Feds pick up unauthorized immigrants arriving at state courts

Cesar Alex Carillo

Cesar “Alex” Carrillo, who has been detained by immigration authorities, marches with his wife, Lymarie Deida, and their 4-year-old daughter. Photo courtesy of Migrant Justice

BURLINGTON — Activists are calling for the release of a farmworker who is the second unauthorized immigrant in a month to be detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while headed to a Vermont court appearance.

A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said ICE officers arrested Cesar Alexis Carrillo-Sanchez, 23, after a “targeted vehicle stop” Wednesday and are holding him pending deportation proceedings.

He was on his way to a hearing stemming from his 2016 DUI arrest when he was detained outside the Chittenden County courthouse.

Records provided by the group Migrant Justice show that prosecutors were planning to dismiss the charge at the hearing, for what the advocates said was lack of evidence. The dismissal went forward without the defendant there, advocates said.

The arrest comes after another in late February, when a Rhode Island resident was detained as he arrived for his arraignment on state charges at the court in Windsor County, according to court staff.

Migrant Justice and the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union say the Burlington ICE arrest is the result of a January executive order from President Donald Trump that broadens enforcement priorities. The list of priorities now includes people who have been “charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved.”

James Duff Lyall

James Lyall is executive director of the ACLU of Vermont. Courtesy photo

“By targeting people charged but not convicted of any crime, Trump’s deportation policy takes the legal principle that people are innocent until proven guilty and stands it on its head,” said James Lyall, ACLU of Vermont executive director.

“ICE has long stayed away from courthouses and other sensitive locations, for good reason: If people are afraid to go to court, our system of justice is compromised. This arrest isn’t just an attack on the immigrant community — it’s also an attack on the legal system itself,” Lyall added.

ICE officials did not answer a question about whether the latest arrest arose from Trump’s new order.

Carrillo, as the Vermont court and Migrant Justice identified him, was with his wife, Lymarie Deida, at the time of his arrest, the group said. He and Deida, who is a U.S. citizen, have a 4-year-old daughter, and Deida is pregnant with their second child.

“When they arrested Alex, they took away a father, a husband, a human being,” Deida said in a Migrant Justice statement, using the name he goes by.

Carrillo-Sanchez, a Mexican citizen, claims to have entered the United States unlawfully in 2010, according to Shawn Neudauer, a public affairs officer for the Department of Homeland Security.

Since coming to this country, his allies said, Carrillo has spent most of his time working on Vermont dairy farms. He is active with Migrant Justice, the organization said.

Migrant Justice has helped advocate for better farm labor practices, the state’s fair and impartial policing law, and driver’s privilege cards, which don’t require proof of legal immigration status.

The group has had success gaining release, pending deportation, for its members or other farmworkers detained by ICE. Last year, a petition drive and pressure on Vermont’s congressional delegation helped win the release of activist Victor Diaz.

“We are calling for Alex’s immediate release and for ICE to stop his deportation,” said Will Lambek, with Migrant Justice. “This is an attack against the entire community of immigrant farmworkers in Vermont. Now is the time to stand in solidarity with Alex and his family against Trump’s agenda of mass deportation.”

This latest incident has similarities to the February detention of the Rhode Island man.

Angel Garcia, of Providence, was detained by immigration authorities when he arrived at Vermont Superior Court in Windsor County on the morning of Feb. 28. He was due to be arraigned on charges related to alleged driving under the influence, according to multiple sources.

Garcia had been arrested earlier in February after his vehicle slid into the median of Interstate 89 near Royalton.

According to Andy Stone, the court operations manager at the courthouse in downtown White River Junction, ICE agents met a person that morning as he came through the door shortly after 8 a.m. Stone did not witness the event but learned about it from colleagues at the court.

“They were waiting for him and took him into custody,” Stone said.

David Cahill

David Cahill, Windsor County state’s attorney. File photo by Elizabeth Hewitt/VTDigger

Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill confirmed that Garcia was taken into custody by ICE without consultation with the county prosecutor’s staff.

He said his office did not reach out to or receive contact from ICE about Garcia in advance. They were not initially aware of the reason Garcia missed his arraignment.

