed, his little girls will be without a father for their entire lives.

Jimenez photo


Oscar Jimenez with his twin baby daughters in the U.S.

Oscar Jimenez with his twin baby daughters in the U.S.


Juan Marcelino A # 077-753-369. Juan Marcelino is the father two to U.S. citizen children, Kelly and Stephen Marcelino Delgado, who are 11 and 9-years-old respectively. He is married to Rhina Delgado, who has Temporary Protected Status in the United States. Juan was arrested after it was discovered that the Bodega in which he worked was not properly selling cigarettes. Ultimately, Juan was only convicted of disorderly conduct, a non-criminal violation. Juan has been detained for months now pending a motion to reopen filed by a prior attorney that has little chance of success. Juan has an outstanding order of removal from 2003 and may be removed in the imminent future. He is currently detained at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny, New Jersey.

These three cases are a sobering snapshot into the world of the Obama administration’s removal machine.  Although Mr. Obama has consistently purported to support immigrant families, his administration’s actions have proven his words to be lies.

This protest is to help stop the Obama administration’s coercive destruction of these three families and all others unfortunate enough to be ensnared by this arbitrary and unjust system.

Please come out and support them at 11:30 am at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY 10278.