YubaNet founder Pascale Fusshoeller, who has been facing deportation since she was arrested by a California Highway Patrol officer Oct. 8, was released from custody Tuesday.
“Boy — we’re so grateful for the decision,” said a jubilant Susan Levitz, Fusshoeller’s partner while on the road from Sacramento, where Fusshoeller had been detained by immigration authorities. “We’re on our way home.”
By mid-afternoon, a new posting on YubaNet simply said “Happening Now and YubaNet’s regular news will resume tomorrow, Oct. 16th. Thank you — Pascale.”
YubaNet, which started in 1999 as a free online publication for the wider Sierra Nevada region and which has become known for its up-to-the-minute reporting on fire news, had gone black since Fusshoeller’s arrest.
Fusshoeller, a native of Luxembourg, was pulled over for running a stop sign; she reportedly did not have a driver’s license or any ID on her and provided a false identity.
That’s because Fusshoeller overstayed her visa almost 15 years ago so she could stay with Levitz.
The two married in July and had been in the process of getting their paperwork together to get Fusshoeller her green card, Levitz said.
Fusshoeller tried to pass herself off as Levitz during the traffic stop, hoping they’d just write a ticket and she could be on her way — but she wound up under arrest and was reported to immigration, Levitz said. 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, paving the way for Immigration Customs Enforcement officials to pick Fusshoeller up Friday morning.
Fusshoeller had signed a deportation order to remove her from the country and to send her to Luxembourg with no possibility of applying to return for 10 years, Levitz said.
Since news of the detention spread through Nevada County, a Facebook page in support of Fusshoeller has helped coordinate fundraising for her legal costs and a campaign to convince Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein to advocate for her.
Levitz said she does not know at this point what led to Fusshoeller’s release.
“Pascale is exhausted,” she said. “All she wants to do is just go home.”
Fusshoeller told Levitz the ICE officials were polite and professional — but that conditions in Sacramento County Jail were “horrendous.”
“It’s beyond the pale what she has been through,” Levitz said. “She (was) cold the whole time she had been in detention. She pretty much was in solitary confinement with just the bare necessities.”
Levitz said the couple’s initial plans center around spending some time together but that Fusshoeller intends to speak out about the situation that led to her incarceration.
“What’s most important is that we get her feeling OK,” Levitz said. “She needs a timeout.”
She added they both wanted to acknowledge the people who “worked so hard for her release … We thank them for the massive outpouring of support.”
Fusshoeller’s attorney, Tom Johnson, said ICE is contending that because Fusshoeller entered the country on a three-month visa waiver, she forfeited her right to a hearing.
“It’s not over,” he said Tuesday night.
“They are allowed to release her on her own recognizance, while the federal government still seeks her removal.”
Johnson has said that litigating Fusshoeller’s case will most likely center around two key factors — the visa waiver and the impact of her deportation on her wife, an American citizen.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.
“It’s not over. They are allowed to release her on her own recognizance, while the federal government still seeks her removal.”
Pascale Fusshoeller’s attorney