Children of Immigrant Deported to Mexico Speak Out: ‘She Belongs With Us’

Guadalupe García de Rayos’ children spoke out in Phoenix on Thursday about watching their mother’s sudden deportation, while immigrants’ rights advocates warned that similar cases are likely to follow across the country. “No one should ever go through the pain of having their mom taken away from them,” García de Rayos’ 14-year-old daughter, Jacqueline, said at a press conference.

Awarded the 10 best by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys.

Congratulations to our attorney Ray Ybarra Maldonado for being awarded the “10 Best” award by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys. Ray is one of the few attorneys in the state that has attained not guilty verdicts following jury trials in both state and federal court, won criminal law appeals to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and attained complete dismissals of all felony charges following motions to suppress/dismiss filed in Federal Court. This award is for Client Satisfaction, and attorney Ray wishes to thank all of his team for their commitment to compassion and excellence when dealing with our family members who are facing serious charges. Our office strives not only for victories in the courtroom, but for creating an environment where family members of those detained feel listened to, respected, and a part of the solution.

Civil-rights group files suit to end Arpaio workplace raids

Originally Posted on: azcentral

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s last standing avenue for illegal-immigration enforcement is now being challenged in federal court.

A local civil-rights organization on Wednesday filed a lawsuit to end Arpaio’s trademark workplace raids, an often-touted law-enforcement effort that has led to the arrests of hundreds of immigrant workers since 2008.

The suit names Arpaio, County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Robert Halliday and Maricopa County as defendants and challenges the constitutionality of two state laws that plaintiffs say target and victimize immigrants.

The laws, which prohibit “taking (the) identity of another person or entity” and “aggravated taking (the) identity of another person or entity,” are class-four and class-three felonies, respectively.

To date, Arpaio’s Criminal Employment Squad has conducted 83 operations and netted 782 suspects. Although suspects are arrested under state identity theft and forgery laws, plaintiffs say the raids are thinly veiled efforts to promote a larger political agenda.

“Their enforcement campaign has separated breadwinners from their families, suppressed workers’ rights, eroded the social fabric of the community and ultimately harmed many U.S. citizens as well as immigrants,” the complaint reads.

The suit is spearheaded by Puente Arizona, a grassroots human-rights organization. Additional plaintiffs include two women arrested and convicted of felony identity theft as a result of the raids, and Reverend Susan E. Frederick-Gray, a Maricopa County taxpayer who maintains that enforcement of the Arizona statutes is an illegal expenditure of county dollars.

Puente Arizona director Carlos Garcia said the victims of the raids are not limited to those arrested: the Sheriff’s Office has engendered a culture of constant fear and intimidation for immigrant workers and families across the county, he said.

“The fear that children have that their parents might not come home from work that day is something you can’t explain,” Garcia said. “Someone gets caught in traffic and doesn’t get home at the time they usually do — kids are thinking they’re going to watch their parents on TV get raided.”

The plaintiffs are asking a federal judge to deem the laws unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment and to enter a permanent injunction prohibiting the county from further enforcing them.

Both state laws being challenged “were promulgated as part of a broader platform favored by Arizona nativists to make life so difficult for immigrants coming from Mexico and Latin America that they would ‘self-deport’,” the lawsuit states.

The Criminal Employment Squad is the only illegal-immigration enforcement effort Arpaio has left.

Deputies were stripped of their authority to act as federal immigration agents on the streets and then later in the jails. A recent racial-profiling lawsuit prompted a federal court order that curtails enforcement through traffic stops, as well; deputies are prohibited from stopping cars or detaining people based solely on the basis of suspected unlawful presence in the country.

A separate, broad-reaching discrimination lawsuit brought on by the U.S. Department of Justice is currently making its way through the federal court system and focuses on traffic stops, unlawful detentions, unconstitutional searches and seizures, as well as workplace raids.

