Justice gets messy
Take for instance the case of Orlando Bosquete.
*- Born in Cuba
*- Came to the USA as part of the Mariel boatlift in 1980.
*- Accused of Sexual Assault in 1983. Found guilty and sentenced to prison
*- Escapes prison in 1986
*- While a fugitive commits felonies including dealing in stolen property, burglary and possession of a firearm. These charges are grounds for deportation.
*- Re-arrested in 1996
*- Cleared of Sexual Assault charge in 2006 via DNA evidence.
*- Judge tosses conviction but re-arrested by immigration authorities on the same day. This occured in May 2006
*- Has deportation hearing tomorrow. If a Judge orders a deportation, he is held three months.
*- Then released for the US doesn't have diplomatic relations with Cuba making deportation back to the country impossible.
What a mess, right?
I originally read Mr. Bosquete's story in May, however I didn't blog about it. He's been the subject of a grave injustice, on the other hand Bosquete is no angel and has committed crimes we normally deport people for.
So what do we do?
Holding Bosquete any longer makes the least sense to me. He spent 13 years in prison for something he didn't do. Bosquete has paid to society for any crimes he committed when out as a fugitive.
Our immigration laws should be enforced. But how do we send him back to Cuba? Keep Bosquete in jail?
Immigration and justice isn't always black and white. The Bosquete case is a perfect example. Below is the most recent Miami Herald article about his case.
Open Post- Bright & Early, Stop the ACLU, Basil's Blog,
MARATHON - Uncle Orlando was always Danay's favorite. She would eagerly await his drop-in visits to her parents' home in Hialeah. Each time, she wished he could stay longer.
That was in 1991. Danay was 9, and her family had just arrived from Cuba. Her father, Manuel Bosquete, told her that Uncle Orlando had escaped from prison after they locked him up for something he didn't do. He was on the run, but he would stop by when he could.
Sometimes he'd come every day. Then he'd go away for a while and she'd talk to him only on the phone.
He'd make it home for her birthday. And for Christmas. He'd always bring her favorite perfume, White Diamonds, as a gift.
And then he'd go away again.
To Danay Rodriguez, now 23, it seems like she's been waiting her whole life for her uncle, Orlando Bosquete, to come home for good.
She's hoping that day will come tomorrow, when a federal judge holds a hearing on Bosquete's immigration status at the Krome Detention Center in west Miami-Dade, where he's being held.
Danay doesn't want to get her hopes up too high, though. She already thought once that Uncle Orlando would be coming home -- on May 23. That's when a Monroe County Circuit judge cleared Bosquete's name, setting aside his 1983 conviction for the sexual assault of a Stock Island woman and declaring him a free man. DNA testing of semen stains on the victim's clothing done this year had vindicated Bosquete. But an immigration hold derailed Bosquete's homecoming.
He served 13 years in prison for the crime and spent 10 more as a fugitive.
''I never thought he would be free, but still be locked up,'' Rodriguez said last week in an interview.
``It's damn wrong. And it upsets me.''
He'll live with her family in Marathon when he gets released. Her kids, whom he knows through phone calls, are excited for him to arrive.
Uncle Orlando has called her every day since he's been at Krome, she said, but he doesn't want any visits. She thinks he wants people to see him as a free man, not while he's locked up.
But he sounds great. He says the food is better than the prison grub he ate for years. He's spending his time reading and running. He's trying to get in shape for the 7-Mile Bridge Run in the Keys next year.
'He just asked us for a pair of sneakers; `Air Nike' was the exact request,'' said Rodriguez with a laugh. ``He told all his lawyers that they have to run in the race with him. And they all said they'd be there.''
Danay's eyes welled up, and she wiped her tears away. ``I'm tough but I'm sensitive. This is very emotional. . . . It brings back a lot of the emotions from the past years. To be honest, I don't usually talk about my uncle too much because it hurts too much.''
Nothing hurt more than watching immigration officials take him to Krome in handcuffs minutes after the judge had set him free.
Bosquete, who came to the United States during the 1980 Mariel boatlift, is being held for immigration issues centered on four felonies for which he was arrested in Miami-Dade while he was a fugitive using an alias. Police didn't catch that he was an escapee. He pleaded guilty to the charges, including dealing in stolen property, burglary and possession of a firearm. Under U.S. law, those convictions trigger deportation proceedings.
It's unlikely Bosquete would be sent back to Cuba. If the judge makes a deportation order Monday, he could spend an additional three months in detention and then be released. A deportation order could prevent him from becoming a U.S. citizen, and he'd have to report to immigration officers every six months.
''No one can believe this is happening to someone who was locked up all those years for something he didn't do,'' said Rodriguez. ``His lawyers have gotten really attached to him, and it has just been so hard for everyone.''
It's his indomitable and fun-loving spirit, his warm smile and the mischievous glint in his eye that get people hooked on her Uncle Orlando, Rodriguez said.
''He's always been so sweet,'' she said. ``He's always been fun. Even after all the things that have happened, he's still not angry. He never was angry, not even when he was running.''
He'd show up at the house in Hialeah when she was younger and just hang out with her. He spoiled her and doted on her. He'd always bring her something. When he baby-sat, he'd let her stay up late. He did all the things that win an uncle the title of ``favorite.''
''He was my uncle and he was my friend,'' she said.
For four years after she arrived from Cuba, she saw him regularly. Then he was arrested again and the system swallowed him up. She couldn't find him.
Months went by.
``It was horrible. It was driving me nuts. Where was he? Was he alive?''
So 13-year-old Danay started looking up names and phone numbers of Florida prisons. She'd call and say the same thing every time: ``I'm looking for my uncle. Can you help me?''
She has no idea how many prisons she called, but it took two years before she found him in a north Florida prison.
They never lost touch again. They kept up by phone and through cards over the years. He'd call every Christmas Day and tell her, ``Don't worry. Next year they'll prove I didn't do it and I'll be home for Christmas.''
''I have faith that he will be home this Christmas,'' Rodriguez said. ``He has to be home.''