NORCROSS, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) — What started as a request for a local man to fix his broken fence could end with him being deported back to Guatemala.
Andrew Valle, presently a Gwinnett County resident, has been living illegally in America for the past seven years, according to WGCL-TV. His status was discovered after authorities asked him to fix his fence, in keeping with a county ordinance.
“A police officer came and knocked on the door,” Valle told WGCL. “He told me that I had to fix it, and I said, ‘I just need a little more time. I am going to fix it.'”
The warning was reportedly the second one Valle received, at which point the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office decided to issue a citation. When the officer tried to write the ticket, Valle was unable to produce valid identification.
“If the officer can’t verify this person with an ID, verifying who this person is, then eventually, what is going to end up happening … they have to go to jail to post a bond,” Cpl. Ed Ritter of the Gwinnett County police told WGCL.
Thanks to the county’s participation in 287-G, a federal program that gives the sheriff’s office authority to check the immigration status of a held person, Valle’s illegal status was discovered, and he was allegedly placed on an immigration hold through Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“Honestly, what I didn’t like is the officer started to ask me about my immigration status. Things that don’t matter to him,” Valle told the station, insinuating that local authorities had overstepped their bounds. “It is ICE’s job. But, he was asking if I was legal or illegal.”
Ritter said Valle was subject to the same line of questioning as anyone else unable to show a valid form of ID.
“We don’t target anyone based on race, religion, or anything like that,” Ritter told the station. “If they are violating the law, we will be there to talk to them about it regardless of who they are.”
Calls made by CBS Atlanta to the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office were not immediately returned.