Making Immigration Happen
Chicago Woman Arrested for Selling Fraudulent Identity Documents to Illegal Aliens
A woman was arrested Wednesday, February 13, 2013, on charges she allegedly sold fraudulent identity documents to illegal aliens. These charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigra

Tag Archives: Secure Communities

Connecticut Secure Communities Arrests Mexican National for Illegal Reentry

A Mexican national, who was encountered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Secure Communities program, was sentenced Thursday, September 6, 2012, to time served for illegally reentering theUnited Statesafter deportation. He pleaded guilty to the charge Aug. 20. This case was investigated by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Jose Angel Lopez-Garcia, 27, first entered the United States in April 1999 and voluntarily returned to Mexico. He reentered the country several times between 1999 and 2010. After illegally reentering in 2010, he was ordered deported by an immigration judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and removed Sept. 24, 2010. On an unknown date after Sept. 24, 2010, Lopez-Garcia illegally reentered the United States once again. On June 10, 2012, Lopez-Garcia was arrested by the Stamford (Conn.) Police Department for various driving-related offenses.

Secure Communities

Secure Communities is a simple and common sense way to carry out ICE’s priorities. It uses an already-existing federal information-sharing partnership between ICE and the FBI that helps to identify illegal aliens without imposing new or additional requirements on state and local law enforcement. For decades, local jurisdictions have shared the fingerprints of individuals who are arrested or booked into custody with the FBI to see if they have a criminal record. Under Secure Communities, which is activated statewide in Connecticut, the FBI automatically sends the fingerprints to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to check against its immigration databases.

If these checks reveal that an individual is unlawfully present in the United States or otherwise removable, ICE takes enforcement action – prioritizing the removal of individuals who present the most significant threats to public safety as determined by the severity of their crime, their criminal history, and other factors – as well as those who have repeatedly violated immigration laws. Lopez-Garcia is a priority for ICE since he is an egregious immigration law violator that has been previously removed from the United States on 10 separate occasions. He is also now a convicted criminal alien, another priority for ICE.

Because Lopez-Garcia had been previously encountered and fingerprinted by immigration officials, there is a digitized record. Once his fingerprints were run after his most recent arrest in Connecticut, Secure Communities registered a “match,” and ICE was notified that Lopez-Garcia was back in the country illegally. He had been detained by federal authorities since that arrest, and will now be deported back to Mexico by ICE, making this his 11th removal.

“As this case shows, there will be consequences for those who show no respect for our laws or our borders,” said Dorothy Herrera-Niles, field office director for ERO Boston. Herrera-Niles oversees ERO throughout New England. “By using tools like Secure Communities, ICE is locating and deporting more criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators than ever before, and our communities are safer as a result.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarala V. Nagala, District of Connecticut.

Bridgeport Attorneys Counsel Family Divided By Deportation, Speak Out Against Federal Program Targeting Illegal Immigrants

M.C. Law Group immigration attorneys Alex Meyerovich and Amy Morilla Miller met recently with the Molina family of Stamford, which has been experiencing firsthand the painful effects of being separated from a loved one by the barriers of immigration law enforcement.

With the introduction of the federal immigration regulation program Secure Communities — that was recently put into effect statewide in Connecticut — there may be more families sharing the Molinas’ pain.

Secure Communities unites the resources of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and local law enforcement in order to more effectively identify, detain, and remove criminal and/or illegal aliens. The program was launched in 2008 and was implemented statewide in Connecticut earlier this year. The program is scheduled to be in effect nationwide by 2013.

Under the Secure Communities program, any set of fingerprints taken by local law enforcement will automatically be sent first to the FBI for a criminal record check, and next to ICE for an immigration status check. If the database checks reveal a match to a
criminal record and/or an illegal or “otherwise removable” immigration status, the individual will be immediately detained and subject to deportation proceedings.

According to the program’s records, since October 2011 alone, Secure Communities has removed over 110,000 criminal aliens, including 39,500 removals of criminal aliens convicted for aggravated felony abuses such as murder, rape, and child sex abuse.

