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Idaho Falls business owner deported; local attorney says deportations could increase

A Mexican national living in Idaho Falls illegally has been deported after showing up at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Idaho Falls.

According to the girlfriend of Tomas Copado, Tabitha Martinez, Copado went to the Idaho Falls Immigration office on E. 17th Street Tuesday to file paperwork when he was detained and is set to be deported back to Mexico.

“The last 24 hours have been one of the roughest moments of my life,” Martinez said choking back tears. “The kids took it really hard. We have just been crying. I have been so stressed that I have been puking.”

Copado is the owner of Vasquez Auto on Elva Avenue in Idaho Falls. Martinez told KIFI/KIDK that Copado went to the ICE office to change his address, something Martinez said Copado has done every year for the past several years.

“I never thought it would happen to me,” said Martinez. “Everything was fine, and then Trump becomes president and changes all the immigration laws. I never heard of anything happening in Idaho Falls yet.”

Copado did not have legal authorization to work in the United States and had been deported twice before. Idaho Falls defense attorney Randy Neal said policy changes under President Donald Trump are not to blame for Copado’s deportation.

“Just because Trump was inaugurated in January,” said Neal. “I don’t think that this case would have been handled differently had the facts developed the way they did in this particular case a year ago.”

Neal said Copado’s wife, who is also an illegal immigrant, was set to be deported as well but her case was hung up in the legal system. Neal said because the two have minor children, neither were set to be deported until the case was through the legal system. Copado’s wife’s case was deferred, resulting in Copado being deported, according to Neal. Copado and his wife are currently in the process of getting a divorce. Copado is now dating Martinez. They have been together for six months and are planning to get married.

Neal said under new standards set forth by the Trump administration, cases like the Copados’ will increase over time.

“There are going to be more people affected,” said Neal. “Two or three times as many affected than we have right now. However, those numbers overall, statistically, are going to be fairly small.”

Neal said 98 percent of illegal immigrants in the United States will not be affected by policy changes under the Trump administration. Neal believes those who will be impacted the most are those who find themselves in trouble with the law.

“The majority of immigrates are going to find very little change in east Idaho unless they are bringing attention to themselves,” said Neal.

According to Neal, there are three ICE officers responsible for counties in east Idaho. He said enforcement will be hard.

This week, the Trump administration unveiled new immigration policies to ramp up border security and expand authorities to deport undocumented immigrants. The new rules, formally released by the Department of Homeland Security, raise several questions about how immigration policy might change.

“There are no official guidelines or policy changes that are already in effect,” said Neal. “They are certainly being discussed. I think many ICE officers are seeing the potential for enforcing the law more than they were doing under Obama.”

According to ABC News, the goal of the new Trump guidelines “is to make it easier to deport more immigrants,” the news agency wrote. “Under the new policy, law enforcement may pursue a wide category of undocumented immigrants, including anyone ‘with a chargeable criminal offense.'”

“I think you’re going to see potentially two or three times more deportations as we had under the Obama administration,” said Neal. “If we get back to the rules we saw under the Bush administration or the first part of the Obama administration, we are definitely going to see an increase.”

Agents at the Idaho Falls Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office would not discuss the Copado case but referred us to a spokeswoman out of Seattle.

In a written statement she said, “Our deportation officers conduct targeted enforcement operations every day in locations around the country as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to protect the nation, uphold public safety and protect the integrity of our immigration laws and border controls. These operations involve existing, established Fugitive Operations Teams. ICE does not conduct sweeps, checkpoints or raids that target aliens indiscriminately.”

Attorney Neal said the likelihood of Copado being allowed back into the United States is slim to none.

“He will likely be barred,” said Neal. “He has been deported twice.”

The family of Copado said he was taken to a jail in Burley and is expected to arrive back in Mexico Wednesday or Thursday.

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