June 21, 2007 - 6:37PM
Zoila Meyer faces deportation, fights to stay in U.S.
Zoila Meyer with her children at her Apple Valley home. Meyer has been in the United States since she was one year old, and thought she was a citizen until 2004.
Zoila Meyer holds her son Peter at her Apple Valley home Wednesday. Meyer spent Tuesday arrested and is facing deportation stemming from her 2004 election case.
Zoila Meyer with her children at her Apple Valley home. Meyer has not been involved in any other criminal action except her voting and election in Adelanto, yet she may still be deported in thirty days.
APPLE VALLEY — Zoila Meyer has been in America since the age of 1. She has been living the American dream; marrying her high school sweetheart, raising their four children, working on a college education and winning a seat for city office. Her only problem — she isn’t an American — and now faces deportation for illegally voting in the 2004 election. “I truly thought I was a citizen, all my life. I’ve been voting since I was 18. I didn’t know I was here illegally,” she said. “It was a mistake on my parents behalf. They messed up. They didn’t want to. It just happened.” Tuesday’s arrest stems from the 2004 election. Meyer ran for — and won — a seat for Adelanto City Council where she served for 10 weeks before resigning after a family member raised questions regarding her legal status. While it is not illegal for an illegal immigrant to register to vote — it is if they actually do vote. Meyer has long contended that she was unaware of her illegal citizenship status. “This whole process is not my fault. They ask, `How can you not know you’re not a citizen?’ But if you’re parents don’t tell you this, you don’t know,” she said. “It’s like kids who don’t find out until they’re adults that they were adopted. We believe what we are told.” She and her husband, Kenneth, have four children: Peter, 5; Kennedy, 6; Waylon, 12; and Meaghan, 16. When not busy at home, she can be found at one of the local college campuses. She attends both Barstow and Victor Valley colleges and hopes to graduate this year having earned four associate of arts degrees in nursing, math and science, liberal arts and criminal justice. “That way I can do anything. I can teach, be a nurse or get into law enforcement,” she said. Apart from running for public office, she was also a level II reserve with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. Before becoming certified she had to go through a background check. “Who would do that if they thought they were here illegally?” she asked. On Tuesday, her husband drove her to the San Bernardino County office of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Service office where she was arrested for violation of immigration laws and now faces deportation. “This is my home. This is where my family is. This is where I have built my life. How can you pick me out of a crowd and tell me you’re taking it all from me,” she asked. If she is deported it won’t be to her homeland of Cuba. She would be sent to Canada, the last point of entry in her immigration record. Attorney Tristan Pelayes, who is not involved in the case, said he believes her situation would fall under a lot of exceptions under the deportation law. “She’s more of a citizen than a lot of us,” he said. “That’s an overzealous prosecutor that doesn’t have anything else to do.” He said there’s a difference between her case and that of someone who knowingly came into the country illegally and knowingly broke the law. “She isn’t a criminal. She was brought here when she was 1. She didn’t know. This person has been contributing to this country for years,” Pelayes said. “To deport someone like this is a great disservice to our country.” Meyer said she is proud of her Cuban heritage and also proud to have been raised in America. “But I am disappointed in the system that I am so proud of,” she said. On July 18, she must surrender herself to immigration. She is unclear what will happen at that point. “If anything good comes from this, I hope it’s that parents make sure their children are naturalized,” she said. Gretchen Losi may be reached at 951-6233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Nobody is in agreement…It’s that, no one says it and no one takes the risk to say it, to speak the truth. That’s what is happening. In other words, one of the foundations, of what are the regimes in the entire world, in all of history, has been fear and lies. In other words, once you are in fear that's when you don’t take a risk, where you collect yourself and don’t unite…understood? To be in fear is not to offer help to anyone because that signifies risk." -Gorki Águila Carrasco, lead singer, guitarist of the music group Porno Para Ricardo and political prisoner
"Socialist ideology, like so many others, has two main dangers. One stems from confused and incomplete readings of foreign texts, and the other from the arrogance and hidden rage of those who, in order to climb up in the world, pretend to be frantic defenders of the helpless so as to have shoulders on which to stand." --Jose Marti
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Saturday, August 11, 2007
June 21, 2007 - 6:37PM