Man Who Was Ejected From The United States After Appearing In A Film Critical Of ICE Asks Court To Roll Back Removal

from the ICE,-however,-is-still-the-'worst-of-the-worst' dept

Under president Donald Trump, ICE went from barely tolerable to fascist stormtroopery, doing anything in its power to kick people out of the country. Trump claimed he was just trying to make the nation safer by ridding us of the “worst of the worst.” His vague directives lit a fire under the worst ICE employees, giving them free rein to forcibly eject as many people as possible, even if those people were not the “worst,” nor even trending towards that direction.

ICE struggled to find (figuratively [but also maybe literally?]) boatloads of hardened criminals to send packing, so it decided quantity was preferable to quality. To cite just one example of ICE’s enthusiasm for ejecting even the best and brightest (along with everyone else), the agency set up and ran a fake college solely for the purpose of booting people trying to do nothing more than continue their education and satisfy the requirements of their student visas.

A court case currently being reviewed by the Eleventh Circuit Appeals Court appears to show ICE engaging in retaliation against protected speech in order to remove (check reports) a man who has lived in this country illegally, but definitely gainfully, for nearly two decades. Joel Rose has this report for NPR:

Activist Claudio Rojas says he was deported to his homeland, Argentina, for appearing in a film that criticized U.S. immigration authorities.

Rojas is one of the stars of The Infiltrators. He was invited to introduce the movie at the Miami Film Festival in 2019. Instead, Rojas was detained at a routine check-in with Immigration and Customs and Enforcement.

A few weeks later, he was deported.

Here’s a description of the film — one based partially on fact — via the Sundance Institute. The film took home two Sundance Film Festival awards at the 2019 ceremony.

Without warning, Claudio Rojas is detained by ICE officials outside his Florida home. He is transferred to the Broward Transitional Center, a detention facility used as a holding space for imminent deportations. Terrified of never seeing him again, Claudio’s family contacts the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA), a group of activist Dreamers known for stopping deportations. Believing that no one is free as long as one is in detention, NIYA enlists Marco Saavedra to self-deport with the hopes of gaining access to the detention center and impeding Claudio’s expulsion. Once inside, Marco discovers a complex for-profit institution housing hundreds of multinational immigrants, all imprisoned without trial.

In real life — like in the film — Rojas was released and headed back to his family. He was one of the lucky ones. The for-profit detention facility (along with its ICE overseers) did everything it could to keep detainees away from their legal representation prior to their almost inevitable expulsion from the country.

Rojas’ appearance in this film appears to have provoked ICE into removing him from the United States, sending him far away from the family he raised here. Need a second opinion on the optics of this ICE maneuver? Here’s the opening of Matt Fagerholm’s review of the film for Roger Ebert’s site.

A month after Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera’s “The Infiltrators” garnered two prizes at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, one of its subjects, immigrant rights activist Claudio Rojas, was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during what was supposed to be a routine appointment. His subsequent deportation to Argentina, severing him from his family in the states, appears to have been a clear retaliation for Rojas’ attempts chronicled in this documentary to undermine Florida’s Broward Transitional Center, a for-profit institution that specializes in detaining immigrants without a trial or court-appointed lawyer.

Rojas challenged his removal, citing its retaliatory aspects. The district court refused to consider his request, considering everything about it moot because ICE had already sent him back to Argentina. Since he was here illegally, the court said ICE had the legal justification to kick him out, even though it had never pulled the trigger on this option until after he appeared in a film critical of ICE and its detention facilities.

What he’s heard from one of three-judge panel handling his case is promising.

[T]he Supreme Court’s ruling in the AADC case left the door open for a future deportation case that is so “outrageous,” as Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, that it would cross the line.

And appeals court Judge Robin Rosenbaum asked during the hearing whether the Rojas case fits that description.

“There’s possibly an outrageous First Amendment scenario where it could be a problem,” Rosenbaum said. “It seems to me the situation couldn’t be much more outrageous than what we have here.”

While challenging removals is less likely to end in a government loss than cases involving qualified immunity, there’s still hope that this decision — and ICE’s apparently retaliatory actions — will result in Rojas having his removal reversed.

But it’s a very slim chance. That decision does indeed say courts may be able to find an “outrageous” scenario that they can exercise jurisdiction over.

To resolve the present controversy, we need not rule out the possibility of a rare case in which the alleged basis of discrimination is so outrageous that the foregoing considerations can be overcome.

However, the rest of the concluding paragraph says this:

Whether or not there be such exceptions, the general rule certainly applies here. When an alien’s continuing presence in this country is in violation of the immigration laws, the Government does not offend the Constitution by deporting him for the additional reason that it believes him to be a member of an organization that supports terrorist activity.

It’s a long shot but it’s worth taking. If nothing else, further courtroom examination of ICE’s activities is likely to expose its selective enforcement of immigration laws — something it did plenty of under Trump, targeting the easiest-to-remove persons rather than the “worst of the worst” one of our worst presidents claimed immigration officers would prioritize.

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Comments on “Man Who Was Ejected From The United States After Appearing In A Film Critical Of ICE Asks Court To Roll Back Removal”

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Anonymous Coward says:

ICE struggled to find (figuratively [but also maybe literally?]) boatloads of hardened criminals to send packing, so it decided quantity was preferable to quality.

