Protesters target deportation of mom with U.S. citizen kids
Arizona Daily Star
Jan. 1, 2008

By Josh Brodesky

Tucson, Arizona | Published:

 Members of a border-rights group on Monday gathered in front of the Tucson Police Department headquarters Downtown to protest the deportation of a Mexican mother and her three young American children after a traffic stop in early December.

Miriam Aviles de Reyes, whose children range in age from several weeks to 4 years, is returning to Cuernavaca, Mexico, after a deportation order requiring her to leave the U.S. by midnight Monday.

"I guess I am going to have to go all the way over there; I don't know," Aviles de Reyes said through an interpreter.

There is no debate over whether Aviles de Reyes was in the United States illegally, but Isabel Garcia, co-chair of Tucson-based Coalición de Derechos Humanos, said the Police Department overstepped its bounds when it called U.S. Customs and Border Protection after making a traffic stop involving Aviles de Reyes' family.

"First of all, they violated their own policy of not enforcing immigration law," Garcia said.

On Dec. 9, Officer James Kneup stopped a truck driven by Aviles de Reyes' husband, Gustavo Reyes, in the 1400 block of West Miracle Mile because a check of the license plate showed the truck's insurance had been suspended.

The truck had Arizona plates, but Gustavo Reyes had a Sonoran driver's license. Moreover, both parents struggled to speak English.

Because of this combination, Lt. Vicki Reza said there was "reasonable suspicion" that both parents were not in the country legally.

"We may call the Border Patrol as a resource," Reza said, while also acknowledging that the officer could have called a bilingual city police officer.

To make the situation more complicated, Aviles de Reyes went into labor after the U.S. Border Patrol arrived at the scene. While Aviles de Reyes was taken to a hospital to give birth while under the watch of the Border Patrol, the rest of her family was taken to a detention center for processing. The child, a boy, was born on Dec. 11.

Gustavo Reyes has been deported to Mexico, but Aviles de Reyes was given 20 days before she would have to leave.

Aviles de Reyes, 23, said she has lived in the United States for seven years. It was unclear if she worked while in the U.S., but she said her husband worked in construction.

Standing in front of Tucson police headquarters with her three children, Aviles de Reyes said that police taunted her, and at one point she was pushed to her knees while police tried to get her to enter a Border Patrol van.

But Reza denied those allegations, saying an informal internal review had found no wrongdoing or physical contact. Call-time records also did not match the timeline Aviles de Reyes and Garcia presented.

Border Patrol officials also denied the allegations.

"There is no record of any allegations of mistreatment in this case," said Border Patrol agent Dove Haber, an agency spokeswoman.

Aviles de Reyes' three children are all U.S. citizens, but they will most likely be going to Mexico with their mother, said Mo Goldman, an immigration attorney who represented the woman.

Goldman tried unsuccessfully to extend the amount of time Aviles de Reyes had before leaving to 120 days — the maximum time allowed for what are known as voluntary departures.

"The sad thing is that our government would not have the humanity to allow her to remain for the entire 120 days, considering she just babied a child in the U.S. and would need some follow-up medical care," he said.

A estimated 3.1 million children who are U.S. citizens are living in the United States with unauthorized families, according to a recent report by the Pew Hispanic Center.

● Contact reporter Josh Brodesky at 807-7789 or