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Journalist wins fight to remain in United States

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Journalist wins fight to remain in United States

  • A native-Nicaraguan journalist working for two New York-based publications was detained by the INS for more than 10 days in December 2002, despite his permanent U.S. residency status.

May 20, 2003 — Journalist Roger Calero, associate editor at monthly Spanish-language news publication Perspectiva Mundial and staff writer for socialist newsweekly The Militant, received his permanent green card and his Nicaraguan passport from the Department of Homeland Security May 15 after a six-month legal battle that started when he was stopped at customs when he tried to re-enter the United States.

The dispute began when the Immigration and Naturalization Service detained 34-year-old Calero for ten days after he returned to the United States through George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Dec. 3, 2002, following assignments in Cuba and Guadalajara, Mexico.

His detainment was based on a 1988 conviction for selling marijuana to an undercover police officer. The conviction was waived in 1990 by INS when Calero applied for, and was subsequently granted, permanent resident status in the United States.

Calero’s case went to DHS, to which many of the bureaus of the Immigration and Naturalization Service went when the new department opened Jan. 24.

The Roger Calero Defense Committee, created to organize support for Calero, first announced victory May 1 when DHS moved to terminate the deportation case against Calero. Newark Immigration Judge William Strasser ordered DHS to elaborate on its motion to terminate, which consisted of one sentence citing INS rules and contained no other explanation, according to Claudia Slovinsky, Calero’s attorney.

Twelve days later DHS clarified the motion, saying the INS was correct in waiving the marijuana conviction, and had properly granted Calero permanent residency in 1990, invalidating the removal proceeding.

Slovinsky said she is hopeful the latest termination motion will be granted, ending Calero’s legal battle.

“It’s significant that the government goes back and says [the green card] was properly issued and they can’t come now and kick him out of the country,” Slovinsky said.

The Roger Calero Defense Committee attributed the decision to terminate the proceedings to the large support base behind Calero. The committee organized petitions and letters after Calero was detained, and continued their efforts during the legal case.

Calero’s defense committee now plans raise funds to help with his legal and publicity fees.

According to a report in the Militant, Calero called this development an important victory for worker’s rights, and added that he hopes to go back to concentrating on the work he did for both publications prior to being detained.

(Media Counsel: Claudia Slovinsky, New York, N.Y.) KD

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© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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