The criminal act that got Jeysson in the scopes of Homeland Security was vandalism. As a younger man, Jeysson was a graffiti artist and had pled to a felony charge of vandalism. Immigration and enforcement claimed that vandalism is a ”crime of moral turpitude,” thus being a deportable offense, even though Jeysson was a legal resident.
Had his previous criminal defense lawyers informed him that a guilty plea could lead to deportation, he may not have been in detention for four years. But, after gaining community support to navigate through the complicated nexus of criminal and immigration law, Jeysson did not plead guilty to his more recent misdemeanor criminal charge. As a result, he was able to eventually win another green card and a new start in the United States in immigration court. Had he pled guilty to the seemingly innocuous misdemeanor charge, one that would have carried no extra jail time, it would have been equivalent to an immigration death sentence triggering permanent deportation and separation from his U.S. citizen wife, two children, mother, and siblings. Instead, Jeysson took his case to trial, and was found innocent. The win gave his immigration attorney, Angie Junck of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, a shot to keep him in this country.
Luz met weekly with De-Bug, and held regular meetings with Ms. Junck around legal strategies for Jeysson’s immigration case, mainly about how to ensure that the public defenders were advocating for Jeysson in a way that would help him in immigration court. By having each criminal defense legal strategy vetted by the immigration attorney, Jeysson received a defense that complemented his future efforts at immigration court.
When Jeysson was detained in Eloy, Arizona, De-Bug members created an affidavit and went down to Eloy to explain to the lawyers and courts at the bond hearing why Jeysson’s act of graffiti was about art, not criminality. Jeysson won his bond hearing, and returned to San Jose. And when Jeysson discovered that he had a serious medical condition and needed surgery on his heart – a medical procedure detention centers are not equipped to properly handle – Ms. Junck, Jeysson’s family, and De-Bug collected the medical documents evidencing the severity of the issue, and collected letters from doctors. When presented to Homeland Security, Jeysson was again released from detention.
OUTCOME: The collective teamwork – Jeysson, family, community, immigration
attorney, and public defenders – allowed Jeysson to ultimately beat both
criminal charges and the deportation order. He is now living at home and
raising his children with his wife Katya. In a video produced on Jeysson’s story, when asked how he persevered throughout such adversity and against such odds, he said, “I knew I could continue to fight because I knew I had people on the outside that were fighting for me.”