by Private Investigator Michael Ferrari:
April 28, 2014
Jose Guadalupe Ramirez-Cervantes has lived in the United States for 18 years. He has been married to the same woman for 20 years, has a son in college in Mexico, an 18 year old daughter, 13 year old identical twin sons, and a 3 year old son.
Jose and his children are bi-lingual. The mom, Carmen, speaks very little English.
The parents are better “citizens” than most actual U.S. citizens. They are hard-working and were reluctant to accept assistance, and Jose insists that everyone helping keep track of what he owes them so he can pay them back when he is released. As another example, when I last visited him he told me that $300 had mysteriously appeared in his commissary account, which had only had $5 in it. He said he couldn’t touch it because it was not his. The church had deposited it, and Jose only reluctantly agreed to use it only if he is deported.
The family has lived in the area for 16 years, and moved to Pleasanton so the children could attend good schools. For 15 years, Jose has worked at a McDonald’s in Livermore where he was assistant store manager (and would be welcomed back).
His problems with ICE began 11 months ago when he was arrested for a very minor domestic violence incident (a slap). He has no prior criminal record (not fully verified). Even though Alameda County supposedly only reports persons who have serious violent crimes to ICE through the Secure Communities program, an ICE hold was placed.
Without being able to notify his family, he was transferred to federal custody in a contracted facility, the Contra Costa Sheriff’s West County Detention Facility in Richmond.
I became involved in November when contacted by the pastor of a church asking if I could try to stop the eviction of his family from their two bedroom apartment. Mom had fallen into clinical depression, and had ignored the notices — the eviction was already scheduled by the Alameda SO. I got the SO to hold off for a few days.
We later found out that one of the boys had figured out what was going on and was arrested for shoplifting to try to get money to pay the rent. I got him into a diversion program. Both boys are now attending church youth activities, and enjoying them. Several church members are acting as father figures.
The manager of the apartments confirmed that until Jose was jailed, there was no problem with the family. It was only after his arrest that the twins began hanging out with older, rougher kids.
Until the daughter reached out to the church, Carmen had not started preparing for the move. I visited with the pastor, who is bi-lingual. The church arranged to put their things in storage, and for lodging at a nice motel which served continental breakfast. The church also arranged for supplemental food. The pastor asked Carmen how she imagined life in 5 years. She replied: I want my children to have a stable home, I want them to do good in school and be able to earn a better living than me, and I want to speak English.
I contacted every DV program which offered transitional housing. Even with the help of a county supervisor’s office, they are still on a waiting list. One housing specialist said that there was a perfect 3 bedroom unit which had just become available. It was reserved for persons with physical disability.
Since there was no one with disability waiting for it, the city suggested that they could just “mistakenly” answer that there was a disabled person and the place would be theirs. Carmen refused because a disabled person might need it.
As far as the legal saga:
Before I was involved, Jose was asked to translate between a private attorney and his client because there were no jail interpreters available. The attorney said he would take Jose’s case and Jose could pay when he was released on bond.
Jose had one prior deportation, years ago, because apparently he fell victim to one of those fake “immigration counselor / attorneys.” He has a social security card and driver license bearing his name (How hard would it be for the feds to weed out these slimy operations?).
When I contacted the attorney, he said they were pursuing an asylum exemption because Jose had left Mexico under threat of death. The family had provided a police report. The attorney declined my offer to, pro bono, look further into that, and to verify the circumstances of the DV, perhaps even getting a statement from the officers involved. The attorney felt he had all that was needed at the time, but did say he would use me as a conduit to communicate with Jose.
After an extended period where the family, Jose and I had not heard from the attorney, I got through to counsel. He explained that bond had been denied, and that Jose was found to be deportable, but the attorney was filing an appeal. I went to see Jose and learned that the attorney had not been to see him, nor had he received any written communication from the attorney.
I prepared a Declaration regarding the non-communication, and his daughter sent it to the court with a cover letter she wrote explaining to the Court, in effect, that her Dad had ineffective assistance of counsel.
I am absolutely amazed, after President Obama’s instructions that discretion should be used in selecting deportees, that people like Jose are still being subjected to the proceedings. Obama identified the combination of characteristics for those for whom discretion should be used:
1. Alien with minor children who are citizens;
2. Alien is supporting the children/family
3. No significant criminal record
4. Long-time resident in the U.S.
Who’s waiting in line for these kinds of jobs?
I don’t know if the President identified #4 specifically, but long time residence without problems is about the best confirmation that someone is a good candidate for being a citizen (Someone who “waits in line” is still a dice roll as to their U.S. residency will progress). I would also note that with all of the changes in law, such as random changes in what constitutes a legal gun, plus mandatory reporting laws coupled with in essence treating DV as seriously, in some cases more seriously, than some violent felonies, nowadays, it is pretty hard for anyone to reach age 30 without having some kind of criminal record.
The bottom line is that despite the president’s guidance, depending on which statistics are quoted, 50 to 70 percent of persons deported are without a record of serious criminal conduct. Somehow, despite Alameda County guidelines on who to report, and supposed guidance on discretion by ICE, it is mostly people like Jose who are being deported.
If this is happening in San Francisco, it makes you wonder what the government is doing with “illegals” in other districts — shooting them on sight? All of the immigration attorneys say there is no logical pattern. Some suggested that if ICE and local law enforcement don’t keep the “flow” up, there would be lay-offs (This is somewhat supported by the fact that both Alameda and Contra Costa counties have surplus jail space, even after “renting” to other agencies).
Beside the humanitarian issues, it makes no sense for the taxpayer. Jose stopped contributing to the economy; his family is now receiving social services (despite Carmen working three low-pay jobs); the kids are facing more challenges. Since Co Co County has work furlough and gps monitoring programs, I cannot fathom the logic in having Jose remain in custody all of this time.
Once denied bond and then further asylum proceedings, “jailhouse lawyers” advised both Jose and his family that it would be easier and better for his family if he accepted deportation and just returned. Jose refused, because he was tired of being illegal, and thought — based on what Obama said — he would ultimately prevail in court.
Anyhow, I believe this family has a compelling story. They are grateful to now be sharing a one bedroom apartment.
TAKE ACTION–Jan B. Tucker
Email President Barack Obama and ask him to halt the deportation of Jose Guadalupe Ramirez-Cervantes: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments
Write ICE and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and ask them to stop the deportation of Ramirez-Cervantes:
To contact ICE leadership, please write to
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas S. Winkowski
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
500 12th St., SW
Washington, D.C. 20536
To contact DHS leadership, please write to
Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528