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Detained journalist awaits INS exclusion hearing

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    NMU         TEXAS         Newsgathering         Dec 13, 2002    

Detained journalist awaits INS exclusion hearing

  • A native Nicaraguan journalist working for two New York-based publications has been held by the INS for more than 10 days in Houston on a 1988 marijuana charge.

A journalist returning from assignments in Cuba and Mexico was detained Dec. 3 by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Houston on a 14-year-old marijuana charge.

Roger Calero, a native Nicaraguan and permanent U.S. resident, is being held at an INS detention facility in Houston and awaits an immigration hearing that ultimately could bar his reentry into the United States. He is an associate editor of the monthly Spanish-language news publication Perspectiva Mundial and staff writer for the labor-oriented newsweekly, The Militant. Both periodicals are published in New York.

Calero had his press credentials, digital camera and laptop seized when he was taken into custody at Houston Intercontinental Airport. In a story written for The Militant from inside the detention center, Colero wrote: “I was denied the right to contact a lawyer on the grounds that it was an administrative detention.”

Calero, 33, has lived in the United States since 1985 and is married to an American.

While in high school in Los Angeles in 1988, Calero was convicted of selling marijuana to an undercover police officer. He agreed to a plea bargain and received a suspended 60-day sentence with three year’s probation and a $50 fine. When he applied for permanent residency in the United States in 1989, the INS, aware of the conviction, granted him a waiver in 1990, allowing him to live and work in the United States. Since that time, he has left the United States multiple times without encountering problems upon reentry.

In a hearing set for Dec.17, an immigration judge will determine whether provisions in the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act can be applied to Calero retroactively regarding his 1988 conviction. Under the act and depending on the facts regarding the waiver, Calero could lose his residency status and be deported to Nicaragua.

His colleagues at Perspectiva Mundial and The Militant, as well as advocates at the Political Rights Defense Fund, are assisting Calero in his defense and have launched a public appeal for the INS to stop the removal process and release Calero. According to The Militant, Calero continues to work as a journalist from the Houston detention center.

(Media counsel: Martha Garza, Houston; Claudia Slovinsky, New York) RA


© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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