DPS Officer's Pursuit of DREAMer Lands Woman in Stir for Six Months (w/Update)

Carmen Cornejo (in turquoise dress, center) and the DREAMers, demonstrating for Sol Zenil Wednesday at Phoenix's ICE office

If you need an illustration of Arizona's diseased "attrition through enforcement" mentality, look no further than the case of Solaguahire Zenil, a local DREAMer, who is currently in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

See also:
-The MCAO Follows ICE's Blueprint for Separating Immigrant Families

According to her immigration attorney Jose Penalosa, Zenil, 23, pleaded guilty this Monday to one misdemeanor count of possession of a forgery device. This, after spending six months in jail, nonbondable, because she was accused of felony forgery charges and presumed to be undocumented.

Normally, ICE would release someone like Zenil after taking custody of her. She's a DREAMer, who has been in the United States since she was five, and she's DACA-eligible, meaning she would benefit from President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Most importantly, her conviction is for a misdemeanor, not a felony.

Why she has not been released yet has so troubled her fellow DREAMers that they demonstrated today outside Phoenix's ICE office, demanding her freedom. She may have been taken to ICE's Eloy Detention Center, but so far, Penalosa has not been able to make contact with his client.

"If they take her to Eloy, then I'll have access to her," he told me, as protesters chanted, "Free Sol Now," nearby. "Once I have her case number, I can file a petition for a bond hearing."

But the fact Zenil remains in ICE custody is only the tip of a very unusual iceberg, if you'll excuse the pun. It is unheard of for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office under Bill Montgomery to offer an undocumented person a misdemeanor plea after that individual has been charged with class four forgery, essentially for working without proper paperwork.

So why did the MCAO make this offer on the same day that Zenil's trial was to begin?

Penalosa says the county attorney offered this unprecedented bargain because it discovered that the Social Security Number Zenil was using to work at a clothing store was valid and belonged to her.

"At the end of the day, it came out that this was her own Social Security Number that she obtained in 1995," Penalosa claimed. "That's why they went to the misdemeanor and dropped the two felony charges."

Penalosa said that before 1996, anybody could apply for a Social Security Number and get one, legally. He said Zenil's public defender told him that this is why the prosecutor cut them such an unusual deal: Not because the prosecutor suddenly developed a conscience, but because the prosecutor had no case.

So why not drop all charges against Zenil?

"She could have [gone to trial] and been vindicated," Penalosa said. "But the county wanted something to hold onto, to say, `Hey, we did this till the end, and therefore her detention was lawful.' That's going to be their argument."

But if the Social Security Number is legit, how can Zenil be guilty of possession of a forgery device?

"That forgery device was a pen," Penalosa said. "That's what the public defender told me [the prosecutor said] -- with which she filled out a form."

And what punishment did Zenil receive?

"One day probation," Penalosa stated.

(Note: The MCAO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)


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18 comments
robertmcdonald
robertmcdonald

I used to work at Eloy Detention Center, not a nice place.

robert_graham
robert_graham topcommenter

"According to her immigration attorney Jose Penalosa, Zenil, 23, pleaded guilty this Monday to one misdemeanor count of possession of a forgery device. This, after spending six months in jail, nonbondable, because she was accused of felony forgery charges and presumed to be undocumented."

And she should be in hot water because SHE COMITTED A CRIME you idiot!!!!!!  You think she should get a free pass just because she is a DREAMer?  Actually, her DREAM status must be revoked and she should be deported. Oh, and the proper term is "ILLEGAL" not undocumented

yourproductsucks
yourproductsucks

What document did she forge?  What information did she misrepresent?  You can't charge someone with possession of a forgery device without the rest of the elements.  Those elements seem to be missing from the story.

dennis20
dennis20 topcommenter

She was charged with possession of a forgery device. 

Was it a printing press that made forged 100 dollar bills? Nope. 

Was it a scanner, computer and software for making fake ID's for college students to drink with? Nope. 

Was it malware stealing credit card info off the internet? Nope. 

It was a pen in the hands of a 3 year old.  Nice work Montgomery. I feel so much safer now.  This is what Sheriff Arpaio, DPS and Bill Montgomery are tying up our courts with.   How they sleep at night is a real mystery.  

dreamactaz
dreamactaz

Taking pictures of a person cited??? I did not know that.  I knew the DPS officer had arranged a meeting with Sol in a parking lot of a Walgreens... Yeah, creepy.


PissOnArpaio
PissOnArpaio

Arizona, the place that hates everyone but white knuckle draggers

DNichols
DNichols

@Joe Arpaio's Butt Monkey (JAF)

Jan Brewer Defruaded Social Security for $75,000.00 to reward her Knife Point Rapist son Ron as he served out his sentence locked up.

Governor Brewer said: "We are a land of Laws, all Laws".

But really she meant Laws which can be perverted, and applied to Hispanic's.

What about Justice for Thieves like Jan Brewer?!

Arizona only "Enforces Select Laws of thier choice."

You Idiot!

robert_graham
robert_graham topcommenter

@yourproductsucks Of course that part has been purposely left out but yes, we want to know what did she forge?  I bet she forged documents leading to her Dream Act status just like the millions of others has done and will do.

robert_graham
robert_graham topcommenter

@dennis20 Forgery is a crime regardless of what was forged. It's always Arpaio's fault isn't it?

robert_graham
robert_graham topcommenter

@PissOnArpaio Aah poor baby. I don't know about that but I can guarantee you that Arizona hates you. Now pack your bags and get out if you don't like it here. Piss on you!

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