A Scottsdale restaurant owner wants immigration authorities to reconsider their decision to deport her husband, a British illegal immigrant who's lived in the country for 30 years.
Stuart Bailey, 53, was arrested at his home on December 7 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and currently waits in a federal holding facility in Eloy for his unwanted flight to England.
"He's not doing very well," says his wife, Gillian Bailey, owner of Scottsdale's Pane-E-Vino Italian restaurant. "He feels dehumanized. He's angry. He's upset and he's scared."
Bailey met Stuart at the restaurant when she began working there 20 years ago, and they later married. He was general manager at the time, having founded the restaurant with another man a few years before. But he wasn't actually allowed to work in the United States. Stuart Bailey is one of an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, having overstayed his visa 30 years ago.
He might have stayed beneath ICE's radar but for two arrests for DUI in the past seven years, including one for extreme DUI in December 2014 that helped put him on an enforcement priority list this year.
Gillian Bailey says Bailey has been sober ever since his last arrest. [He continued to drink after his first DUI, clearly: Stuart's Facebook page contains a June 2013, picture of him in Colorado holding a half-empty beer glass with the note, "Someone has to drink it.")
On Monday evening, she made a tearful plea for her husband's case in a report by Sonu Wasu of Channel 15 News (KNXV-TV), noting that Stuart was "a very kind and giving man" who has helped raise money for charities and volunteers at a local soup kitchen. Wasu was on a ride-along with ICE when they stopped by Bailey's house for the arrest; an ICE agent told her that given Bailey's DUIs, agents feel "we're trying to protect the public."
Bailey tells New Times that Stuart has been caught by immigration authorities previously and had gone through a voluntary removal process. He came back to the States after that, though, and showed up one day to an immigration office with his lawyer, planning to throw himself on the mercy of the authorities.
"They said 'we are too busy, go away,'" according to Gillian Bailey. "The attorney told him to stay under the radar."
That was 20 years ago. Bailey didn't stay under the radar, however — later, he got those two DUIs. Gillian Bailey, herself a South African immigrant who became a U.S. citizen, sees now that the attorney's advice had been inappropriate, and realizes that she and her husband should have tried to take other steps that could have resulted in a legal status for him.
When her husband first came to the country 30 years ago, the government gave him a Social Security number, she says. He's been using it ever since to work, and files a tax return every year with it. New Times couldn't verify that claim.
In theory, Stuart Bailey could have remained in the United States and made money by starting his own business — a loophole in immigration law used by many undocumented people. But after the restaurant passed through the hands of several owners, Gillian Bailey ultimately bought the business in 2012 from its last owner.
Now, "I'm hell-bent on making noise" about Stuart's arrest, Gillian Bailey says. At ICE's discretion, her husband possibly could have stayed in the country while authorities processed his paperwork, she says.
"He can be released on bond and have a hearing," Bailey says. "Immigration has denied it."
However, under the Visa Waiver Program in which Bailey entered the United States in the 1990s, immigrants waive their right to a hearing and aren't usually entitled to court review of their case.
Bailey was authorized to remain in the country for no longer than three months, according to ICE spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts O'Keefe. She points out that his extreme DUI resulted in a 45-day jail sentence.
"ICE is currently in the process of making arrangements to repatriate Mr. Bailey to England," she says.
Bailey says she and her daughter — Stuart's stepdaughter — are distraught that Stuart will be ripped from the family and deported to a country he barely knows anymore. He'll probably move in at first with his elderly mother, she says. In five to 10 years, he'll be allowed to immigrate legally to live in the United States.
If the circumstances behind Bailey's arrest and his shocked family sound familiar, they should — because the same thing happens hundreds of times a year in Arizona, although typically it happens to Mexicans and other Hispanic undocumented immigrants.
Cases like Bailey's that involve non-Hispanic, English-speaking immigrants are important to activists like Lydia Guzman, who want to see immigration law reformed in a way that lets more immigrants stay with their families. Unlike similar stories that appear regularly on Univision and other local Spanish stations, this one is more easily understood by non-Spanish-speaking residents. And that helps Guzman, executive director at Respect Respeto AZ, make her point.
"What we have here is a symptom of a broken immigration system," Guzman says. "How can somebody be here for 30 years and still not be able to legalize?"
Statistics show that 40 percent of all undocumented immigrants in the United States overstayed their visas, she says.
"There's a lot of nice, hard-working people" in that group, she says. "Everybody should be given a fair chance."
While the idea of a fair chance may be true in general, Bailey's two DUIs arguably show a lack of judgment and disregard for U.S. laws that's especially egregious because of his undocumented status. Many people consider a DUI crash caused by undocumented people to be more outrageous than that caused by a U.S. citizen since the perpetrator should never have been in the country in the first place. Indeed, President-elect Donald Trump rallied supporters around the idea of the life-taking illegal immigrant.
Bailey's far from the worst offender. According to the right-wing group Judicial Watch, ICE freed nearly 20,000 immigrants last year who had been arrested for similar, or worse, crimes than Bailey's. Of the roughly 20,000 "criminal aliens," the group's April 2016 report states, about 12,000 had been convicted of DUI and thousands more convicted of crimes including robbery, burglary, assault, and sexual assault.
Yet the future probably doesn't bode well for undocumented people like Bailey: Trump vowed during his campaign to deport all criminal aliens on "Day One" of his first term, which begins January 20.
The immigration system, under Trump, appears poised to deport more people like Stuart Bailey, not fewer.
Gillian Bailey says that if her efforts to keep her husband in the country fail, she'll operate the restaurant without him, at least in the short term.
"I've got a business to run, and business is still good," she says. "This is just wrong."
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