PAINESVILLE, Ohio — David DeJesus Casillas is in the dangerous Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo today waiting for his wife, Beatriz Morelos Casillas, who was scheduled to be deported today. But he may be waiting for nothing.
Elizabeth Ford, attorney for Beatriz Casillas, also known as Beatriz del Carmen Morelos Barajas, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials refused to tell her whether the woman has been deported and where she was, or will be, sent.
“I know she was moved this morning, I just don’t know where she was sent,” Ford said. “ICE is no longer disclosing the information. They could send people anywhere. Her husband is in Nuevo Laredo waiting for her. How can ICE be so cruel as to not tell family members when and where they can meet their loved ones being deported?”
In response, an ICE spokesman sent an email that said the woman was arrested on July 24. When it was determined that she had previously been ordered deported, her removal was expedited.
The response, which appears to be a form letter, says “she will remain in agency custody pending removal from the U.S.”
When asked for clarification about where the woman is, spokesman Khaalid Walls wrote, “We don’t confirm removal prior to successful repatriation.”
“So the woman’s husband (who has legal immigrant status and is permitted to leave the U.S. and return) is waiting for her in Nuevo Laredo, because that’s where they send deportees every Tuesday, but we just don’t know where she is,” said Ford. “This is cruel.”
Nuevo Laredo is where another Painesville resident, Francisco Narciso, was deported last Tuesday and kidnapped. Narciso was held for five days in a room with other kidnapping victims in what U.S. State Department officials call one of the most dangerous areas of Mexico. He said he was beaten and starved. His girlfriend paid almost $4,000 ransom and he was released around 11 p.m. Sunday.
He told his girlfriend after his release, that there were many other kidnapping victims in the room with him, including men, women and children. One of the men is from Painesville, he said.
Casillas and Narciso were the subjects of a rally in downtown Painesville on Thursday where people protested against increased activity by U.S. immigration agents against undocumented immigrants living in the United States that have otherwise committed no crimes.
Narciso was in a car accident on June 15 where he suffered severe head injuries when his car was struck in the rear by another vehicle. Mentor police alerted ICE, who picked him after his hearing for driving without a license. Because Narciso had previously been deported in 2006, he was not subject to a review before an immigration judge and was deported last Tuesday.
He said he was accosted by two men with pistols shortly after ICE dropped him off at the border and was put in a truck and then transferred to a building.
Casillas is a Painesville mother of four who has lived in the United States for about 20 years. She was arrested July 23 for driving without a license after she failed to pull over far enough from a stopped police car. When ICE determined that, like Narciso, she had been stopped trying to enter the United States illegally at the border once before, she was marked for swift deportation without a hearing.
Her husband cried at the rally Thursday as he addressed the crowd with their children, ages 4 to 12, huddled around him.
Ford said she hopes the woman will soon show up in Nuevo Laredo and be reunited with her husband. She said she does not know the couple’s plans for the future.
“He just wants to see his wife, that’s not asking too much,” she said.
Deporting Mexicans has been a constant source of tension for Mexican officials worried that migrants become magnets for criminal groups who kidnap, extort and too often recruit them for criminal activities.
“We have expressed our concerns to U.S. authorities several times in the past,” said one Mexican official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Arturo Fontes, a former veteran FBI agent now working as a private investigator in the border region, said cartels prey on immigrants heading north into the United States and people people deported from America back to Mexico.
“It’s a common occurrence,” he said. “You have vulnerable people who are dropped off at the border, in a city that doesn’t belong to them and they have something precious, whether it’s a vehicle, jewelry, or relatives in the United States that these criminals can extort.”
With additional reporting from Alfredo Corchado of the Dallas Morning News.