The Mexican immigrant arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Ithaca last week has been charged for allegedly possessing a fraudulent document and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

The Mexican immigrant arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Ithaca last week has been charged for allegedly possessing a fraudulent document and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

May 10, 2017

U.S. Charges Arrested Ithaca Immigrant for Allegedly Possessing Forged Document

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The United States on Wednesday charged the Mexican citizen arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Ithaca last week with allegedly violating federal law by possessing a forged registration card, which could mean up to 10 years in prison for the 32-year-old if he is convicted.

The government accused José Guzman-Lopez, whose name was previously reported as José L. Guzman, of “knowingly possessing an alien registration card knowing it to be forged, counterfeited, altered, or falsely made,” according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.

ICE’s arrest of Guzman-Lopez on May 2 in Ithaca, which has declared itself a sanctuary city, brought sharp condemnations last week from local residents and officials. Mayor Svante Myrick ’09, at a rally after the arrest, said the detention was “about exploiting those who are already afraid” and that “ICE is targeting sanctuary cities.”

Khaalid Walls, an ICE spokesman, said last week that Guzman-Lopez is a Mexican citizen and had been arrested for “illegal entry.” The 32-year-old, who friends said has lived in Ithaca for years, has been held at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia.

The criminal complaint filed Wednesday brought new details of the ICE operation to light, showing that officers with the Enforcement and Removal Operations division of ICE “conducted surveillance” of a residence on Cascadilla Street on the morning of the arrest, according to a sworn affidavit by Joseph Radley, a deportation officer.

When officers “observed Guzman exiting his residence and walking along Cascadilla Street, towards Fourth Street” around 11 a.m., they placed him under arrest for allegedly violating the Immigration and Nationality Act, Radley said.

Much of the affidavit confirms what a Cornell student who previously spoke to The Sun on the condition of anonymity said she witnessed on May 2, when Guzman-Lopez was arrested. The student, who is an Ithaca resident, said she saw ICE officers exit an unmarked vehicle before arresting Guzman-Lopez.

“Two guys stepped out and asked, ‘Is your name José?’ to which he replied ‘Yes,’ and ICE agents in vests nabbed him,” the student said hours after the arrest.

A banner on the Seneca Street parking garage on Tuesday, protesting the arrest of José Guzman-Lopez

Sofia Hu / The Cornell Daily Sun

A banner on the Seneca Street parking garage on Tuesday, protesting the arrest of José Guzman-Lopez

During the arrest, officers found “a counterfeit alien registration card” in Guzman-Lopez’s wallet, according to the complaint and a joint statement from Richard Hartunian, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York, and Thomas Brophy, the acting field office director for ICE in Buffalo.

The registration card bore an A-number — a unique number assigned by the Department of Homeland Security to people who immigrate to the U.S., allowing them to legally obtain employment —  that was valid, but that government records showed had not been assigned to Guzman-Lopez, Radley said in the affidavit.

If convicted of violating the federal law prohibiting forging documents, Guzman-Lopez faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Guzman-Lopez may also face deportation proceedings, which would likely take place after the criminal case concludes, a spokesman for the attorney’s office, Richard Southwick, told The Sun. Assistant U.S. Attorney Miroslav Lovric is prosecuting the criminal case, according to the statement.

Guzman-Lopez made his initial appearance in the federal criminal case before a U.S. magistrate judge in Syracuse, who ordered that he be detained in U.S. Marshal’s Service custody, authorities said. He was previously held at a detention facility in Batavia, and it was not immediately clear on Wednesday evening if he was still at that facility.

The attorney who represented Guzman-Lopez in 2013 when Ithaca Police accused him of stabbing a man in Ithaca told The Sun on Wednesday that he has still not been able to speak to his client directly.

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick '09 stands beside Carolina Osorio Gil, director of ¡Cultura! Ithaca, at the May 3 protest of ICE's arrest of Guzman-Lopez.

Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 stands beside Carolina Osorio Gil, director of ¡Cultura! Ithaca, at the May 3 protest of ICE’s arrest of Guzman-Lopez.

The Ithaca assault charge is still pending in Tompkins County Court, which Lance Salisbury, the supervising attorney for Tompkins County’s Assigned Counsel Office previously said could signal a lack of evidence, among other things.

A Tompkins County prosecutor offered Guzman-Lopez a plea deal last week, The Sun previously reported, but Jeffrey Walker, Guzman-Lopez’s attorney, has not been able to relay the terms of that deal to his client.