Workers Request Immediate halt to Arpaio’s Workplace Raids Pending Outcome of Court Case

Originally posted on:
August 7, 2014

Plaintiffs Ask Court for a Preliminary Injunction of Enforcement of State Laws on which Raids are Based

August 7, 2014

CONTACT: 212-549-2666,

PHOENIX – Workers with the immigrant rights group Puente—joined by the Reverend Susan Frederick-Gray and lawyers with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, the University of California, Irvine School of Law’s Immigrant Rights Clinic and the Law Office of Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado—today asked a federal court to stop the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) from using two contested state felony identity theft laws that target immigrant workers pending the outcome of the group’s constitutional challenge.

The class-action lawsuit, Puente Arizona v. Arpaio, was filed by the groups in June. It challenges Maricopa County’s enforcement of two state laws passed by Arizona legislators in 2007 and 2008 that turn immigrants into felons for working to provide for their families. Since then, MCSO has arrested over 790 workers under the laws.

“Our members go to work, knowing that they might not make it home if Arpaio and Montgomery decide to strike with another raid. We can’t wait any longer for the raids to stop. Every day that MCSO and MCAO unfairly target our communities is a day too long. We need immediate relief from the harm that the raids are causing,” said Carlos Garcia of the plaintiff organization Puente.

“Plaintiffs are entitled to a preliminary injunction to halt enforcement of these unjust and unconstitutional laws. MCSO and MCAO cannot violate workers’ rights with impunity, and we expect the Court to soon make that ruling,” said attorney Jessica Karp Bansal with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), which is representing plaintiffs.

“The only reason I don’t have a DACA work permit now is because I was arrested in a raid while working to pay for my application. I was kept in Arpaio’s jail for three months, away from my family, without knowing what would happen to me.  I don’t think anyone else should have to go through what I went through because of Arpaio and Montgomery,” said Noemi Romero, a Puente member who provided a statement in support of the group’s request.

“We will continue to fight state and local officials who reject the best of what this country should stand for,” said Dan Pochoda, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona and co-counsel for plaintiffs. “This lawsuit is a needed antidote to the clamor for more deportations and the sacrifice of constitutional rights in the process.”

Additional plaintiffs in the case include Glendale resident Sara Cervantes Arreola and Phoenix resident Guadalupe Arredondo. The suit alleges that two Arizona statutes, A.R.S. § 13-2008 and § 13-2009, are preempted by federal law and violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. A full list of attorneys on the case includes Professors Annie Lai and Sameer Ashar of the UCI Law Immigrant Rights Clinic; Jessica Karp of NDLON; Dan Pochoda of the ACLU Foundation of Arizona; and Ray Ybarra Maldonado of the Law Office of Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado.

Plaintiffs’ proposed brief in support of their request for a preliminary injunction can be downloaded here.

Interviews with plaintiffs and attorneys are available upon request.

ID-theft laws may be vulnerable in court

Originally posted on azcentral:

The state identity-theft laws challenged in last week’s federal lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and others have been challenged previously by defense attorneys in court. Those initial results, attorneys say, are promising.

The two state laws in question, “taking identity of another person or entity” and “aggravated taking identity of another person or entity,” are frequently cited as the legal backing behind Arpaio’s workplace raids.

The suit alleges that the statutes, while purporting to enforce all varieties of identity theft, are thinly veiled mechanisms used to promote a broader, anti-immigration agenda.

Arpaio defends his practices and maintains that his investigations target identity thieves regardless of their immigration status.

Since its inception in 2008, the Sheriff’s Criminal Employment Squad has arrested and booked over 780 suspects for charges related to forgery and identity theft.

The vast majority of those arrested under the ID theft laws, through Arpaio’s workplace investigations or otherwise, were convicted, according to data from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

In a sample of 2,500 cases, some of which include more than one defendant, only six defendants were acquitted after going to trial.

Most will ultimately accept a prosecutor’s deal and plead guilty, either to the charged Class 3 or Class 4 felonies or to a lesser charge, such as Class 6 felony criminal impersonation, said Ray Ybarra Maldonado, the local plaintiffs’ attorney on the lawsuit.

He said the standard sentencing agreement is 90 days in jail, a felony record and probation.

It’s a tempting offer, Ybarra Maldonado said, given that the alternative requires defendants to wait out their trials behind bars.

Under Arizona’s Proposition 100, those who are in the country illegally are not eligible for bail if they are accused of a “serious” felony, classified as a Class 4 felony or lower.