Despite the program’s success in detaining and removing serious criminal alien offenders, it conversely has the ability to remove aliens with no criminal record whatsoever. Attorney Alex Meyerovich, who opposes the program, argues that the ability for local law enforcement to detain illegal immigrants for minor offenses, which can result in their deportation, represents an overzealous and unnecessary extension of ICE’s power. Meyerovich and other critics of the program point to this and more potentially negative side effects of the program as major flaws of Secure Communities.

“On the surface, Secure Communities sounds like a very reasonable program. But what it means in reality is that every time an alien comes in contact with the police, they will have an increased fear of deportation,” said Meyerovich. “This fear means there will be a decreased incentive to talk to the police, which means crime — and more specifically, domestic abuse situations and traffic accidents — is less likely to be reported by immigrant communities.”

In addition to underreported crime, Meyerovich argues that the uniform deportation of non-criminal aliens — often with established lives, businesses, and families in the U.S. — is another detrimental side effect of Secure Communities, and one that has the potential to rip many families apart.

“It’s completely absurd,” said Meyerovich. “An alien can live here for years, pay American taxes, work in or start an American business, and have American spouses and children, but with Secure Communities, one encounter with local law enforcement can potentially mean a non-negotiable ticket back home.”

The Molina family knows the pain of a family member being deported all too well. Meyerovich and fellow M.C. Law Group attorney Amy Morilla Miller represent the family in their attempts to return Sandra Payes-Chacon — wife of U.S. citizen Rony Molina, and mother to U.S. citizen children Evelin, 19, Alex, 11, and Ronald, 8 — to her home in Connecticut.

Payes-Chacon was detained and deported to her native country Guatemala in 2010, and is now barred from entering the U.S. for ten years. All of the family’s legal attempts to rectify her situation — including a request for humanitarian parole sent to the Department of Homeland Security — have been denied.

In her absence, Rony Molina and his children must continue to endure the heartbreaking reality of being cut off from their wife and mother for ten years. Payes-Chacon herself is suffering from severe depression due to the separation.

“The children really need the presence of their mother,” said attorney Morilla Miller of the Molinas’ situation. “This family is being divided unnecessarily.”

Although Payes-Chacon’s deportation did not occur because of Secure Communities, critics caution that as the program continues to expand, cases like the Molina family’s will become more frequent. What troubles Morilla Miller about this prospect is the  unsympathetic attitude that she increasingly sees towards these unnecessary deportations.

“Some people might want to dismiss what this family is going through, and say that the husband and children should just pick up and move to Guatemala, but that’s ridiculous,” said Morilla Miller. “Her husband is a U.S. citizen. Her children are U.S. citizens, born and raised here like any American child. Guatemala is not only a foreign country to them, but one with poor employment and educational prospects, limited access to medical resources, and one of the worst crime rates. What American would want to raise their family in an
environment like that?”

As Secure Communities gets closer to its goal of nationwide implementation by 2013, debates over immigration reform and the rights of immigrants are sure to intensify. The rights of illegal immigrants is a hotly contested issue among politicians and American
citizens alike, with many arguing for stricter immigration regulation and harsher consequences for those who enter the country illegally.

However, Morilla Miller fervently opposes such measures, and sees the current debate over illegal immigration as blatantly ignoring America’s storied history of welcoming immigrants.

“America was founded on the scores of immigrants who came to this country in pursuit of a better life, ” Morilla Miller said. “At some point, virtually every American citizen’s
ancestors were immigrants. So what’s the point of fighting for the rights of immigrants
to stay in this country? You. If someone had turned away your immigrant ancestors, then you wouldn’t be here either.”

Guatemalan Murder Suspect Arrested, Removed

A Guatemalan national residing in Providence, who was wanted in his home country for numerous criminal charges including homicide, kidnapping and escaping from prison, was turned over to Guatemalan law enforcement authorities Friday, March 16, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) assistant attaché in Guatemala. He was removed from the United States by officers with ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). This individual was originally identified by ICE’s Secure Communities program after his arrest by the North Providence (R.I.) Police Department.

