U.S. citizen snared by immigration sweep

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement mistakenly tried to arrest a U.S. citizen in Carbondale on July 13 during a week-long sweep targeting gangs, an advocacy group says.

“This incident shines a light on the faulty databases and systems that ICE uses to identify immigrants,” the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition said in a news release.

It said recent reviews of databases used by ICE showed an error rate of 5 to 10 percent, “unacceptable in most databases, but claimed as ‘normal’ by ICE.”

The coalition says the agency mistakenly raided the home of Marco Guevara during last week’s sweep, in which ICE says 30 gang members and associates were arrested in an operation centered in Garfield County.

The immigrant coalition says ICE agents showed up at Guevara’s home at 6 a.m. to tell them he was being arrested on “deportable offenses.” They ignored his request to be allowed to show them his U.S. passport, and when he yelled to his parents that he was being arrested, he was forced from the home, shoved to the ground and handcuffed, the coalition says.

He was released only after his parents persuaded agents to look at his passport.

The coalition says the raid should have ended immediately because ICE has no authority over U.S. citizens. Instead, ICE spent a half-hour checking the passport and naturalization papers of Guevara’s father, Anibal Guevara-Stone, and making phone calls.

“In a flagrant misstatement, they told Guevara-Stone that just because Marco has a passport doesn’t mean he’s a U.S. citizen. There has been no apology from ICE, and calls for comment went unreturned,” the coalition said.

In a brief interview Tuesday, ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said an ICE agent and Garfield County Sheriff’s Department deputies “acted professionally and appropriately” in the incident and that the agency might have a further statement today.

Rusnok said it was his understanding that one ICE agent and two deputies were involved in the incident, rather than more than a dozen ICE agents as stated by the coalition.

The coalition said Marco Guevara had been arrested in 2008 for possession of a controlled substance, but committed that crime as a U.S. citizen and already spent time in Garfield County Jail for it. His stepmother, Laurie Guevara-Stone, told the coalition he now avoids drugs and alcohol and has a steady job.

Marco Guevara is from Ecuador. His father became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2003, and Marco became a citizen and obtained his passport that same year.

Immediately following last week’s arrests, coalition Executive Director Julien Ross said his group stands “very united against criminal activity,” but urged Coloradans not to blame entire communities for what he said are the acts of a few individuals.


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