This morning, we received the following tweet:
— nestor guillen (@birdsnfrogs) January 23, 2015
As a follow-up to that tweet, we requested for more information about the case of Arturo Tejada Muñoz. Soon, we received an email from Austin-based immigration lawyer Virginia Marie Raymond. After we asked if we could share her email to the public, she agreed. This the email she wrote:
Mr. Arturo Tejeda Muñoz, a resident of Texas for more than twenty years and a father of a U.S. citizen son, was wrongfully deported/removed by ICE on Friday night, January 16, 2014. He had been ordered removed by a visiting immigration judge in Pearsall on December 16. Because we thought the deportation was wrong, we appealed the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) within the specified thirty (30) days. That appeal, by law, was supposed to guarantee Mr. Tejeda an automatic stay of deportation.
But ICE deported Mr. Tejeda anyway, after ICE officers refused to listen to him or let him make any calls.
Why was Mr. Tejeda in removal (aka deportation) proceedings in the first place? Because in 2014, he pled guilty to a burglary that he did not commit, that took place in Dallas eleven years earlier! And why did he plead guilty if he was innocent? Because his lawyer told him that whether Mr. Tejeda had pled guilty or not, the court would find him guilty, and that a deferred adjudication (a form of probation or community supervision) for five years, which he might be able to complete in half that time, was a good deal that he should take. The lawyer also told Mr. Tejeda that he would “be fine” with respect to his immigration status.
Mr. Tejeda had already paid his lawyer $5,000 and could not afford to fight what his lawyer told him was a losing battle. In other words, Mr. Tejeda gave up his constitutional rights and freedom based on terrible advice from his lawyer.
Now ICE is agreeing to bring Mr. Tejeda back —it acknowledges that the deportation was wrong— but wants to re-incarcerate Mr. Tejeda at the South Texas Detention Center in Waco. We want ICE to bring Mr. Tejeda home and release him to his family in Waco pending the appeal. His son, partner, and step-children need him.
Raymond provided time-stamped documentation to corroborate her email to us. The information from those documents are consistent with Raymond’s story.
We share Tejada’s case to shed light on how some immigration cases are still being handled, especially given last year’s news that President Obama would be deprioritizing certain deportation incidents.