California Military Base Construction Workers Detained By ICE


Publish Date:
May 15, 2017
  • Sanchez, Tatiana,
  • Tolan, Casey
The Mercury News
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Hugo Mejia grabbed the lunch his wife made for him early in the morning May 3 and took off for his job at a new construction project on the Travis Air Force base in Fairfield. But the 37-year-old father of three from San Rafael didn’t return home.

Mejia and a coworker, Rodrigo Nuñez from Hayward — both undocumented immigrants from Jalisco, Mexico who have been in the United States for more than a decade — were detained on the base after a military official discovered they did not have valid social security numbers during a routine identification screening and reported them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“When the federal government indicates a desire to really go after people who are not citizens, then other parts of the government feel emboldened to target those groups,” said Jayashri Srikantiah, a Stanford law school professor and founder of the school’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. “There’s a ripple effect. The government sets a tone for what is acceptable and what is not.”

But there’s very little legal recourse for people in their situation, according to Srikantiah.

“The process usually ends very, very poorly for the person detained,” she said, adding that the president’s executive order will likely mean an increased use of non-judicial deportation processes like the ones Mejia and Nuñez are going through.

“We imagine that everyone sees a judge before they’re deported,” she said. “But the way the deportation system works is that more removal orders are issued through non-judicial processes than through judicial processes.”

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