Tracey Washington(left) sits next to her husband Charles Washington as he speaks to reporters.

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Update: The San Francisco Bay Guardian is reporting that ICE is giving the family 60 days to legalize their paperwork.

A 13-year-old undocumented boy from Australia and his mother face deportation after a chain of events that began when he punched and stole 46 cents from a classmate in an after school program.

This case is unlike previous cases of undocumented youths being reported to ICE by the Juvenile Probation Department as part of the current policy set by the mayor: The boy’s mother, who is married to an American citizen, is also being deported.

“I hope this is not the beginning of a trend,” said Angela Chan, a staff attorney with the Asian Law Caucus, who is representing the family and organized the press conference.

The practice of reporting youth to ICE has been the source of debate after the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance late last year that would report youth to ICE only if their felony count is upheld.

Since William Sifferman, the chief of the Juvenile Probation Department, has refused to implement the policy because he says it violates federal law, Supervisor David Campos will hold hearings Thursday on the stalemate at City Hall.

Police booked the boy the day after the incident in January and charged him with extortion, robbery and assault. Once in Juvenile Hall, the boy was reported to ICE by a probation officer.

When the judge released the boy to home detention while his case was being heard, instead of meeting with his family, ICE officials picked him up. Typically judges release youths to home detention if their case is not severe and they are not considered a flight risk.

ICE told the parents, who were filing to get a green card, that they would release the boy to their custody only if the mother, Tracey Washington, came in.

When Washington went to the ICE office, they issued her a deportation notice and put an ankle bracelet on her because she had overstayed the 90-day time period allowed in the visa-waiver program, according to Lori Haley, an ICE spokeswoman.

Washington came to the United States in February of last year.

Charles Washington, her husband, who works as Muni driver, said he felt that ICE took advantage of the situation to also deport his wife.

The Washingtons did not file for their permanent residence cards until December because they were saving the thousands of dollars it takes to file the papers.

A similar situation occurred last fall when a popular streetcar vendor, Murat Celebi-Ariner, was deported to France after having entered the country under the same visa-waiver program.

Haley did not elaborate on whether ICE is cracking down on visa-waiver violators, but another ICE official told Celebi-Ariner’s immigration lawyer last fall that they are.

Charles Washington said it is unlikely he will live with his wife and two stepsons, ages 5 and 11, because he has joint custody of his 11-year-old daughter from a previous marriage.

“I feel like they’ve taken my right to have a family,” Charles Washington said.

Related Stories:
Campos Demands Hearings on Sanctuary Policy
Drop in Juvenile Referrals to ICE

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Rigoberto Hernandez

Rigoberto Hernandez is a journalism student at San Francisco State University. He has interned at The Oregonian and The Orange County Register, but prefers to report on the Mission District. In his spare time he can be found riding his bike around the city, going to Giants games and admiring the Stable building.

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  1. Since there doesn’t appear to be any dispute that the juvenile illegal alien involved had assaulted another student, the sanctuary policy wouldn’t have helped him. Had he been an American in Australia who had overstayed his visa & assaulted an Australian citizen, I doubt that the Australian authorities would have treated him any more leniently.