The threat of deportation for YubaNet founder Pascale Fusshoeller — who was arrested after a traffic stop Tuesday afternoon — is “dire,” said her spouse, Susan Levitz.
A 48-hour immigration hold has kept Fusshoeller in jail since her arrest, even though the Nevada County District Attorney’s office has not yet reviewed the charges against her.
“We just got some very bad news,” Levitz said Thursday after meeting with an immigration attorney. “There’s a better chance than not ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) will pick up Pascale tomorrow and take her to a detention center somewhere, anywhere from Yuba City to Arizona.”
Fusshoeller, a native of Luxembourg, reportedly was pulled over for running a stop sign. She allegedly did not have a driver’s license or any ID on her and provided a false identity.
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.
Levitz released a statement that called Fusshoeller the victim in a heartbreaking situation, saying, “Her only crime was falling in love in the U.S., a country that didn’t allow gay people to marry.”
According to Levitz, Fusshoeller overstayed her visa almost 15 years ago so the couple could stay together.
“Finally we were allowed to marry, which we did in July, soon after Prop. 8 and DOMA couldn’t stop us,” Levitz said. “We were in the process of getting all our paperwork together to get her green card.”
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, Levitz said.
Instead, she wound up under arrest and reported to immigration.
“I’ve never seen a person booked for a felony for giving false information on a traffic stop,” said Tom Johnson, Fusshoeller’s criminal attorney. “That’s the most aggressive (charge) when it should have just been a citation … On its worst day, whatever they alleged happened should have been a misdemeanor.”
According to Levitz, immigration authorities have discretion on whether or not to deport Fusshoeller — and she’s hoping to rally enough community support to sway that decision.
“Deportations are going on very hard and fast; they’re not using any discretion,” she said. “They don’t care who you are or your reputation in the community.
“They have the right to use discretion, they’ve always had that right,” Levitz continued. “We want them to understand who we are and why it is absolutely inappropriate (to deport) her.”
Levitz said the couple considered their options over the years but believed Fusshoeller would not have met the requirements to garner an employment-based green card.
“You have to demonstrate there is no one in this country who can do your job,” she said.
Beside marriage, the other main paths to permanent residency are political asylum or refugee status.
“I should have been allowed to marry her so I could sponsor her, but we were prevented from doing that,” Levitz said, adding, “Thousands of people have been waiting for (the marriage) law to change.
“What’s so stunning about this is the speed with which ICE is moving against us … as if they’re going after a dangerous criminal,” she said.
Fusshoeller’s arrest has brought YubaNet to a “screeching halt,” Levitz said.
“Pascale was YubaNet’s geek, she did all the technical stuff,” she explained. “I function as the editor for the news.”
Levitz said she doesn’t have the technical skills or the time, especially now, to post on the Internet news site, saying,
“I guess we’ll have to go black.”
Levitz said the first thing she plans on doing Friday morning is call her congressional representative, and urged those who want to support Fusshoeller to do the same.
“It would take someone at the federal level right now to stop Pascale from being moved to a detention center — it’s that dire right now, unless we can get through to someone to encourage them not to do that, that this is the wrong thing to do. Don’t destroy this family and their business.”
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.
“(Pascale’s) only crime was falling in love in the U.S., a country that didn’t allow gay people to marry.”