I read with great interest the story "The Sheriff Is ICE Cold to Immigrants" [City Dope, Dec. 13]. I had a friend who lived near us in Virginia who is Mexican. Great guy, hard worker and besides working for us, he also had an agricultural job where he paid taxes. Unfortunately, he overstayed his work permit, but continued to work for a legitimate business for years.
He got into a dispute with his employer and wanted to quit the job. But the owner refused to let him go, and our friend just refused to go back to work for him. His then-employer accused him of wrongdoing, he went before a judge and, for whatever reason, was placed in jail. Either the judge or the sheriff got involved and notified ICE.
Our friend spent about a month in jail, where we would visit him once a week. Then the deportation process started. Over the next couple of weeks, he was transferred to a couple of different jails in the U.S. and eventually wound up in Texas. From there he was driven to Mexico and dumped at the border, where he re-entered.
I personally made daily calls to the sheriff's office, ICE and his public defender (who was a useless idiot). I was able to keep up with his travels and transfers. I took notes for about two months, which eventually filled up a notebook. Worried about his future and safety, I wanted to keep in touch with him.
ICE was the most difficult to deal with. I had to play 20 Questions with them every time I placed a call just to get anywhere. Over time, I grew to learn that ICE played by their own set of rules and seemed to operate autonomously of any other organization. For example, one day I was on the phone with an ICE official trying to get basic info on our friend. I was getting nowhere with him, and I finally flat-out asked him, “What is the name of the person I am talking to right now?” And he hung up on me.
In fairness, I think an agency that deports criminals is a good thing. But my experience with the Mexicans I met over the years was nothing but positive. In general, they are hard workers, they follow the law and just want to have a better life.