Two days after she was awakened before dawn and bused to San Francisco before being driven back to Sacramento and released from custody, Pascale Fusshoeller still has no clear sense of why Immigration Customs Enforcement officials chose to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” — in essence, releasing her on her own recognizance.
Nor does the Luxembourg native know whether they will enforce a deportation order to remove her from the United States for at least 10 years.
Fusshoeller, co-founder of local Internet news site YubaNet, was pulled over for running a stop sign by a California Highway Patrol officer Oct. 8.
She reportedly did not have a driver’s license or any ID on her and provided a false identity — that of her wife, Susan Levitz, whom she married in July. She was booked into the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility on suspicion of felony false impersonation of another, as well as misdemeanor charges of giving false information to a peace officer, obstruction and driving without a license.
The county jail released its hold on her after 48 hours because the District Attorney’s Office had not filed any charges; Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell said Tuesday that no decision has yet been made on whether his office will file against Fusshoeller.
ICE officials picked Fusshoeller up Oct. 11 and temporarily housed her at the Sacramento County Jail until her release.
Fusshoeller said she was awakened at about 3 a.m. Tuesday and bused to San Francisco, calling Levitz at 6:15 a.m. to alert her to the possibility she might be heading to a detention facility in Arizona or Washington.
Then she was told she was being “released back to Sacramento,” which she said she had difficulty processing in her head.
“I asked at least three times, ‘You mean I get to go home?’” she said, adding, “I’m absolutely happy to be home — but I still don’t know what the status of (the deportation) order is.”
Fusshoeller came to the United States on a visa waiver almost 15 years ago and was supposed to sign a waiver of her rights at that time, including the right to contest her deportation, said her immigration attorney, Jim Byrne.
When Fusshoeller was turned over to the ICE officials, she was given an order of removal. The government’s decision to release her on grounds of prosecutorial discretion means simply they have decided not to enforce the order at this time, Byrne said.
This type of release is not normally revoked unless the person is some type of criminal, he added.
“It leaves (her) in a legal limbo,” Byrne said. “We’re trying to clarify whether the deportation order will be rescinded … That’s where we’re at right now.”
Fusshoeller’s criminal attorney, Tom Johnson, said he has contacted ICE officials but has not gotten a response as to her status.
“Most likely, we’re going to have to wait for something to come in the mail,” he said. “We expect to hear something at some point. From our side, we will make efforts to establish a legal status for her. We will ask the U.S. to recognize her as the spouse of an American citizen who is entitled to legal residency.”
Disentangling Fusshoeller’s residency should be “sorted out in a couple of years,” Johnson said, adding, “The government moves at the speed of a glacier.”
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.
“I’m absolutely happy to be home — but I still don’t know what the status of (the deportation) order is.”