Father Of Three Deported In Violation Of Court Order
Editor's note: NBC will air a segment about this story Oct. 1, 2006. Check your local tv listings, for more details.
September 11, 2006
BOSTON - A citizen of Lynn, Massachusetts has been deported by immigration officials despite a federal court's direct order that he be permitted to remain in the United States.
Eustaquio Juarez, the father of three young United States citizen children, was originally placed in deportation proceedings in 1991. Notice of his deportation hearing never reached him due to a typographical error in the government's records. When he failed to appear to this hearing, he was ordered deported in absentia, which means he was not present in court that day.
Unaware of this order, Juarez continued to live, work, and pay taxes in the United States for more than 15 years. He is the father of three United States citizen children, all of whom are under ten years of age. The youngest is only two years old.
Juarez was arrested in an early-morning raid at his Lynn home in June. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers repeatedly taunted and humiliated his family before taking him away. "They called my sons 'stupido,'" said Juarez's wife Mary.
Juarez was finally notified of the 1991 order when he was detained by immigration officials in June of 2006. He immediately requested that the immigration court reopen his proceedings due to his prior lack of notice. Under federal regulations, the filing of this motion automatically stayed his deportation.
On August 29, 2006, Juarez's request to reopen his proceedings was granted. Immigration Judge Thomas Roepke ruled that Juarez had established "reasonable cause" for his failure to appear at his 1991 deportation hearing due to the government's error. The court ordered his case reopened and set a new hearing date for Juarez.
Eustaquio Juarez was deported to Guatemala without explanation one week after this federal court order.
"What we have now is a national hysteria over terrorism, and this has resulted in immigrants becoming the scapegoat. In the wake of national crises such as the McKinley assassination, World War I, Pearl Harbor, and Sept. 11, historically it is immigrants who have always received the backlash of rebuke," said Juarez's attorney, Jeff Ross.
In the wake of the President McKinley's 1901 assassination by a Polish immigrant, Congress enacted harsh immigration reform. Pearl Harbor resulted in an extensive backlash against American-born Germans, as well as the internment of thousands of Japanese-Americans. The Red Scares, both during World War I and the 1950's, led to a hysteria in which foreign agents were thought to have infiltrated the highest levels of American society. Today, government critics such as the American Civil Liberties Union carefully track the direct effect of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the nation's immigration policy and civil liberties.
"This is a shocking violation of my client's civil liberties, and a gross abuse of police power," said Ross. "This is another sad failure of the American justice system at the hands of the current administration-just look at Duarnis Perez."
Perez, a United States citizen, recently made national headlines when he was released from federal custody after having been mistakenly deported to the Dominican Republic. He was naturalized through his mother at the age of 15, but remained unaware of his status. He was mistakenly deported in 1994, and arrested and detained when he attempted to return in 2000. Perez remained imprisoned for more than three years, and was not informed of his citizenship status until 2004. A federal judge recently ruled that Perez never should have been deported and rebuked government prosecutors for their behavior throughout the proceedings.
Carlos Rivera, a local community leader and vice president of a community organization in Lynn, says that immigrants in his community are law-abiding citizens. He says that the deportation of Eustaquio Juarez is a "grand injustice," and urges immigrants "to reach for their rights and not to be intimidated." He recommends that immigrants "look for professional help in skilled attorneys." Rivera has provided community service in Lynn, Massachusetts for nearly 20 years.
Ross remains determined to seek justice for Eustaquio Juarez.
"I am at a loss to understand how ICE believed that it was entitled to act against a federal court order. We are doing everything we can to seek the return of Mr. Juarez to the United States as soon as possible," he said.
The duty agent directly responsible for Juarez's deportation, Steve Heide, claims that it is not the government's responsibility to determine the immigration status of aliens in custody before they are deported. "We get so many people coming through here that we can't check them all," the Dallas ICE officer said. "We have no way of knowing."
When asked why he didn't simply dial the government's public toll-free immigration status hotline before the final execution of the removal order to ensure that there was no stay of removal in place, Hayden's reply was brief. "We don't do that," he said.
Eustaquio Juarez says that he repeatedly warned ICE that they were making a mistake. "I kept telling them that I had a lawyer working on the case," said Juarez. "I told them that my case was being reopened, but they wouldn't listen, instead I was ridiculed."
The government's mistake in the Juarez matter closely resembles a British immigration scandal condemned by a High Court justice last month. In the wake of the deportation of a Turkish mother of three in direct violation of a court order prohibiting her removal from Britain, the judge ruled that the government's behavior was "quite extraordinary." Justice Collins further determined that immigration enforcement officials had acted "willy-nilly" in a way that led to a "total failure to comply" with their own regulations.
The High Court's ruling was considered a serious blow to Britain's Immigration and Nationality Directorate, which was immediately condemned as "not fit for purpose" by Home Secretary John Reid.
Jeff Ross, Esq. is a principal at the Ross Law Firm in Boston, Massachusetts. Mr. Ross served as law clerk to Hon. A Leon Higginbotham, Jr. Emeritus, 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals and Hon. Timothy M. Boudewyns, U.S. District Court, District of Rhode Island. He held a research position at Harvard University and consulted at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison in New York. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Guatemalan Association of Massachusetts as well as a former Trustee for the U.S.-Guatemala Chamber of Commerce of New England. Mr. Ross is Fluent in French, Spanish and Portuguese and can be reached at JRoss@Ross-Law.com.
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