Off Beat

Look at immigrants on individual basis

By: Penne Usher, Journal Staff Writer
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I cannot imagine what 20-year-old Francisco Evangelista must be thinking as he awaits deportation to a country he didn’t grow up in. Evangelista was recently placed on three years probation for admitting to bringing a BB gun to the Placer High School campus Aug. 27, resulting in a school lockdown. A federal immigration hold was placed on him from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Immigration services will be notified and they’ll take custody of Evangelista, according to Lori Haley, spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Placer High graduate will expeditiously be “processed for removal.” Francisco Evangelista was brought to the U.S. by his family from Mexico, Since his arrest Evangelista has been sitting in the Placer County Jail. He admitted to bringing the gun to the campus. However, no weapon was ever located. In lieu of jail time, he received probation and a one-way trip to Mexico. He moved to the U.S. after his mother died and lived with his grandparents in their Auburn home. Evangelista went through the Auburn school system, according to his attorney, Tim Woodall. He is reportedly a promising artist and has had no prior run-ins with the law. Now this may get me in hot water with some of the Journal readers, but I think that dropping him in a country where he has no known relatives is wrong. “There are millions of kids here without proper documentation,” Woodall said. “The kids do not break the law, get a good education and are about to become productive members of society and we send them back to Mexico.” If Journal online comments are any indication of the public climate surrounding the issue of undocumented immigrants in the Auburn area, then not everyone agrees with me. Auburnite, whose true identity is not known, recently posted an online comment to banish all illegals – period. “Deport them all, make no exception,” Auburnite wrote. “Why are laws always for the other people? The other illegals? He is here illegally period and used our tax dollars and education system at our expense. Mexico needs to be billed for his fees and expenses.” Frank Hawkins, who posted a comment April 11, wrote that he doesn’t believe Evangelista should be sent to Mexico. “I think deportation is a little harsh for someone who came here illegally as a small child, as if he had control over a decision his parents or grandparents made to cross the border when he was only a toddler,” Hawkins wrote. “So a kid makes a mistake and the courts give him the equivalent of a life sentence.” There were initial allegations that Evangelista was a member of the Surenos street gang, evidenced by his MySpace page, the color of his clothing and drawings in his portfolio. Bill Roderick, former Placer High School principal, told about 100 community members during a meeting following the August lockdown that without question, Evangelista was affiliated with the Surenos street gang. “This is in-your-face reality,” Roderick said during the Sept. 5 meeting. “He’s a gang member.” But the court found insufficient evidence to back up the allegations and dismissed all charges, with the exception of the BB gun felony. Roderick’s sudden departure from Placer High earlier this month may or may not be related to the lockdown and the Evangelista incident and his handling of the situation. Details of Roderick’s administrative leave status have not been made public by school officials or Roderick. Evangelista will return to a country where he has no close family and be dumped somewhere. Although I understand that this is legally what must happen, I question the reasoning. We have thousands of people in California who are here illegally, but who are productive and contributing members of society. We have others who use and abuse our system. Instead of taking a blanket I-hate-all-illegals approach, perhaps it would be best as compassionate members of a civilized society to look at people as individuals. The Journal’s Penne Usher can be reached at or post a comment on