Wednesday, May 4, 2011

DHS Releases US Citizen George Ibarra From Eloy Detention Center

On February 22, 2011, an immigration judge ruled that Mr. George Ibarra had by a "preponderance of the evidence" proven he was a U.S. citizen and thus terminated his deportation order, and yet Mr. Ibarra remained in solitary confinement in the Eloy Detention Center pending the decision's appeal by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Yesterday afternoon, a week after information about his plight was posted on this blog and distributed by the Bender's Immigration Blog, edited by Daniel Kowalski, authorities from the Department of Homeland Security released Mr. Ibarra.

Mr. Ibarra's pro bono attorney, Luis Parra, said that his client had received no information on the reason for his release and that Mr. Parra had seen no legal documents to account for the shift in the DHS determination of his client's custody.

At present Mr. Ibarra is in legal limbo. The immigration judge has declared him a U.S. citizen, but he's still in the DHS database as a deported criminal alien and subject to arrest. "He's going to have to be very careful out there," Mr. Parra said, "It's not like he's carrying around a paper saying he's a U.S. citizen," although he does have a minute entry from immigration judge Richard Phelps that terminates the deportation order on grounds of Mr. Parra's U.S. citizenship.

Mr. Parra decided to help Mr. Ibarra, a veteran, after reading a posting about him on an Arizona listserve and sympathizing with his predicament. "I knew about his situation because I'm a veteran and I understand the plight of Persian Gulf war vets who served in the 91 war." Mr. Parra and Mr. Ibarra both did active duty in the region and saw combat. As a result of Mr. Ibarra's misclassification as a criminal alien he was not only locked up, deported twice -- in 1998 and in 2005 -- but he also lost his veterans benefits.

I am presently waiting for Mr. Ibarra to sign a privacy waiver so that ICE can share information about the details of his release and the DHS position more generally on incarcerating folks after immigration judges rule they are U.S. citizens.

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