Attorney for Overland woman detained by ICE says law is on her client’s side

ST. LOUIS – The attorney for an Overland woman facing deportation after being in the US illegally for years is turning to the courts to try and keep the woman here.

Ilsa Guzman-Fajardo was arrested at the Robert A. Young Federal Building on Tuesday.

Her attorney, Evita Tolu, said the law is on the side of her client.

Guzman-Fajardo, a wife and mother of three, has been in the US illegally for 20 years; nearly all of that time in St. Louis.

Her family and friends said she’s never faced any problems until she was taken into custody at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office downtown.

Tolu was with Guzman-Fajardo when she was arrested. She was back at the same office Wednesday to deliver an emergency motion meant to stop Guzman-Fajardo’s pending deportation back to her native country of Honduras.

The motion specifically argues that when Guzman-Fajardo first crossed into the US in 1999 and asked for asylum, she was given incomplete paperwork by authorities for her court hearing. Tolu claimed the paperwork did not list a specific date, place, and time for the hearing.

Tolu said that violated Guzman-Fajardo’s due process rights and since she did not know where to go for her hearing, the deportation order should be invalid.

The order was issued in January 2000 after Guzman-Fajardo did not show up for court.

Tolu also filed the motion with the San Diego immigration court where Guzman-Fajardo’s case was heard.

According to Tolu, Guzman-Fajardo has been a model citizen in the US and has regularly checked in with authorities since she learned about the deportation order in 2014.

Tolu said Guzman-Fajardo was in the Montgomery County Jail Tuesday evening but will be transferred to the Pulaski County Detention Center in southern Illinois. Tolu said Guzman-Fajardo's family was accepting donations online to help cover the cost of her legal fees.

A spokesperson for ICE said authorities were simply executing the judge’s deportation order. It’s unclear when Guzman-Fajardo may be deported.

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