U.S. citizen snared in Carbondale immigration sweep

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenJuly 21, 2010
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents mistakenly raided the home of a U.S. citizen in Carbondale last week and unnecessarily harassed him, an immigration advocacy group says.

Marco Guevara holds up his U.S. passport.

As the sun rose July 13, Marco Guevara answered the door to find law enforcement officers telling him he had “deportable offenses” and that he was being taken into custody. Guevara explained he is a U.S. citizen (he has been for nearly a decade) but was nonetheless thrown to the ground and handcuffed as he tried to yell to his parents — including stepmother, Laurie Guevara-Stone, a native born U.S. Citizen, according to the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, which released a statement this week.

Guevara was released when his parents produced his passport for the agents, who had been conducting a week-long sweep in the area, targeting immigrants they suspect are tied to illegal gang activity. The ICE agents were assisted by Carbondale police officers and Garfield County sheriff's deputies.

“Having the passport did not immediately end the raid, as it should have since ICE has no authority over US citizens,” according to the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition statement. “Once the agents saw the US passport, they spent another half hour checking out Anibal Guevara-Stone's passport and naturalization papers and making phone calls. In a flagrant misstatement, they told the Guevara-Stones that just because Marco has a passport doesn't mean he's a US citizen. There has been no apology from ICE and calls for comment went unreturned. This incident shines a light on the faulty databases and systems that ICE uses to identify immigrants. Recent reviews of the databases used by ICE showed an error rate between 5-10%, unacceptable in most databases, but claimed as 'normal' by ICE.”

ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok did answer Real Aspen's phone call. He said the episode is under review.

“The one thing I can tell you at this point is that our ICE agents and the sheriff's deputies acted appropriately and professionally,” he said. “The incident is currently under investigation.”

Guevara was arrested in 2008 on a drug charge — a crime he committed as a U.S. citizen and one that he was already punished for while spending time in the Garfield County Jail. The incident prompted Guevara to clean up his life, find God and become a respectable member of society, his stepmom said. She said Guevara now has a steady job and has been slowing paying off his previous court fees.

"My stepson, who has overcome so much suffering and adversity to become the polite, respectful, hardworking young man he is today; who has a steady job that he excels at; who is completely bilingual; who has a 3 year old son living in Denver that he loves dearly and sees whenever he can; who spends all his free time when he's not at church, at work, or with his son, reading the bible; and who by all legal definitions is a U.S. citizen, is still being harassed by ICE. This is completely unjust," Guevara-Stone said in a statement released by the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.

Guevara is originally from Ecuador and has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley since the age of 13.

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