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Tamale Lady Arrested At Wal-Mart Becomes Face of Immigration Legislation Campaign

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Juana Reyes came here illegally 20 years ago. She was arrested June 28th for selling Tamales in front of the Florin Road Walmart after she ignored repeated warnings to stop.  Even though the charges were dropped, she spent 13 days in jail on an immigration hold.   

If Governor Jerry Brown signs California Assembly Bill 1081, it would prevent an illegal immigrant from being detained on an immigration hold unless the person is an ex-felon. 

Jon Rodney with the California Immigrant Policy Center says if the bill were already law, Reyes detention would have been prevented, "The moment she otherwise would have been released with bail or the charges dropped, she would have been re-united with her family."

California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly is against the bill.  He says the law will send out a single message the state can't afford to send, "Nobody takes the law seriously in California.  You can do whatever you want. It's a free-for-all.  Come on in.  Along with the nice tamale sellers at the Wal-Mart, you're going to get the drug cartel members.  You're going to get all kinds of people with criminal backgrounds."

Through an interpreter, Reyes says she has never been arrested before.  She has already been served with a notice of "removal proceedings" from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

UPDATE: 12:20 p.m. July 18

 A statement released by I.C.E. says Reyes was not held for 13 days because of an immigration hold, but rather because she couldn't make bail,

"Ms. Reyes was identified as a deportable alien during a routine screening at the Sacramento County Jail in June by officers assigned to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Criminal Alien Program (CAP). She was turned over to ICE July 10 following her release from local custody. Ms. Reyes was released by ICE later that day pending a hearing before an immigration judge.  At this time, ICE attorneys are reviewing Ms. Reyes' case to determine how the agency should appropriately proceed."

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