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Saturday, July 24, 2010

ICE Raids U.S. Citizen

Carbondale Man Handcuffed, Threatened With Deportation
By Jaclyn Allen
ABC 7 News (Denver)
July 21, 2010

CARBONDALE, Colo. -- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents raided a Carbondale man's home and threatened to deport him last week.

The problem is, he is a U.S. Citizen.

"It was six in the morning, and I was still sleeping and I heard the knocking," said Marco Guevara.

When he opened the door, immigration agents quickly offered him a one-way ticket back to Ecuador.

"I was pretty sure they didn't want my family to know. They just wanted to take me in and make me disappear," said Guevara.

He said when he turned to call to his parents, he was tackled and handcuffed.

Carbondale police and sheriff's deputies teamed up with ICE agents last week for a series of gang sweeps. But in at least one case, their information was apparently wrong.

Guevara said he is a U.S. citizen with a valid U.S. passport which he's used to leave the country and return twice.

He said agents wouldn't listen to him, though, and his stepmother had to step in.

"I'm white. I speak fluent English," said Laurie Guevara-Stone. "There's just a lot of prejudice and racism and most people don't have someone like me in the house who can actually talk to these agents and make them calm down."

An ICE spokesman would not comment on the raid but released a statement to 7NEWS saying, "The ICE agent and sheriff's deputies on site acted appropriately and professionally. The incident is under investigation."

Brendan Greene with Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition said ICE agents "didn't have a leg to stand on."

"By act of law, if you're under the age of 18 when your parents become a citizen, you automatically become a citizen," said Greene.

He said Marco's father became a naturalized citizen in 2003 when Marco was 17.

"Unfortunately, it's something we see all too often with some of the ICE enforcement operations because of faulty databases that ICE uses to identify immigrants," said Greene. "In any other database a five to ten percent error rate would be unacceptable."

Guevara said the agents came to his home because they said he had a deportable offense -- a 2008 felony drug charge.

"I was hanging out with the wrong people," he said. "But I paid my fines, did my time, and never tried to justify it. I was held responsible for my actions."

Since then, he said he has found a job and been born again as a Christian. He said his favorite apostle, Paul, turned his life around, too.

"Just have faith and do the right thing, and you'll be alright," said Guevara.

Still, he said he lives in fear ICE will find something wrong with his papers and come knocking again.

"How many people have been deported, and then they could have been like, 'Oh, we made a mistake.' But who's going to bring them back? Who's going to help them out?" he said.