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Friday, October 30, 2009

Street-Food Vendor's Likely Deportation Might Mark the Start of an ICE Crackdown on Visa Waiver Overstays

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2009 at 11:02 AM

Sign of support at last night's street-food party at 111 Minna Gallery. - MEREDITH BRODY
  • Meredith Brody
  • Sign of support at last night's street-food party at 111 Minna Gallery.
The immigration attorney for Murat Celebi-Ariner told SFoodie the street-food vendor's detention and likely deportation might mark the beginning locally of a new initiative by the Immigration Customs and Enforcement agency (ICE) to crack down on visa waiver overstays.

Randall Caudle said it's highly unusual for ICE agents to seek out visitors with expired visa waivers. "I've never seen anything like this before," Caudle said. "Especially in a case like, this, with someone who doesn't have any criminal issues. Usually they target people who have criminal issues, gang ties, or just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Caudle suggested the ICE action might be the result of changes in Washington. "The Obama administration has told them not to do worksite raids -- it's an easy target to do visa waiver overstays. All they have to do is search the database and cross-reference it with customs data."

The attorney also seemed to suggest that Celebi-Ariner's chances of avoiding deportation are slim. Yesterday, he filed a Deferral of Action request, claiming that, since the Amuse Bouche street-food vendor -- a French national -- married a U.S. citizen in August, two months after his visa waiver expired, he should be allowed to stay and file for Adjustment of Status. "I think it would have been a 100 percent certainty, had we not filed -- they could have put him on a plane yesterday." Still, Caudle said, the fact that ICE has delayed deporting Celebi-Ariner, claiming that the officer in charge is out of town, seemed unusual, and held out hope that the Deferral of Action request would prove successful.

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