Local News

Raleigh church members face immigration problems

Posted June 16, 2011
Updated June 17, 2011

— A Lumberton man said he and members of his church were detained for hours, belittled and coerced into signing documents by border patrol agents in Louisiana.

“We were intimidated. We are frightened,” Jeremias Villar said through an interpreter on Thursday.

Villar was among a group of 44 Latino members from the Iglesia Buen Pastor Church attending a religious event in Texas on the weekend of April 24.

The group, which included small children, was traveling in three church vans back to North Carolina, but they encountered a problem in Louisiana when they were stopped by border patrol and customs agents. 

“We were told it was because we looked suspicious,” Villar said. “I did not know being Latino means you are suspicious.”

Villar said the group was denied a lawyer and an interpreter.

“We were told if we did not sign papers, our families would be separated,” Villar said.

Villar said they were then brought to a detention center.

Jorge Calderon, also of Lumberton, was among the group that was detained for hours. He said some families had to sleep on the floor.

They were released the next day and allowed to return to North Carolina. 

Elizabeth Simpson, an attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, represents 22 of the church members now in immigration court. She said they were treated in a “very degrading and disrespectful way.”

Six of the church members have been deported.

Simpson refused to discuss the immigration status of her clients.

Simpson said the group was stopped 500 miles from the Mexican border in an act of racial profiling.

“They shouldn’t have been called in front of the immigration judge in the first place,” she said.

Jorge Calderon NC church members face deportation

Attorneys for the group want evidence gathered in the traffic stop suppressed.

The group has filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

WRAL News contacted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about the case, but those calls have not been returned.

The group will be back in court in Sept. 22.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • delilahk2000 Jun 21, 2011


  • kimvian Jun 20, 2011

    You people say go home but if all did go home what would you do without them? What would you eat? What would you drink? Where would you live? And God knows your yard would look like trash because you don't do yard work because you would mess up your freshly manicured nails
    June 17, 2011 10:50 a.m.
    Report abuse
    ha ha ha! I love this! I would EAT and DRINK EXACTLY what I ordered because my order would be UNDERSTOOD-THEREFORE-CORRECT. I would get a peaceful night of sleep where I LIVE because I wouldn't have to listen to that god awful polka sounding music, and my yard would be BEAUTIFUL because I can do yard work and still get my nails done because THE VIETNEMESE ARE NOT THE ONE'S BEING DEPORTED-YOU ARE!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • Rebelyell55 Jun 17, 2011

    Most Americans are willing to do the right thing. It's our nature. But they get up set about is the the issue as listed by When you cheat and steal what you are not intitle to that is when it becomes a problem. This is what the American people are up set about.

  • lauraleigh Jun 17, 2011

    lorena18blue - Please note than 139,000 Mexicans were LEGALLY admitted to the U.S. last year, probably annually for several years now. The nation with the next highest quota is Philippines with 50,000 immigrants. So while we FEED our children and are very grateful to be able to do so, please come in through the front door as befits people we wish to respect.

  • westernwake1 Jun 17, 2011

    As outlined in the recent budget debate, Illegal Immigration costs North Carolina $200M each year in direct ESL costs in our school systems, and $380M healthcare costs covered by tax payers each year. Illegal immigrants in N.C. do not pay anywhere near $580M in federal & state income taxes each year. Most are working off the books or using fake social security numbers while claiming allowances so no money is withheld.

  • Rebelyell55 Jun 17, 2011

    If what the ISC said they are going to do happens, the 6 deported would of gotten to stay and this guy would be deported. The real crime would be if this guy and the church is not investigated.

  • retrostar1000 Jun 17, 2011

    Welcome to the racist republican south. Sorry they all had to go through that. How dare they come to our country and worship God?

  • SARCASTICLES Jun 17, 2011

    FUN FACT!: Being a hysterical, irrational Nationalist fanatic is good when you try to win favor with, and the respect of, the population of the country that you just illegally invaded...it gives you a loftier perch to admonish the local cretins, with their silly patriotism and pride in THEIR country. What NERVE these Americans have...have you ever seen such CRUELTY? ;)

  • OleNCNative Jun 17, 2011

    The only thing I can say is: muy bien hecho ICE! We in North Carolina have a real problem with illegal immigration. It increases unemployment, and costs tax payers MILLIONS in health care, welfare, and schooling.

    Why won't the state government pass a law mandating that employers use E-Verify? It takes just a few minutes and is completely free.

    We don't have to deport them. Make it impossible for them to find work, and they'll deport themselves.

    Oh, and for the good people who call us racist for thinking anyone who says anything against illegal immigation - hombre, racista no soy. Ni nadie mas. Consigan papeles o vayanse!

  • teddyspaghetti Jun 17, 2011

    Sarcasticles - sometimes I hire people to help with work around my house - but in every instance, I ask about the immigration status of the people who would be doing the work. I openly say, if I asked for a copy of their I-9, you'd better be able to provide it or I don't want your business or them on my property. I will NOT condone/contribute to illegal activity.

    Who else has the to do so?