DUI Deportation

Supporters: French Citizen Shouldn’t be Deported Over
Conviction

Oct. 02, 2005

Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A French citizen who has made a living in Kentucky
as a filmmaker is facing deportation after he was detained for a
six-year-old DUI conviction.

Marcel Cabrera was returning to the United States on July 7 from
Canada when he was stopped by federal agents who checked his criminal
record, found his conviction and took him into custody.

The crash occurred when Cabrera, a 48-year-old artist and filmmaker
who moved to Louisville in 1989, lost control of his Jeep on a curvy road
after having a few drinks. The crash severely injured his
then-girlfriend, a passenger in his car.

But Cabrera nursed her back to health and pleaded guilty to DUI,
wanton endangerment and assault.

He served out his probation, which included a 90-day jail term last
year for violating its terms.

“I paid my dues,” said Cabrera, 48. “I thought I was in the
clear.”

He has been held without bail since Aug. 17 at a maximum-security jail
in Illinois. The government is trying to deport him under a law that
allows immigrants who are not naturalized citizens to be removed for
violent offenses.

Cabrera, who is living in the U.S. on a green card, says he has served
his time for the crime, which he and supporters say was an accident and
not a violent offense.

“I had alcohol in my blood, but I didn’t try to kill my passenger – it
was an accident,” Cabrera said in a phone interview from jail with The
Courier-Journal last week.

He is scheduled to appear Oct. 25 before an immigration judge in
Chicago.

His friends and supporters say it would be unjust to deport Cabrera,
given the nature of his crime, the fact he’s served his sentence and his
filmmaking contributions.

Cabrera’s lawyer, Dan Owens, says deportation should be reserved for
more deliberate acts – “like hitting somebody over the head with a
baseball bat.”

Twenty supporters have written to the immigration court on his behalf,
including the woman injured in his DUI crash, Ann Harpole.

The president of the Louisville chapter of Mothers Against Drunk
Driving, Carolyn Scharf, has even said Cabrera shouldn’t be deported.
Scharf said that while she believes drunk driving is a violent crime, “I
personally feel the government is going too far in deporting somebody for
it.”

Cabrera owns a movie lighting business and has shot numerous
commercials and feature films, including “Assisted Living.”

The 1996 immigration law under which he could be deported allows
non-naturalized citizens to be removed years after their crimes, no
matter how long they have lived in this country, for violent crimes that
are considered aggravated felonies.

According to court records, Cabrera was driving about 50 miles per
hour when he crashed and critically injured Harpole, then 49. In a letter
urging probation, she later described it as an “isolated” incident and
said Cabrera was “the best possible nurse” and “a kind and gentle
person.”

After Cabrera pleaded guilty, a judge issued a seven-year sentence but
placed him on probation for five years instead of sending him to
prison.

See Article: www.kentucky.com

Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com

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