Saturday, March 23, 2019

Back on Rafael's Deportation Case

Rafael Valdez has been deported by the United States
government, even though he's married to an American wife and
has two American children.
I'm back on the deportation case of Rafael Valdez. If you don't remember, my client was picked up at a traffic stop around August of 2009. He was ordered to do community service, but twice, his community service officer didn't show up. Thus, Rafael, was about one or two hours short of finishing his service, but by no fault of his own, his parole officer ordered him to spend 24 hours in Ellensberg jail.

According to Rafael, at Ellensberg jail, he was questioned if he was illegal.

He wasn't told his rights about having a lawyer present or his right to remain silent. In fact, his interrogating officer told him that unless he told the truth, his life would be worse. He admitted to being undocumented, and the next thing he knows, along with other Latinos, he was shipped to ICE Detention Center in Yakima. Apparently, Ellensberg is a town that's often targeted by ICE.

From there, ICE began deportation proceedings against him, even though he was married to an American woman and had one child. (A second one would be coming later.) Although all he had was a traffic violation, ICE ordered the low-income family to put up a $10,000 bond. This was a huge hardship on them, as Rafael was a kitchen hand at local restaurant in Kirkland.

The first lawyer applied for asylum, which was subsequently denied by the immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeal in May and August 2013, respectively.

After becoming licensed as an attorney in June of 2013, I picked up the case. Options were limited for the family, especially because he was already ordered deported. The family was low on funds.

But, I pled with the supervising, under prosecutorial discretion, ICE prosecutor Jonathan Love to let me client go. He refused.

So, I pled with the Chief ICE Prosecutor, Rafael Sanchez. He refused as well.

My client was deported in September of 2013. Because of their family situation, they had to take their new born baby and their daughter to Mexico too. In the meantime, his brother Lorenzo was kidnapped and ransomed.

This wasn't taken into account for his asylum case. Sadly, death and killings surround this family in Mexico. When Rafael was 7, his own father was killed under suspicious circumstances. In April 10, 2010, Rafael's in law was shot in the chest. Reasons are not known.

I visited the family for three days back in August of 2015 to gather evidence of the growing violence near Rafael's hometown. Several people were being kidnapped, and one man was shot in the chest after his house door was kicked down.

He later applied for asylum in September 2015 in San Diego. In December 7, 2015, again, immigration judge Robert McSeveney said that my client didn't establish a probability that he would be persecuted based on his race, religion, or political affiliation.

Remember Jonathan Love, the prosecuting attorney? Then in January of 2016, Jonathan Love was charged and convicted of forging documents to deport a Mexican back.

Remember Rafael Sanchez? In June of 2018, Sanchez was convicted of stealing the identities of those he was deporting in order to take out personal loans and Amazon purchases. In other words, he was deporting people, to get richer through identity theft.

I've been doing Freedom of Information Act requests to see if my client was a victim. Shelly M. O'Hara has been refusing to release records. It appears she's stonewalling me from getting them.

O'Hara states I haven't submitted the authorization form called DOJ361, but I've submitted it to her six times already.

What are they hiding?

A preliminary background search has shown that Sanchez was buried in debt. He lost his Pennsylvania condo in a foreclose sheriff auction back in 2013. Also, at least one Rafael A. Sanchez in Seattle, borrowed over half a million through various credit unions, one of them being the Boeing Employee Credit Union.

How did he do this, when he wasn't a Boeing employee at the time? Why didn't the federal government release these records? How many other victims are out there? The federal government says there are at least 7, but these other findings make this hard to believe.

From Ellensberg to the Seattle deportations, this case appears to be a larger fraud ring, in which deportations were being done for cash.

Who else was involved?

How much did they get?

Where am I now? I'm back on the case. I need the federal records. I plan to file a motion to reopen the case around the end of May.

What can you do? I've been this entire case voluntarily over the five and a half years. I've spent close to over 650 hours on this case. It's a full time case. So, if you can contribute to any of the legal fees that would help.

If you're a person of faith, please pray that we can get the family back together in the United States. If you're moved by the story, please pass this story along so that people know how our federal government is behaving during these times.

That's it for now.

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