Maj. Rick Hopkins of the Vermont State Police said no one with the statewide law enforcement agency reached out to federal authorities about Garcia.

Garcia was fingerprinted when he was arrested, and information from that is uploaded to a federal database, according to Hopkins. It is possible for federal authorities to flag biometrics linked to that individual, he said.

Hopkins said the Vermont officer who arrested Garcia received a voicemail from ICE sometime after his shift that day ended. The officer returned the call when he returned to work.

Hopkins said such detentions are rare in his experience. He could “count on one hand the number of times we have any interaction with immigration things of this nature,” he said.

A spokesperson for ICE confirmed this month that Garcia was picked up for “immigration violations” and was in the agency’s custody at that time. ICE reported that Garcia’s country of origin is Honduras.

Attempts to reach Garcia have not been successful.

Lyall, of the Vermont ACLU, was not aware of the Windsor County ICE arrest but said he knows of other courthouse arrests across the country.

He said the group is wary of local law enforcement’s role in any immigration-related arrests of people facing criminal charges.

It is not clear if there has been an increase in ICE detentions in Vermont since the change in federal policy.

“Whether it’s escalating or not is hard to say at this point, but it’s something we’re monitoring very closely,” Lyall said.



Elizabeth Hewitt

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  • garygshattuck

    Rather than continue with this insane attempt by state officials to interfere with the enforcement of federal law, why are we not pushing to make the “illegals” legal? The work conducted by our nation’s border officials is certainly lawful (has been in the past, is now, and will be in the future), so why this continued effort to cast them as the villains when in actuality it is this warped sense of privilege and right being espoused that is so thoroughly wrong?

    Our political leaders created this mess in the first place and it is up to them to resolve it. Their codification of pointless, symbolic laws in an area where they have no authority, knowledge or experience (i.e., S. 79) and recent “guidance” provided by our attorney general are beginning to reveal just how distorted our system is becoming.

    Stop, pull back, realign and focus your efforts on something productive like helping the migrants to gain lawful status. This obstructive, interfering method of operation is helping nobody in the least.

    • Phil Greenleaf

      OK Gary – this is a decent suggestion. I agree with your assertion that all efforts should be on legalizing workers, but your premise assumes that “making illegals legal” is somehow a snap (the insane part of this whole thing is the class bias in our national policy). The reason you are seeing resistance to federal initiatives is perfectly demonstrated by the recent targeted detentions that are politically motivated from the federal level and do not serve our current real national needs. By the way I did read your S79 commentary at the time and weighed in. You should have replied to Pete Novick who refuted your contention that there is no reason state police forces would feel conscripted into service.

  • Marie Parker

    This fella is in this country illegally. He knew the rules when he illegally crossed the boarder. Play with fire, you will get burned as this fella did.

  • Felicia Scott

    Good job ICE. Thank you for protecting the American people and upholding the law. Please provide Mr. Sanchez with a speedy deportation and if his wife wants to follow him that would be wonderful. His children should be given the chance to grow up with their hard-working father in his own country. A country he should be fighting to make better.

    • Pam Ladds

      “Protecting” us from a farm worker? Someone milking cows? I can see how you might applaud applying an existing law but I truly fail to see how this is someone from whom we need protecting. And while ICE may come galloping in to pick up little people please remember that many of those hard working individuals were invited here, actually do pay taxes and have dmv issued driving licenses. The path to legalization is long and expensive – a barrier way beyond the means of many. Advocate for a “fair and balanced” system, one where the dice are not always loaded.

      • Phil Greenleaf

        Good points. It just gets more obvious by the day how effective fear mongering at the federal level can be. It might be the only example of how “trickle down” can actually work.

  • rosemariejackowski

    It is time to kick the Feds out of Vermont…. or else let the ICE agents milk the cows at 3AM.

  • Renée Carpenter

    “‘By targeting people charged but not convicted of any crime, Trump’s deportation policy takes the legal principle that people are innocent until proven guilty and stands it on its head,’ said James Lyall, ACLU of Vermont executive director.

    “’ICE has long stayed away from courthouses and other sensitive locations, for good reason: If people are afraid to go to court, our system of justice is compromised. This arrest isn’t just an attack on the immigrant community — it’s also an attack on the legal system itself,’ Lyall added.”

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