You’ve heard about borrowers getting kicked out of their homes, and you’ve heard about undocumented immigrants getting deported. Rarely do you hear the story that combines the two. Here is one of those stories.
The foreclosure defense group of Occupy Los Angeles brings us the story of Blanca Cardenas. Cardenas is undocumented with two US-born children and a US citizen husband, and has been in the country for over 15 years. She took out a mortgage eight years ago on a home in North Hollywood. For the past year, Cardenas has been fighting a foreclosure by Bank of America that she and other activists deemed illegal, due to fraudulent paperwork, as well as an imminent federal bankruptcy, which is supposed to forestall eviction. But the foreclosure went to auction, and an investor named Mehrdad Farahmand, representing a company called A to Z Development, purchased the property. Cardenas faced eviction.
Two weeks ago, Cardenas and some Occupy movement members protested the eviction with a direct action on her front lawn. Farahmand allegedly initiated a citizens arrest, prompting the LAPD to take Cardenas into custody (Occupy LA alleges that LAPD didn’t even have jurisdiction over an eviction of this type; the LA County Sheriff’s Department does). Then, they traced back Cardenas’ immigration status, and turned her over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Despite there being a standing order not to deport any undocumented immigrant who doesn’t have a criminal record, a week later, ICE deported Cardenas to Mexico, separating her from her two children, one of whom is 17 months old. Cardenas’ husband, Gerardo Quinones, said in a statement, “It’s been devastating since they took her. She was deported with nothing but the clothes on her, she didn’t have money or anything else. She had every right to fight for her home and believed the authorities would protect her.”
This is not the only instance of ICE going well beyond their stated priorities in deportations. CNN reported on a possible deportation of an undocumented student, Daniela Pelaez.
When Republicans in Congress filibustered the most recent attempt to pass the DREAM Act in the summer of 2010, President Obama responded by instructing his administration’s Department of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to adjust its criteria for pursuing the deportation of undocumented students in an attempt to curb what had become a string of very public attempts to expel students from the country. To their credit, ICE said they will delay deporting Pelaez at least as long as her appeal is pending.
But in this case, Cardenas has been deported, within a week, with no deliberative review, despite her lack of a criminal record.
Occupy activists plan to fight both the deportation and the foreclosure. They will hold a candlelight vigil tonight in North Hollywood, protesting the series of actions. They have petitioned the LA City Council to intervene, and have visited with Congressional and Senate staff, as well as the office of City Councilman Tony Cardenas (no relation), who is running for a Congressional seat in the area. Next Monday, Occupy LA and other activist groups will rally in front of county recording offices, demanding the same kinds of foreclosure audits that Phil Ting, the Assessor of San Francisco, initiated. Ting found a high degree of illegal foreclosure documents in his records. And this weekend, Latino groups and community leaders, in association with Occupy LA, will march downtown, in front of the federal detention center where Cardenas was held before deportation, demanding that she be returned to her family.
So far, however, this is merely a tragic tale at the intersection of the foreclosure crisis and the deportation crisis.