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Occupy Oakland’s Pancho Stierle Released Pending Deportation Hearing

 
 
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 On Thursday, federal immigration agents took custody of a 36-year-old Occupy Oakland activist who had been arrested earlier in the week for failing to disperse the encampment as ordered by the Oakland Police Department.

Francisco “Pancho” Ramos Stierle was one of 32 people who were arrested and booked during Monday’s early morning sweep of the encampment in Oakland. Because Stierle is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, he will now have to face an immigration judge and possibly be deported.

The irony of it all is that Stierle, who was kneeling and meditating before he was arrested, is probably among the most peaceful out of all of the Occupy Oakland protesters — an encampment that’s seen high-profile violence due the city’s aggressive police response.

Stierle was handed over to immigration agents because Oakland participates in a federal program called Secure Communities. The program allows immigration officials to check the fingerprints of everyone who’s booked into local or county jails against federal immigration records. The Obama administration has touted it as an initiative that’s successfully led to the deportations of violent criminals. But advocates argue that many of the people who end up being deported are those convicted of non-violent offenses, like Stierle.

The San Francisco Chronicle provides a few more details on Stierle’s case, including a statement from ICE.

Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Stierle was subsequently released “on his own recognizance pending a hearing before an immigration judge. It will be up to the immigration courts to determine whether he has a legal basis to remain in the United States.”

In a statement his attorney released while he was still in custody, Stierle complained that Oakland leaders were spending money clearing out Occupy encampments while closing five public schools.

“This is the same thing happening across the country,” Stierle said. “We do not have an economic crisis, we have a crisis of priorities. We believe we are the 99 percent facilitating the healing of the 100 percent.”

Friends said Stierle, who has no criminal record, came to the United States six years ago on a student visa to seek a master’s degree in astrophysics at UC Berkeley, but dropped out over concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation.

In a statement made by his attorney and obtained by the Chronicle, Stierle argued that Oakland leaders were spending money clearing out Occupy encampments while closing five public schools.

“This is the same thing happening across the country,” Stierle said. “We do not have an economic crisis, we have a crisis of priorities. We believe we are the 99 percent facilitating the healing of the 100 percent.”

Friends said Stierle, who has no criminal record, came to the United States six years ago on a student visa to seek a master’s degree in astrophysics at UC Berkeley, but dropped out over concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation.

ColorLines / By Jorge Rivas

Posted at November 21, 2011, 3:26am