Skip to comments.They sought citizenship, got walking papers
Posted on 08/21/2006 9:54:00 PM PDT by bkwells
They sought citizenship, got walking papers
Illegal immigrant couple sue consultant, and win
By Jose Luis Jiménez
August 21, 2006
VISTA – Although they were in the country illegally for many years, a Mexican couple who had planted roots in El Cajon sought to become citizens nearly six years ago.
NELVIN C. CEPEDA / Union-Tribune
Elias Ventura wouldn't get the same pay in Mexico that he gets here installing tinting on car windows. In the United States since 1989, he considers himself part of the mainstream.
Elias and Martha Ventura's three children were born here. The couple pay taxes. He has a steady job, she frequently volunteers at their children's schools. They consider themselves part of the mainstream.
In December 2000, they met Enrique Escobar, a Los Angeles man who operated a business that advised immigrants on how to obtain legal status. At a meeting at a Fallbrook home, where dozens of others waited to meet Escobar, the consultant promised to put the couple on the path to citizenship, Elias Ventura said.
The result was the opposite. They now face deportation.
Unbeknown to them, their case was presented in March 2001 by attorneys hired by Escobar as a request for political asylum.
An immigration judge rejected the petition in October 2004. The Venturas were given 60 days to leave the country. While the decision is being appealed, they are allowed to remain here.
Instead of staying in the shadows, the couple sued Escobar in Vista Superior Court for fraud, and last month won a $415,000 judgment.
The verdict came from a predominantly white jury in an area of the county that elected Brian Bilbray to Congress on a platform of cracking down on illegal immigration. The Venturas see the judgment as proof that everyone is equal under the law in this country.
Escobar “did something wrong to us, so we are going to defend ourselves,” said Ventura, 40, in an interview. “Afterward, some of the jurors told us that they hope the verdict will help in the immigration case.”
The Venturas said they also had filed a complaint with the District Attorney's Office. An office spokeswoman declined to say this month whether the case was being investigated.
Escobar's attorney, Timothy Noon of San Diego, maintains that his client did nothing wrong. But Noon is negotiating with the Venturas' attorney, Barbara Strickland, in an effort to reduce the judgment in return for Escobar's dropping his right to an appeal.
“Mr. Escobar provided nonlegal services to the Venturas in connection with their immigration matter,” said Noon, whose client testified during the two-week trial. “The evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support that charge of fraud.”
Asylum is one of several scams in which immigrants are promised citizenship for a price but instead run afoul of immigration law, said Jorge Vargas, a law professor at the University of San Diego.
“It's very tough right now to get a green card,” Vargas said. “The foreigner doesn't know anything. He just sees a green card.”
The verdict is bittersweet because if the Venturas are deported – and they have a 95 percent chance of being sent back, their attorney said – they worry about their children, ages 12, 10 and 7.
Even though they expect eventually to get a sizable judgment, the Venturas say they still would face challenges in Mexico. Elias Ventura wouldn't get the same pay he gets here installing window tinting on cars, he says. Their families in Mexico City and Sinaloa are barely able to support themselves and probably would ask them for help. Mexico is a foreign country to their children, who have never been there. Their uncertain future has led to many sleepless nights and strained the marriage – the result, they say, of trying to do the right thing.
Escobar “destroyed our lives,” said Elias Ventura, sitting in the living room of the converted condominium he purchased with the help of documentation the consultant obtained for him.
“I'm going to lose everything I've worked so hard for in this country,” he said. “My children are going to lose their future here. They don't know Mexico.”
Strickland, the Venturas' attorney, said Escobar's methods were common in fraud perpetrated against immigrants.
The Fallbrook home was used by Escobar as a satellite office, with the owners keeping an appointment calendar for him, according to trial testimony.
The Venturas trusted Escobar because they filled out official government documents and quickly received a temporary green card, which is standard in a political asylum application.
But the Venturas were not politically or religiously persecuted in Mexico, Strickland said, and they do not fear being killed if they return, which are the main grounds for granting asylum.
The immigration lawyer is appealing on the grounds that deporting the Venturas would cause a severe hardship to their young American children.
Strickland admits it's a long shot – only 4,000 such appeals are granted annually across the country – but it is the only chance the Venturas have.
