[Marxism] Texan jailed as illegal immigrant
sabocat59 at mac.com
Fri Aug 31 04:48:38 MDT 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Texan is jailed as illegal immigrant
By PATRICK McGEE
Star-Telegram staff writer
A native Texan spent the night in the Arlington Jail, missed her
children's first day of school and feared being deported after
authorities mistook her for an illegal immigrant.
Alicia Rodriguez, an accountant and mother of three, has the same
name and date of birth as a woman deported to Mexico three times.
"I was told I was waiting for an [immigration] officer or Border
Patrol officer to interview me and then move me to another location.
It was very scary," the Mansfield woman said.
Arlington and federal immigration officials say they made a mistake
"This is very unusual," Arlington police spokeswoman Christy Gilfour
said "We're not aware of this having happened before. We do realize
that this is unfortunate, and we do regret that we made an error."
Gilfour said police overlooked fingerprints that would have shown
Rodriguez was not the illegal immigrant.
Rodriguez said she does not plan to sue, but apologies do not make up
for what she was put through.
"I think it's ridiculous. I think it was obvious that I wasn't an
illegal immigrant," she said.
Rodriguez's case demonstrates the need for a balanced approach
between enforcement and immigration reform, said Marisol Perez, an
attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
"We want to uphold the laws of the country, but we want to balance
that with individual rights," she said.
Earlier this year, authorities wrongly deported U.S. citizen Pedro
Guzman, a developmentally disabled man from California. It took his
family three months to find him.
Law enforcement experts say similar situations may happen again as
the government creates more databases of names to fight illegal
immigration, terrorism and other crimes.
"Part of the dynamic is when you identify the right person, they also
say they didn't do it," said Jack McDevitt, associate criminal
justice dean at Northeastern University in Boston. "So police are
used to running into people who say, 'This isn't me, I didn't do it.'"
Identified as illegal
Arlington police pulled Rodriguez over and arrested her Sunday night
after running her license-plate number.
She had warrants from Dalworthington Gardens for having no insurance
during a stop in that city and failure to appear in court for the
Rodriguez said the charges are valid, and she was willing to pay a
fine and bail to get out of jail.
But when she got to the jail, the Arlington police computer told
officers that they had a woman who was in the country illegally.
Gilfour said Rodriguez's name and date of birth matched. The height
was off by an inch. The weight was off by 25 pounds, but the
information was last updated in 1999.
Police arranged for Rodriguez to have a telephone interview with
Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Rodriguez said the ICE officer was "very hostile" to her, refusing to
believe her when she said she was born in Dallas.
Rodriguez said the person on the other end of line sternly told her
that she was speaking to a federal agent and had to answer truthfully
or risk committing perjury.
"At the time, I thought someone with my name had committed some
horrible crime," Rodriguez said.
ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said the illegal immigrant Alicia Rodriguez
had at least three claims of false citizenship on her record. That
record may have led officials to doubt the Alicia Rodriguez they had
in custody when she said she was born in Dallas.
In jail overnight
Rodriguez's sister, Deborah Evans, came to the Arlington Jail with
cash to pay any fines or bail only to learn that her sister was being
held as an illegal immigrant.
"I said, 'What do you mean? She's my sister. We were born here in
Texas, in Dallas,'" Evans said. "I was shocked they were telling me
Rodriguez spent the night in jail sleeping on a mat on the floor with
a cellmate. Another sister stayed with her three children, and her ex-
husband took them to school the next day.
On Monday, she was transferred to Dalworthington Gardens Jail, where
she had a panic attack when authorities told her immigration
officials would come pick her up -- eventually.
"They told me it could take up to two days to move me to the next
location which to me just meant it was going to be endless,"
Rodriguez said. She said police gave her oxygen to calm her
Evans went to the Dalworthington Gardens Jail, showed officials her
sister's birth certificate and tried again to convince officials that
her sister was a U.S. citizen.
"I was frightened that she was going to be deported right then" to
Mexico, Evans said. "We don't speak Spanish. What was she going to
do, and how was I going to get there?"
After trying unsuccessfully to get her sister released, Evans said
she left for an appointment.
Dalworthington Gardens Sgt. David Henderson said an officer there
discovered Rodriguez had a driver's license and Social Security
number. Dalworthington Gardens officials eventually started working
for her release, Rodriguez said.
They finally let her out at about 3 p.m. Monday.
She walked about 3 miles to get her impounded car before her sister
could pick her up. Rodriguez said the whole experience was a nightmare.
"I feel like it's a political byproduct of the whole illegal
immigration thing," she said, "not that illegal immigrants shouldn't
be dealt with, but I'm a citizen."
pmcgee at star-telegram.com
Patrick McGee, 817-685-3806
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