Judge throws out case of four who were brought into
country illegally as toddlers
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
July 21. 2005
PHOENIX - A judge on Thursday threw out the deportation case
against four young people who were brought to the United States illegally
when they were toddlers.
U.S. Immigration Judge John Richardson granted a request to
exclude key evidence in the case, ruling that border agents questioned the
four based on their Hispanic appearance.
But an attorney for the four, Judy Flanagan, said the case
isn't over because she expects the government to appeal it.
Jaime Damian, 20, Yuliana Huicochea, 20, Oscar Corona, 20,
and Luis Nava, 21, were on a school trip in June 2002 to compete in a
solar-powered boat competition near Buffalo, N.Y., when they drew the
attention of immigration officials.
The students wanted to make a side trip to Niagara Falls in
Canada. Federal agents looked into their immigration status after a teacher
asked whether the students would be allowed to return to the United States
with only their student IDs.
All have finished high school, and three of them are either
enrolled or have completed college.
If ordered to leave, they would probably have needed to
depart within four months.
Three of the students testified that two border officials
made racially offensive comments in their presence.
A female border supervisor, whose name none of the students
remembered and who wasn't identified in court, had said the students may
blend in in Hispanic-heavy Arizona but stuck out in Buffalo, the three
Two of the students testified that a border agent, when
planning a meal, suggested that he might eat Mexican food, prompting a smirk
from another officer.
Nava said he interpreted the statement not as a genuine plan
for a meal, but a comment on the Mexican heritage of the students.
"It was offensive," Nava said. "I cannot believe he said
Martin Mahady, the only border officer to testify at
Thursday's hearing and then a border inspector, said he didn't hear anyone
making racially derogatory comments in the presence of the students.