Note: Per information from court records and confirmation from an ICE official, The Ithaca Voice originally reported that the undocumented immigrant’s name was Jose Lopez Guzman. A news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office that has just been release, however, clarifies that the man’s name is Jose Guzman-Lopez. We apologize for the previous error.
ITHACA, N.Y. — An Ithaca-based undocumented immigrant has been charged after allegedly being found with a fraudulent Alien Registration Card, officials said in a news release.
Jose Guzman-Lopez, 32, was taken into custody around 11:30 a.m. May 2 by multiple U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials while he was walking on the sidewalk on Cascadilla Street.
Khaalid Walls, regional director of communications for the northeast region of ICE, initially said Guzman-Lopez was specifically sought out due to “a routine targeted enforcement action” and that his arrest was not random.
“That just means he is here unlawfully,” Walls said. “It’s not uncommon. Officers are out there every day.”
Guzman-Lopez in now charged with possession of a forged and counterfeit alien registration card, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release.
According to the news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, “The defendant may also face deportation or other immigration law consequences if he is found guilty. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.”
Guzman-Lopez, has appeared in front of a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Syracuse and is being detained by the U.S. Marshal Service pending further court proceedings.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Miroslav Lovric.
Hundreds of people turned out at a rally last week in support of Guzman-Lopez in the Ithaca Commons.
“We can only conclude that ICE is targeting sanctuary cities,” Mayor Svante Myrick said at the rally. “This is an attempt to bully us. There’s no question they want us to stop being a sanctuary city.”
Several people have since offered to pay Guzman-Lopez’s bail and a fundraiser for him was at $7,500 as of Thursday morning.
Previously, former President Barack Obama issued initiatives to ensure that Homeland Security — which ICE falls under — prioritized the arrest and deportation of gang members, felons and those who posed security threats to the country.
Under President Donald Trump’s administration, however, officials are being permitted to detain and deport more people.
The New York Times recently reported, “Under the new directives, the government “no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.” Immigration agents can now focus on picking up and removing anyone charged with or convicted of any criminal offense, even minor ones, as well as anyone already ordered deported, regardless of whether they have a criminal record.”
In Guzman-Lopez’s case, it’s unclear whether a criminal charge dating back to 2013 played a role in his arrest Tuesday.
According to court records, Guzman-Lopez was charged with second-degree assault after an incident that allegedly occurred Oct. 31, 2013.
The records state that an argument ensued at an Ithaca home and a man was stabbed. Guzman-Lopez was implicated in the stabbing, but witnesses did not indicate that they saw him commit the crime. Guzman-Lopez was released on $7,500 bail and the case was held for grand jury on Nov. 6, 2013.
No further action was ever taken in the case, and Guzman-Lopez was never indicted or further prosecuted for the crime. On Jan. 26, 2017, bail money was returned and his status was changed to being released on his own recognizance.
District Attorney Matt Van Houten said there are no plans to re-investigate the four-year-old incident, which is technically still considered an open case.
The attorney for Guzman-Lopez in the 2013 case, Jeffrey Walker said he was aware of his client’s detainment and has been unable to get in touch with him, despite multiple attempts.
“I will not yet speculate on the reasons for this,” he said.
Van Houten and Acting Ithaca Police Chief Pete Tyler have said they were not involved in the ICE investigation and did not contact ICE.
Per a Sanctuary City ordinance unanimously passed earlier this year, police officers and city officials are not permitted to ask a person about their immigration status unless they are committing a crime related to their immigration status.
The legal ordinance means that local law enforcement will not enforce federal immigration laws.
The ordinance was passed, officials said, based not only on ethical and moral grounds but because data shows that Sanctuary Cities — in comparison to non-Sanctuary Cities — have less crime, higher median rates of income, lower rates of unemployment and lower rates of poverty.
Tompkins County followed suit a few weeks later and became a Sanctuary County.
The Ithaca Voice is working to obtain more information about Guzman-Lopez’s case. If you or someone you know wants to report an incident involving ICE in Tompkins County, contact Jolene Almendarez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Department of Homeland Security), via Wikimedia Commons.