Alfredo Carrillo, 49, was arrested by local law enforcement Dec. 30, 2011. He was
arrested under the name Feliberto Lopez and was in possession of a Mexican voter registration card. However, his fingerprints had a different story to tell. When state and local law enforcement arrest and book someone into a jail for a violation of a state criminal offense, they generally fingerprint the person. After fingerprints are taken at the jail, the state and local authorities electronically submit the fingerprints to the FBI. With the Secure Communities program, once the FBI checks the fingerprints, the FBI automatically sends them to ICE so that the agency can determine if that person is also subject to removal. Secure Communities is activated statewide in Rhode Island.

His fingerprints identified him as Carrillo, and it noted that he was a person of interest who may be armed and dangerous. The note also stated that he escaped from prison in Guatemala. North Providence authorities were contacted, and he was turned over to ERO the same day.

“This arrest and repatriation should serve as a reminder to foreign fugitives who
mistakenly believe they can elude justice by fleeing to this country,” said Dorothy Herrera-Niles, field office director for ERO Boston. Herrera-Niles oversees ERO throughout New England. “ICE will continue to work closely with its foreign law enforcement counterparts not only to ensure that criminals are held accountable for their actions, but to safeguard the rights of law-abiding citizens here and overseas.”

Interpol and HSI’s assistant attaché in Guatemala City, Guatemala, confirmed the biographical details and photographic facial identifiers with Guatemalan authorities, which confirmed that Carrillo was indeed wanted by their government. Additional information received from Interpol indicated that he is a member of “Los Pasacos,” a notorious criminal organization that is responsible for several high profile kidnappings and murders in Central America.

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 335 foreign fugitives from the United
States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with HSI’s Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.

Attorney Alex Meyerovich Speaks Out Against ICE Secure Communities Program

By: Mallory Huron

Bridgeport,CT– Local attorney Alex Meyerovich spoke out recently against the federal Secure Communities program, which went into effect statewide in Connecticut on February 22.

Secure Communities, launched in 2008, is a federal program that combines the resources of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and local law enforcement.

Through the program, any set of fingerprints taken by local law enforcement will automatically be sent first to the FBI for a criminal background check, and next to the ICE database for an immigration status check. If there is a match to a criminal record, and/or ICE records show that the individual is in the U.S. illegally, or “otherwise removable,” the individual will be detained and subject to deportation proceedings.

As of October 2011, the program cites over 110,000 removals of immigrants convicted of crimes, which includes 39,500 removals of immigrants convicted of aggravated felony offenses such as murder, rape, and child sex abuse. The program is set to be in effect nationwide by 2013.

However, although the program is designed to target immigrants convicted of serious and often violent crimes, some claim that it will have possible detrimental side effects.

M.C. Law Group immigration attorney Alex Meyerovich, who opposes the program, discussed the potential pitfalls of Secure Communities on Wednesday, February 22, when the program went into effect across Connecticut.

“For many people, it’s a challenge,” Meyerovich said of the program’s consequences on Wednesday. The program is already proving challenging – and controversial – with many arguing that it could have the problematic consequence of effectively turning local law enforcement into ICE immigration officers.

Secure Communities insists that local law enforcement officers are not given any additional responsibilities under the program, nor are they instructed or authorized to enforce federal immigration law. However, concerns about possible misuse of power linger, as well concerns over the larger impact for local communities.

“This program will probably do more damage to the communities than good,” said Meyerovich. “It creates a disincentive for immigrants to call the police, ever.”

This disincentive, Meyerovich argues, could pose a serious threat to community safety. Immigrants may begin to fear any interaction with local law enforcement, and may avoid reporting anything from car accidents to domestic violence disputes for fear of potential deportation. He maintains that if any resident, whether they reside in the U.S. legally or illegally, is dissuaded from alerting the police about matters of public and personal safety, then Secure Communities will actually be creating insecure and unsafe communities.

Watch the full News12 Connecticut interview with Attorney Meyerovich below.