Three East Valley students were deported to Mexico after they were caught drag racing by a Gilbert police officer who called federal immigration officials, a report released Thursday shows.
Jaime Cisneros, 16, of Chandler, who was driving a 1998 Mitsubishi Eclipse more than 20 miles above the posted speed limit, told an officer who pulled him over Saturday night at Guadalupe Road and Velero Street that he didn’t have a driver’s license, the report says.
“Why not?” the officer asked. “How old are you?”
“I just don’t,” the teen said. “I have a Mexican ID in my wallet, but I lost it.”
The officer then arrested the teen on suspicion of criminal speed and called federal officials.
Lauren Mack, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said agents interviewed Cisneros and two of his passengers, Johany Nafarrate, 17, and Omar Galvez-Alejandro, 16, and determined they were all in the country illegally.
The Mexican consulate interviewed the teens and notified their parents. The boys were then walked back into Mexico through Nogales, Mack said.
The teens were not taken to immigration court because they agreed to leave the United States.
“We’re not actively involved in enforcement efforts,” said Gilbert police spokesman Lt. Joe Ruet. “But when we encounter people here illegally, the officer always has the discretion to notify ICE.”
Ruet said that because Cisneros told officers he had a Mexican identification, it “opened the door” to inquire about the teen’s immigration status.
The boys attended East Valley high schools and lived with their families, said Jorge Solchaga, head of the protection unit at the Consul General of Mexico in Phoenix. One of the students had a ripped ID card from Chandler’s Hamilton High School.
The deportations concerned Tami Smull, head of the Gilbert Human Relations Commission, who said she would bring up the issue at the group’s April meeting.
“It would sadden me if this was a racial-profiling event by a patrolman,” she said.
Mack said a pilot policy was started in September requiring immigration agents to respond to every request from police to pick up suspected illegal immigrants. In the past, officials only responded to the most serious cases.
Since then, the agency has responded 441 times to calls from 39 law enforcement agencies in Arizona. Only two or three of those calls have involved unaccompanied juveniles, Mack said.
She said the parent of one of the teens was called but declined to come to the ICE station or to accompany the boy to Mexico.