San Diego

Couple Detained by US Border Patrol After Traffic Stop by Deputies in Mission Valley

A couple stopped by San Diego County sheriff’s deputies for a cracked windshield were turned over to federal officials, and the incident has sparked some questions regarding protocol, according to a published report.

Carlos Nieblas-Ortiz and his wife, Martha Valenzuela-Luna, were stopped by two deputies in Mission Valley on June 25, according to a U.S. Border Patrol statement provided to NBC 7. The story was first reported by NBC 7 media partner the Voice of San Diego.

The couple was with their 14-year-old daughter and 20-year-old son, a DACA recipient, at the time, Nieblas-Ortiz told Telemundo 20.

Nieblas-Ortiz said deputies never asked them for their immigration status, and did not issue a citation, but the pair were not allowed to leave. Instead, deputies called U.S. Border Patrol, the Voice of San Diego reported. 

In a statement, Border Patrol spokesperson Mark Endicott confirmed they detained the couple. 

"The U.S. Border Patrol does confirm that two individuals were arrested for immigration offenses on June 25, 2017, near Dana Landing in San Diego, California, after agents arrived to the scene of a vehicle stop that was conducted by another law enforcement agency," the statement read.

The couple's immigration lawyer, Daniel Castaneda, told NBC 7 the couple was detained because they had a cracked windshield. 

"Mr. Nieblas informs me that he presented his ID, his drivers license to the officer, and instead of being cited or ticketed or anything, they made him wait for over an hour, and the sheriff's department apparently called immigration on him," Castaneda said.

Nieblas-Ortiz said his two children were worried when the situation unfolded. 

“I can see that my daughter and son are afraid about the situation," Nieblas-Ortiz said. "So are we.”

Nieblas-Ortiz was released on bail, but he is still not sure about whether they will be deported. 

“I just want my life to be released. We are all in limbo. I don’t know what’s going to happen," he told Telemundo 20.

On January 25, President Donald Trump issued an executive order authorizing local law enforcement agencies to deport undocumented immigrants who have criminal records.

Many living in San Diego County feared that local law enforcement officers would be called to enforce federal immigration law.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department said policy dictates deputies will not stop and arrest individuals based on immigration law.

Ryan Keim, SDSO spokesman, told NBC 7 their investigation in this incident was related to narcotics trafficking and not immigration status. 

“I want to make something very clear. We have a policy, and we do not detain, question or do immigration enforcement,” Keim told NBC 7.

“The Sheriff’s Department doesn’t have the authority or the man power to conduct immigration enforcement,” Keim added.

Keim said in this case, deputies saw the low-riding truck in Mission Bay, a familiar spot for traffickers to unload drugs that will then get picked up by other cars. 

The car had no gap between the tire vehicle --- "all indicators of possible narcotics trafficking," Keim said.

Deputies are still looking into the ongoing felony criminal investigation, Keim said. 

Being in the country without documentation is not a criminal act the sheriff's department will actively enforce, according to an official statement.

"Deputies will not stop or detain a subject to check their documentation or immigration status based on the appearance of foreign ancestry alone," the statement reads. "Whether they are a victim or a witness to a crime, we do not want our immigrant residents to be afraid to call the Sheriff’s Department."

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