ST. LOUIS - The attorney for a longtime St. Louis County resident facing deportation claims that immigration authorities are unfairly pressuring her client and threatening to deport her before a pending court case could be decided.
The wife and mother has been in the U.S. illegally for years but is married, has an American-born child and has been paying taxes.
I think it`s a waste of government resources and it`s definitely improper treatment of immigrants, said attorney Evita Tolu criticizing the latest actions of immigration authorities against her client 48-year-old Ilsa Guzman-Fajardo.
Guzman was issued a warning for failure to depart and it could get her years in jail.
The latest developments unfolded after Guzman was brought today from the Pulaski County Detention Center in southern Illinois to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement or 'ICE' office in downtown St. Louis.
Tolu tells us authorities wanted Guzman to call Honduran officials and ask for travel documents so she can be flown back to her native country of Honduras.
We`re told illegal immigrants have to assist in their own deportations.
When Ilsa wouldn`t cooperate, she was issued the warning, which she would not sign.
That`s not all.
Tolu also says an 'ICE' agent told her that they would deport Guzman even though Tolu has a pending court motion to try and rescind the original deportation order in this case.
Tolu tells us any deportation when her motion is still pending would be illegal.
The law is pretty clear you cannot deport a person unless there is an order or decision on the motion to rescind,” said Tolu.
She added, “Filing motion to rescind with the immigration court automatically stays removal proceedings from the United States.”
Many viewers have asked what Guzman did to try and become a legal U.S. citizen between the time she came across at the San Ysidro, California checkpoint in 1999 and when 'ICE' officials tracked her down at her job in 2014.
We posed that question to Tolu.
She says after applying for asylum at the border, Guzman came to St. Louis and applied for temporary protective status or 'TPS'...another way to remain in the U.S.
She gave immigration officials her St. Louis address at that time but missed the 'TPS' application deadline by a month.
Tolu says Guzman continued to call immigration authorities asking about her asylum case.
She also reached out for legal help from other agencies.
But she never got answers from anyone.
In fact, Tolu says Guzman didn`t know there was a deportation order against her until 2014.
That order prevented her from getting any kind of legal status in the U.S.
Tolu says Guzman never tried to hide from authorities and she will keep fighting for her.
“'I know I`m fighting the Goliath here. But I have to do what I have to do,” said Tolu.
Since her arrest last week, Guzman has been in two different jails and has been taken back and forth from jails to the 'ICE' office several times.
An 'ICE' spokesperson says officials are required to try and put illegal immigrants in touch with representatives from their native country.
That spokesperson also tells us that the only order 'ICE' has from a judge is the deportation order and unless they get another order regarding the pending motion they are moving forward with the deportation.