Saturday, March 07, 2009

Florida Woman Helping Police Investigate Crime Turned Over For Deportation

Rita Cote is an immigrant in Tavares, Florida who spent two weeks in detention and is now threatened with deportation after helping the police investigate a crime.

Tavares Police came to a house to investigate a criminal issue -- an altercation between Rita Cote's sister and the sister's boyfriend. She was trying to help the police by giving language interpretation between the police and her sister. The police ended up not arresting the sister's boyfriend and instead arresting Rita Cote, the woman helping them investigate the possible crime. They held Ms. Cote (who is married to a United States citizen and the mother of three United States citizen children) for more than a week before handing them to ICE, which continued to hold her in detention.

ICE released her after around two weeks after the local police first arrested her and ICE started a case in immigration court in Orlando, Florida. News coverage of the case include a story by Victor Manuel Ramos in the Orlando Sentinel titled Immigration Mother Returns To Family While Deportation Case is Heard, which was printed on March 5, 2009.

The case is reminiscent in some ways of a New Jersey immigrant who called local police and successfully helped the local police investigate a crime and catch the criminals, but then turned the informant over to ICE for deportation. In that case, ICE pursued deportation and obtained a deportation order, which ICE continued to pursue before the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Third Circuit. ICE continues its efforts to deport the crime informant in New Jersey, despite requests to consider how local police turned over a crime informant.

It appears from the NJ case that ICE actively seeks to deport crime witnesses and crime informants. We'll see from the Florida case whether ICE continues to try to deport immigrants who help the police investigate crimes. There is a good reason that immigrants are afraid to call the police to help them fight crime and catch criminals.


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