Walker said on Wednesday that people in touch with Guzman-Lopez had passed along the attorney’s number and that he was mailing the terms of the deal to the facility in Batavia.

“I can only hope that, perhaps, by bringing finality to the open charge here in Ithaca, Jose may be able to return [to] the community sooner as opposed to later,” Walker told The Sun in an email last week, before the federal criminal charge was filed.

The City of Ithaca’s Common Council and the Tompkins County Legislature passed sanctuary legislation restricting local officials and law enforcement agencies from cooperating with ICE in most cases and prohibiting them from asking about a person’s immigration status except in situations deemed necessary.

Wednesday’s charge by the government also comes one day after a false report of a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer at Cornell spread fear and concern across campus, showcasing faculty, student and staff concern for undocumented students after last week’s arrest.

  • Joe

    Myrick is a moron. Just because Guzman was arrested in Ithaca does not mean that ICE is targeting Ithaca. He should go shoot up and shut up.

  • MK

    ICE would be stupid not to target Sanctuary Cities… that’s where the illegals are.

  • Haha Mayor My-prick and hippie pothead/heroin addict protesters blown the fuck out. Literally fascists are coming for you lol

  • A concern citizen

    How funny that his criminal case has been pending for three years with no disposition. Is the District Attorney’s Office purposely did prosecute this case because he is an illlegal alien? If this case was against a United State Citizen, the US Citizen would have been convicted of the stabbing in Ithaca. But Ithaca sanctuary status only protects illegal aliens. Who is protecting United States Citizen.

    • Jake

      Yeah it sounds like that illegal got pretty comfortable here. Now he can go back home and tell his people what a great country America is… and 10 more will show up. If only ICE was a corporation that issued public shares; I’d get in on the ground floor and buy up their IPO

  • Jake

    I know of at least one faculty member that isn’t here legally. I thought in order to work (or teach?!) here, people had to have proper papers. I’ll be a junior next year. I also know that the university shelters illegals in its various ‘assistance’ programs. I’ve heard other ILR students talking about ‘how noble’ it is but I don’t feel that way.

    I was born here. My father and grandfather each tough for this country. We pay taxes. My GPA is higher than foreign students in many programs, like ‘Cornell National Scholars’, for example. Not all these students are here or have the proper paperwork to be here, weren’t born here, do not pay taxes, but they get more funding, referring to scholarships, than many people who are from this country. And our tax dollars go to pay for those programs.

    I am not the only one who feels this way. There are also issues like the illegals’ and legal aliens’ ability to to get benefits from places like social services to get food and free rent, on top of their scholarships. Many of these are students here.

    I am not the only person who feels this way, either. I think that people need to speak up and be counted. However, due to the climate on campus, this is not happening. No one wants to ‘rock the boat’ and risk receiving a marginal or failing grade from a professor who believes that these people have a right to be here.

    I suppose this is the ‘game’ I’ll have to play in order to graduate unscathed. But there are many people who are organizing, on the down-low, and who plan to report these people, both on-campus and in the community. Some of the illegals who live in this town have been here for decades. Other students in poli sci talk about how much activism from our school has affected Ithaca. What if we actually enacted activism in favor of the law? I think that this will be a much different place… and a better place for Americans. I don’t know about most people here but I think it would be awesome to have our President of the United States, Donald J Trump, speak at my graduation. Maybe someday…

    • Jake

      Correction 1st sentence, 2nd P *each fought for this country*
      (Hate autocorrect)

    • No Campus for White Men

      College campuses in general, and Cornell in particular, are hostile to straight white men. All of the student organization and clubs are for Asians, women, and LGBT. All of the networking and mentoring opportunities are geared toward non-whites, women, and gays.

      I see more men holding hands with other men on campus than holding hands with women! It’s insanity!

    • Dr. Necessitor

      Good for you. I’m not a fan of Trump but I know favoring illegal foreigners over Americans is treasonous.

  • acturg

    Cornell’s obsession with diversity is actually working with perhaps unintended negative consequence.
    The white male is constantly under attack from all disaffected groups and is viewed as the root of America’s troubles.
    Guess what Cornell … they are also the core base of your alumni and increasingly they are being driven away from your fund raising efforts.
    Enjoy the diversity as you sink further and further into mediocrity as funding continues to dry up.

  • chump change

    I will be reporting any illegals I see in Tompkins County to ICE. I will also offer an award of $100 to anyone who reports an illegal alien’s location to me which then results in an ICE arrest of that person. Contact me at: Spammers and haters will be reported.