In December we reported on Ingrid Latorre, an undocumented immigrant who announced she’d be living in the Mountain Friends Quaker Meeting church near DU to avoid deportation. Today she announced she might have the start of a chance to get out of her sticky situation.
At a rally for her on the 16th Street Mall, Latorre told supporters over the phone that one of two crucial cases against her was allowed to be reopened.
In 2002 the mother of two purchased immigration papers that she later discovered were stolen.The ensuing prosecution left her with a felony and put her at top of the list for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport. Felons facing deportation often have only been convicted of crimes related to entering and working in the U.S. as opposed to violent or drug-related offenses.
Latorre says it was bad legal advice that led her to take the plea bargain that resulted in a felony conviction. It’s that point that’s allowed her and her attorney to reopen the case of the stolen documents. There’s a small chance Latorre will be re-sentenced with a misdemeanor charge for the crime. If she does, she can then use it to reopen her deportation case, which is separate.
If that small chance to a small chance works, she’ll be in better standing for immigration officials to grant her a stay from deportation. Even today Latorre’s fate is at the mercy of federal officials’ subjective discretion, meaning she could be allowed to stay in the U.S. at any time if they decided to let her. A lighter sentence could mean the officials’ calculus changes in her favor.
Latorre and her council are waiting for a date to appear, but just showing up could be treacherous for her.
“If she goes to the hearing they can detain her and deport her, because she already has final orders,” said Jennifer Piper, a coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee who helped place her in sanctuary.
But Latorre, says Piper, won’t be put out by fear. “Her plan is to go to the hearing no matter what.”