Tim, I would like to suggest an alternate interpretation: ICE’s definition of "the worst of the worst" radically differs from your own (or that of sane, non-monster people).

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This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

And this justifies the continued harassment of thousands of innocent people, total contempt for the Constitution all seasoned with lots of abuse of power for how many years? One per dead person? Oh and let’s not forget the USA was largely responsible for creating Al-Qaeda and there were intelligence warns that were ignored that could have prevented 9/11 and, guess what, DHS and ICE were not the ones responsible for the intelligence work.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That was enabled by different branches of the government playing hide the ball with the details they each held.

People then decided that it was better to surrender their rights to be "safe".

We are not safer, we are never ahead of the terrorists, we pour billions into programs of questionable merit & lacking results, we applaud headlines of FBI stopping terrorists that they created.

The pile of information they have collected does not make us safer, they demand more hay on the haystack when they can’t find needles now.

The terrorists won.
We are terrified in our own country & our own homes.
We see something we say something but just like 911 people use that system to report brown people for dating their child, parking in "THEIR" spot, and thousands of other petty things.

They hate us for our freedom!!!
So is that why we gave it up so easily?

They spent so much time looking for dark skinned men wearing black cowboy hats (like in the movies) about to do bad that they ignored those nice men wearing bedsheets shooting up churches after planning the attack in the open for months.

3000 people died… thats very sad.
600K died from covid and we can’t even get Rand Paul to shut the fuck up that he knows better than actual doctors.

Embracing xenophobia just keeps people distracted from the real bad actors… I mean how many TSA theft rings did they finally bust while pretending it was always an isolated incident and let us not forget the TSA crew helping move drugs & offering to move weapons through secure areas.

It was much easier to blame all Muslims for the acts of a few than to investigate what went wrong & fix it.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That day where the new agencies don’t actually have any extra power that would have prevented it? The lessons learned from the event were that cockpit doors being locked and passengers not assuming that a hijack meant that the terrorists intended to land would have prevented it, not that new agencies anally violating random passengers and forcing them to buy heavily marked up water at the terminal would have done so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Technically, sure.

But the formation of ICE was just a re-organization of the US Customs Service and the investigative/deportation functions of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (the other functions became the CBP and USCIS).

Similarly, the Department of Homeland security was a re-organization of ~20 existing agency’s previously associated with everyone from Justice to Energy to Agriculture to the GAS (and a few more).

The TSA is really the only function of Homeland Security which didn’t exist prior to 2002.

Sharur says:

Re: "didn't Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency

"didn’t have…an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency"…that’s true in fact, but misleading.

ICE wasn’t created "de novo", it was a re-organization of various agencies and departments (much like the Department of Homeland Security); While the current Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency was ; it’s predecessors been around in some form or another since the early 1900s…five minutes of Googling gets me to border patrols staffed by United States Department of Commerce and Labor in 1904.

Anonymous Coward says:

If the US wants to act this way on their own territory, fine. Build a wall around the entire country. Fill it with water. I don’t care.

Just don’t go complaining that billions of dollars of revenue that used to come in when US border merchants could still sell their wares to people visiting from just across the line are now gone.

Point Roberts has no inherent entitlement to access to Vancouver’s retail markets if it’s not in Vancouver… because it’s not in Canada. Same with every other community all along the line, right to Calais.

And if you want to go to the Northwest Angle to terrorise the local wildlife? Go to Baudette and start rowing across Lake of the Woods, because there’s no reason that you (or your COVID) should be allowed to short-cut overland across rural Manitoba.

Buffalo to Détroit? Take the long way home. Don’t come here, eh?

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cattress (profile) says:

Re: Immigrants

It’s not unreasonable to want fair treatment for all. But does any person’s visa overstay cause harm to you or anyone else?
Have you considered how all the many pieces to your successful immigration came together, that many of those challenges could be insurmountable without support of family and perhaps an employer, opportunities for valuable education and learning English that few others have, coming up with enough money for applications, renewals, to cover travel and settling costs, safely traveling your country to get necessary security and health exams. The amount of time you were able to wait, without having to pick up and flee, repeatedly, or facing a wait longer than your remaining lifetime.
You know how difficult it was to get where you are, and you should remember the uncertainty of any change in your life could have on your status, something as simple as your employer merging with another company, marriage or divorce, or just a clerical error completely out of your control. Try not to assume that your success is largely reflective of a fair system for good folks like yourself. You are the exception, not the norm.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Way to prove them right you goons

Because nothing will reduce the criticism of a horrible agency like punishing those that speak out against it.

At this point and with numerous other stories on TD alone covering ICE I’d say it’s well past time for the agency to be disbanded and the majority if not all of those working there barred from any government jobs as wholly unfit, as however much good they might do they seem to practically revel in cartoonish evil at the drop of a hat. Scrap the current agency and start from scratch if need be because the current one is rotten to the core.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: One single line covers it

I don’t deny what we did, and what all colonialism did, was wrong.

But that same thought as yours says I can walk into your house, plop down on the couch, fart a bit and and watch your tv. Since you don’t belong there either.


The natives have far more right to the land than we do. But we set our borders and are recognised every other state in the world.
As such we have legal jurisdiction. As resident or as conqueror. Or as brutal savage. However you want to look at it. Today, it is ours.

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