“It’s essentially a deal, because if you want to take your case to trial, you’re probably going to be sitting in Arpaio’s jail for more than 90 days,” Ybarra Maldonado said.

But felony records may create a virtually impenetrable barrier for an undocumented immigrant to obtain the legal right to live and work in the U.S.

It was for this reason that Miguel Angel Morales-Sedano, a father and husband of a U.S. citizen, decided instead to take his chances with a jury.

He was charged with identity theft and forgery after a Sept. 27, 2012, raid at United Construction Group in Glendale.

Ybarra Maldonado represented Morales-Sedano in that case and filed a motion to dismiss the charges based on pre-emption of the federal government.

“The state of Arizona has simply created a mechanism by which they can arrest, detain and prosecute undocumented individuals for ‘working illegally’ in the country,” the motion stated. “Such actions are the exclusive domain of the federal government.”

The case went to trial, and a jury found Morales-Sedano not guilty based on reasonable doubt that he was the one who provided the false documentation.

The judge’s and jury’s responses to the state’s case emboldenedYbarra Maldonado and others to take these arguments on pre-emption a step further.

Plaintiffs in the suit are grassroots human-rights organization Puente Arizona, two women arrested and convicted of felony identity theft and Reverend Susan E. Frederick-Gray, a Maricopa County taxpayer who says enforcement of these statutes is an illegal expenditure of county dollars.

Along with Arpaio, County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Maricopa County and Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Robert Halliday, are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Q&A about the new ID-theft lawsuit

Question: What will happen if the plaintiffs are successful?

Answer: The plaintiffs are asking for a permanent injunction that would prohibit Maricopa County from further enforcing the two named ID-theft laws, and a permanent injunction prohibiting Maricopa County from using documents associated with employment verification as a basis for law-enforcement efforts.

Essentially, the state could no longer enforce the ID-theft laws commonly used in workplace raids. The suit also asks that a judge order the defendants to expunge the records of the two plaintiffs who were convicted under these laws.

Q: I am using a fictitious Social Security number for my employment. Can I still be arrested?

A: Yes. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio pledged in a recent news conference to continue to enforce the state laws against identity theft. Under the current statute, using a false Social Security number, whether it is attached to a real or a fictitious person, is a felony.

Q: I have been convicted under one of these laws. If the plaintiffs are successful, does this mean my convictions will be vacated?

A: Probably not automatically, saidRay Ybarra Maldonado, the local plaintiffs’ attorney on the lawsuit. “They would have to file some sort of motion to vacate, using our victory as a legal precedent,” he said.

Q: What if I pleaded to a lesser charge?

A: This will probably not affect those who pleaded to a lesser charge,Ybarra Maldonado said.

Q: Could Arpaio still conduct workplace raids based on forgery charges?

A: “That’s going to be up to how broad the ruling is from the district court,” Ybarra Maldonado said. In an interview, Arpaio said he would continue to enforce state forgery laws.

Q: Does this mean that I could still be arrested and charged by the federal government?

A: “Without a doubt,” Ybarra Maldonado said. “This is not a challenge for the federal government’s authority to do what Congress tells them they can do.” However, he noted that federal workplace raids are significantly less frequent and tend to go after employers, rather than the employees.

“It’s not by any means an approval of the federal government doing these raids, but it is pretty telling that what the state government does is the exact opposite of what the federal government does,” Ybarra Maldonado said.

Q: I’m currently using a fake ID to buy alcohol. Will this affect me?

A: No. “There’s a specific statute going toward those minors, and they aren’t being addressed at all in the lawsuit,” Ybarra Maldonado said.

Q: After an ID-theft conviction, I am on a priority list for removal from the country by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If this lawsuit is successful, will this remove me from the list or place me lower on it?

A: Plaintiff’s attorneys are hopeful that this would be the case, but history hasn’t proved promising, Ybarra Maldonado said.

After the plaintiff’s recent victory in a racial-profiling lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office, attorneys attempted to use this as an argument to curb prioritized deportations.

“ICE just kind of seemed to ignore that argument,” Ybarra Maldonado said.

ICE officials do not comment on pending litigation.