When the couple first met with Escobar in 2000 to legalize their status, there was a good chance they would have been granted work permits, Strickland said.
The law then allowed employers to solicit green cards for employees in jobs for which there were not enough Americans to do the work, Strickland said. Congress has since changed the law.
“People who are undocumented are not without rights,” Strickland said. “Make sure you are dealing with an attorney.”
Elias Ventura said he sneaked into the United States in 1989 by running through the hills to the east of the San Ysidro border crossing. Martha Ventura entered the country several years later on a student visa that since has expired, she said.
They married in 1995. They have remained law-abiding and said they have tried to give something back to the country that has given them so much. The Venturas just want an opportunity to become permanent residents, they say, and continue working toward the American dream.
“I felt like I had a chain around my neck, holding me back,” said Elias Ventura, explaining what inspired him to seek citizenship. “We are just looking for a better life, a better future.”
Jose Jimenez: (760) 737-7568; Jose Jimenez
And here lies the bulk of the problem with illegal aliens. They all think that since they have been in this country for several years, that it's now OK for them to stay here and never mind the fact that they BROKE THE LAW when they entered the U.S. ILLEGALLY.
Send them back their own country.
Not to mention all the other laws that were broken:
"Elias Ventura, sitting in the living room of the converted condominium he purchased with the help of documentation the consultant obtained for him."
Could this "documentation" be illegally forge documents to fake citizenship? How did he pay taxes, as he claims, without a Social Security number, unless it was fraudulently obtained? One lie (felony) leads to another in this case.
If I read this right, they are now nearly a half million dollars richer, from the judgement they won. Surely that should help give them a start in their own country. I have no tears for these people.
Well other than losing a hard working family that wanted to do the right thing and be legal.
The author, Jose Jimenez, in an obvious sign of empathy, said they pay taxes. Yeah, right.
Firstly, I doubt his window tinting job pays enough to put them above poverty level so they pay ZERO income taxes. Moreover, they're probably like 99.9% of all ILLEGALS and have cost this state more through medical costs and other benefits. Who paid for the birth of their 3 children? Who pays for their schooling? Who pays for their free lunches?
This is one of the most biased stories I've seen the UT run and beleive me, that's saying a lot.
BUMP that! This soppy story is one huge agenda.
"Now comes the time where we dance..."
"While my limited monkey plays a very small violin."
Maybe this is the guy who used my husband's ss#. Actually it was like 4 different illegals using his ss#. I can't remember who informed us.....the IRS or SS.
<< never mind the fact that they BROKE THE LAW when they entered the U.S. ILLEGALLY. >>
And that was 'only' a 'misdemeanor.'
Descending from those criminal beginnings, every subsequent action to STAY in the United States involves the willing commission of a FELONY.
Let us not kid ourselves this Teddy 'The Swimmer' Kennedy-initiated criminal alien invasion, hostile colonization and (effective) takeover of the United States of America by whatever other name is anything other than what it is.
A Criminal Alien Invasion, us not kid ourselves this criminal alien invasion, hostile colonization and (effective) takeover.
<< Well other than "losing" a "hard working family" that wanted to do the right thing and be legal. >>
Try that assinine "defense" in the crown of the execrable Maggie "Hong-Kong" Thatcher's achievements: handed-into-medieval-slavery, Once-FRee-British Hong Kong; why don't you?
We've got a bunch of lazy-a$$ motherf*ckers who think the world owes them a life. And we have a guy who risks his life going across the boarder, gets a job, gets married, has three kids, and makes enough to buy a house and we ship them back over the border. Somebody gives them the opportunity to make them legal and they take it. What's not to respect about them.
You know, I bet you are jealous. They've done more than you and they started out with less.
American Workers are fat, lazy and stupid that's the real reason jobs are going to Asia. Now we can either get hard workers to live in this country or we can shift those jobs to China.
Guess what the Commies want you to do.
The Chinese are going to take over the aftermarket windowtinting of cars?
You better believe it.
Now the owner has to find somebody else, spend money to train that person, hope this guy isn't a flake. This is going to result in a higher cost for the consumer.
Our Immigration policy is nothing more than Affirmative Action.
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