Filipino green card holder detained for decade-old conviction
WITH the current administration’s efforts to tighten immigration enforcement in the United States, several reports are emerging that Filipinos have been part of recent sweeps conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
One such case is that of Cloyd Edralin, a Filipino green card holder and U.S. resident of 30 years, who was arrested by ICE earlier this month for a prior conviction he served over a decade ago.
As of this writing, the 47-year-old remains in detention and faces deportation.
His 12-year-old daughter sobbed as she spoke to ralliers while standing on the Supreme Court steps in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, June 26.
“My father loved his family. He appreciated the little things, even if it didn’t matter that much, “ said Michelle, the youngest child of Edralin.
She said that she didn’t get to see her dad much due to his complicated work schedule. Edralin had reportedly recently started his new job as a machinist.
“But the day I was gonna be able to see him when he got home from work, after I hadn’t seen him for two days, he got picked up by ICE and I couldn’t see him at all,” added the 12-year-old.
Edralin, a resident of Highland Park, New Jersey, was arrested on the morning of June 4 as he was leaving to work.
His wife Brandi Davidson-Edralin, a U.S. citizen, told local news that he was being held for a 2007 conviction in which he was found in possession of an airsoft gun at a traffic stop.
Airsoft guns are considered to be replica or toy weapons which under federal law are not classified as firearms, but are in some states including New Jersey and are thus illegal without proper firearms licensing.
Edralin had served his time and had even gotten his green card renewed more than five years after his conviction, a sign he and his family saw as meaning safety from deportation.
“Out of nowhere for this to come up and for him to be held in detention while it is sorted out is unconscionable,” his wife told local reporters.
ICE said in a statement, “Cloyd Tolentino Edralin, a citizen and national of the Philippines, is removable based on his felony conviction for possession of a handgun. He is currently in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.”
In a rally held outside the Reformed Church of Highland Park a few days after his arrest, Pastor Seth Kaper-Dale, who called for the rally, said the ICE was punishing “people for past mistakes that have already been paid in full.”
In front of the Supreme Court building Tuesday, Kaper-Dale again spoke in front of demonstrators.
“We’ve been torturing kids in the interior of the country as well as on the border through detention of dads,” said Kaper-Dale, who is also a vocal immigrant advocate.
Edralin’s arrest came during a five-day ICE sweep in New Jersey during which 90 others were arrested, according to the agency.
ICE said arrests were targeted at at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants, and other immigration violators. Of the total 91 arrests, 77 percent were convicted criminals, and 70 percent had prior felony convictions.
John Tsoukaris, field office director of Enforcement and Removal Operations in Newark commended the arrests, saying, “The remarkable results of our officers and law enforcement partners highlight ICE’s ongoing commitment to public safety.”
“This operation focuses on the arrest of individuals convicted of serious crimes and are a threat to public safety. Because of the targeted efforts of these professional officers, there are 91 fewer criminals in our communities,” added Tsoukaris.
Compared to the crimes committed that were shared by ICE, Edralin’s possession of an airsoft gun pales in comparison. Crimes mentioned included drug distribution and possession, money laundering, homicide, kidnapping, assault, and membership in the MS-13 gang.
On the Supreme Court steps, Michelle described her experience of having her dad in detention, an experience she described as horrible.
“The fact that I can only see him an hour when I am able to see him. It’s so horrible,” she said.
“He’s a green card holder. Why was he picked up for something he did 11 years ago and was convicted for?” said Michelle. “He did his time!”
ICE detainment of Filipinos
The arrest comes as the United States deals with toughening immigration policies and an increasing fear among both illegal and permanent U.S. residents across the nation.
While deportation of legal residents isn’t new, the Trump administration has made it clear that low-level offenders may no longer be off the hook.
On Jan. 25 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order declaring that non-citizens who have been convicted of any criminal offense may be a priority for removal.
According to ICE, a total of four Filipinos including Edralin were arrested in the New Jersey sweep. One Filipino mentioned by the agency was a 58-year-old who has convictions for DUI, child abuse, and domestic violence assault.
In Southern California, two Filipinos were apprehended early this month in a three-day ICE sweep that took in a total of 162 people, according to the agency.
Three other Filipinos were reportedly said to also have been apprehended by ICE between June 7 to 14.
Lolita Andrada Lledo, associate director at the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) in Los Angeles, told the Asian Journal that while many Latinos get taken in, ethnic communities such as Filipinos should be aware that ICE does look into other groups.
Recent Filipino apprehensions monitored by PWC included a caregiver who was arrested in Covina, and another from Panorama City who has been a U.S. resident for 17 years and whose wife said her husband was a victim of notary fraud in 1999. PWC is still monitoring the individual’s status.
Another arrest in May was of a Filipino who was arrested in Torrance.
Both the Covina and Torrance residents chose self-deportation, while the one from Panorama City has gotten a lawyer.
Lledo expects more sweeps to happen as ICE agents make efforts to reach quotas.
But Lledo said that the best way to understand the issue and where one stands is to stay informed. PWC holds information sessions and legal clinics for those that need guidance.
She added that if someone were to be apprehended, their best bet would be to not sign anything and answer questions only in the presence of a lawyer.
“If they don’t have a lawyer, they can contact us and we can probably look for a pro-bono lawyer if they are low income,” Lledo told the Asian Journal in an interview.
But if deportation were to happen, Lledo said Filipinos must keep positive and make preparations such as obtaining a special power of attorney to take care of family affairs.
In 2017, ICE deported 182 Philippine nationals, one down from the 183 deportations of Philippine nationals in 2016, according to agency statistics.