Mexican consulate to pick up tab for part of $5,000 bond
Publication: Skagit Valley Herald; July 26, 2006
By ISOLDE RAFTERY, Staff Writer
TACOMA — Isabel Valencia Perez, the undocumented Mexican immigrant arrested by Border Patrol agents in June, is scheduled to leave the Tacoma immigrant detention center today.
The Mexican Consulate in Seattle will pay part of his bond, which was reduced from $50,000 to $5,000.
Perez has been held at the detention center since his arrest on June 12, unable to raise the $50,000 bond. At a bond hearing on Tuesday, a judge reduced that amount to $5,000, an action agreed to by government lawyers.
At the detention center, Perez looked unfazed. He responded to the judge, his lawyers and an interpreter through a television prompter that allows communication in several different spots.
Perez’s lawyers, Miguel Bocanegra and Manuel Rios of the Seattle law firm, Rios Cantor, argued that the original bond was too high. They alleged that the bond, which was set by the arresting agents, was their attempt to keep Perez in custody to get him out of the country as quickly as possible.
“The likelihood of him being a danger to the community, of being a flight risk, is low,” Bocanegra said. “Setting the bond at $50,000 is weird. I’ve seen people with extensive criminal histories with $20,000.”
Perez, whose wife says he arrived in the United States six years ago, has no criminal history. He and his family had been living in Mount Vernon the past few years.
Perez was arrested while sitting on a curb of Mount Vernon’s Kulshan Creek neighborhood, waiting at a school bus stop for his son to return from kindergarten.
Two Border Patrol agents, Daryl Schermerhorn and Steve Malpezzi, drove by. They later told Mount Vernon Police officers that they were on their way back to their Bellingham office after a routine stop at the Skagit County Jail, where they were checking the roster for illegal immigrants charged with local offenses.
The two agents told police they wanted to “familiarize” themselves with the neighborhood. When Schermerhorn and Malpezzi saw Perez, a Mexican national, they parked their car and approached him. A scuffle ensued, and one of the agents punched Perez in the face, according to police reports. Witnesses told police that the other kicked Perez in his chest while he was on the ground.
On Tuesday, the immigration court judge postponed Perez’s deportation hearing until Friday. His lawyers, working for free on the case, said they will argue that the agents racially profiled the Mount Vernon man. Mexican Consul Jorge Madrazo Cuéllar said the consul would pay $1,500 of the bond because of the rough nature of the arrest.
“We were very concerned and feel there were problems with police treatment,” Madrazo Cuéllar said. The Mexican Consul also said he wants to pursue charges against the two Border Patrol agents.
Isolde Raftery can be reached at 360-416-2148 or iraftery@ skagitvalleyherald.com.