Immigrant facing deportation cuts off monitor, flees

"I'm not going back to Brazil" he said in note

A BRAZILIAN IMMIGRANT who was expected to turn himself in for deportation on Tuesday cut off his electronic monitoring device and escaped.

According to a filing by the Department of Justice, federal agents found Romilson Batista Ferreira’s ankle bracelet in a box outside of an undisclosed church in Massachusetts, along with a note reading, “I’m not going back to Brazil.”

Todd Pomerleau, an attorney who presents Ferreira, said he learned his client went missing from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, and doesn’t know where he is. Pomerleau also said Ferreira’s wife, who is a US citizen, doesn’t know where he is.

According to court documents and his attorney, Ferreira had previously testified that he was not a flight risk because he has four children.

Ferreira, 33, has been a Cape resident since he was a child. He is one of six detained immigrants who had their cases reassessed following a class action lawsuit filed against ICE by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. That case centered on multiple undocumented immigrants married to US citizens who were detained during routine interviews with ICE as they sought to get green cards. The ACLU later proved that ICE agents had purposely laid a trap for the immigrants.

ICE originally declined to release Ferreria, saying he was a flight risk. But Ferreira and two other detainees were released in October after Judge Mark Wolf ruled that ICE had violated the due process rights of the detainees. Under the conditions of their release, Ferreira and the other immigrants had to allow ICE to deport them, although they could continue to seek legal immigrant status from outside the country.

Ferreira had previously been convicted for assaulting a police officer, although his attorneys have argued the alleged assault occurred when he was suffering a psychotic breakdown at a supermarket. He spent 18 months in custody with ICE after that incident.

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Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

Jeffrey Rubin, an attorney at Rubin & Pomerleau, said the plan had been for Ferreira to go back to Brazil while an appeal of his conviction and his bid for a green card were being worked on. Rubin said the firm has had success winning such cases, even when clients were deported from the country.

“Certainly him not agreeing to depart isn’t helpful,” Rubin said.