Cases Proceeding Against Suspected Illegal Immigrants

Cases proceeding against suspected illegal immigrants

By Karen Lee Ziner
The Providence Journal, August 31, 2008

Legal cases are proceeding on different fronts for the 31 janitors arrested during last months immigration raids at state courthouses.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested the janitors — from Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico — on July 15, and detained them on administrative charges of being in the country illegally. All 31 worked for either TriState Enterprises or Falcon Maintenance, which had contracts to clean more than four dozen state buildings, including the courthouses.

Four of those detainees have since been criminally charged with document fraud. A fugitive warrant was issued for one of those four detainees after she failed to show up for a court hearing, according to the U.S. Attorney s office.

The remaining cases are being handled by different attorneys: some pro-bono, and some private.

Many will seek voluntary departure, which allows detainees to leave the United States voluntarily and report to their consulate upon return to their home country. If they fail to do so, fugitive warrants are issued for their arrest.

Voluntary departure generally shortens the waiting period for a person to apply for a valid re-entry visa. However, if an immigration judge orders a person deported, the person is generally removed from the country quickly and prohibited from re-applying to return legally to the U.S. for at least 10 years.

Nancy J. Kelly, senior attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services, said that agency is representing four detainees on a pro-bono basis.

All four were bonded out of detention, and they re in proceedings, and court hearings are scheduled in September, Kelley said. There s one person who is being represented by our office who may file for political asylum.

Providence attorney Alison Foley is also handling four cases on a pro-bono basis. Several of those clients may press political asylum cases, she said, and one client may seek permanent residency.

Providence attorney Lidia Sanchez said she is handling one, and possibly two, detainee cases. One client, a Mexican national, has a court hearing scheduled this week, she said.

We re going to be requesting voluntary departure, she said, because the man s circumstances do not qualify for cancellation of removal, even though he has a child here who was born in the United States.

John Ruginski Jr., a Providence lawyer and one of the private attorneys handling courthouse cases, has said his client will press a claim for cancellation of deportation, based on extreme and unusual hardship.