HOANG MINH LY'S SITUATION IS ONE LOCAL EXAMPLE

The Plain Dealer
Cleveland, OH
Aug 30, 1999

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Pagination: 4B

Abstract:

Karen Meade, who heads the Ohio chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said she represented a grandmother from Cleveland's West Side who was picked up for deportation because INS officials learned she had a 20-year-old shoplifting conviction.

Former New York Jets football player Julius Basca had been a long- distance truck driver since he and his family moved to Cleveland more than a decade ago. Early this year, he finished a delivery to a southern Texas border town. Basca looked across the border at the colorful souvenir shops and asked the border guard if he could cross, pick up some gifts and return.

He was told he could as long as he had his green card and identification. But when Basca tried to re-enter the United States, a computer check showed he had pleaded guilty to an assault charge from a fight with an angry fan 20 years ago. He was deported to his native Hungary and is still there while his lawyer tries to get him back to Cleveland.

(Copyright (c) The Plain Dealer 1999)

Full Text:

Hoang Minh Ly's situation is one local example of difficulties between legal immigrants and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. There are others:

Karen Meade, who heads the Ohio chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said she represented a grandmother from Cleveland's West Side who was picked up for deportation because INS officials learned she had a 20-year-old shoplifting conviction.

The amount of the item stolen was small, but it was a second offense that carried a possible one-year sentence.

She was given probation and has not been arrested or convicted of any other crime since. There was one more mitigating factor for not deporting the woman.

"She was on kidney dialysis and was very ill," said Meade. "They still tried to deport her but were convinced to let her stay."

Former New York Jets football player Julius Basca had been a long- distance truck driver since he and his family moved to Cleveland more than a decade ago. Early this year, he finished a delivery to a southern Texas border town. Basca looked across the border at the colorful souvenir shops and asked the border guard if he could cross, pick up some gifts and return.

He was told he could as long as he had his green card and identification. But when Basca tried to re-enter the United States, a computer check showed he had pleaded guilty to an assault charge from a fight with an angry fan 20 years ago. He was deported to his native Hungary and is still there while his lawyer tries to get him back to Cleveland.

Even though Carlos Rodriguez, 26, was born in Spain, he always has thought of himself as an American. He has lived in the United States since he was 3 years old. In fact, in 1992, when all his friends registered to vote in the presidential election, the Lorain man did the same and actually voted - not realizing he was not permitted to do so.

In January 1998, he began the process to become an American citizen. An INS agent asked him if he had ever voted in an American election, and Rodriguez proudly answered that he had voted once.

The meeting ended abruptly. Rodriguez heard nothing further about his application for citizenship. One year later, he received a notice of deportation from the INS.

"They want to return him to Spain," said Richard Herman, Rodriguez's attorney. "He told the INS judge he knows no one in Spain. He does not even speak Spanish. He said he had never been in trouble with the law and just wants to be an American."

Marcis Liepins came to the United States from Germany in 1995 on a student visa to attend Kent State University. After graduating from Kent, he was accepted at Cleveland State University's Cleveland- Marshall College of Law. He also intended to go to night school at Kent for a master's degree in business.

The International Students Office at CSU failed to file the paperwork he filled out that would notify the INS of the change of schools. Liepins sent in an application to update his student visa in December. The INS contacted him in March and gave him notice of deportation.

"He got the notice the night before finals," said Herman. "All he wants to do is finish his last year of law school. He is free on bond pending a hearing next spring and cannot attend school until then."

The cases involving Basca, Rodriguez, Liepins and the grandmother on kidney dialysis are under appeal.

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