Francisco Ibarra-Hernandez has a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday.
A trip to Ohio stopped short on August 24 when authorities in St. Peters stopped a man transporting undocumented immigrants in his van on Interstate 70.
Francisco Ibarra-Hernandez was headed east on I-70 in a Toyota Sienna when St. Peters Police stopped his vehicle and found 11 undocumented immigrants inside, including Ibarra-Hernandez.
Prosecutors have accused Ibarra-Hernandez of taking money to take the illegal immigrants from Phoenix to job sites across the country.
Several of the passengers told police they did not know where they were being taken, according to a federal affidavit. All said they were traveling to work in construction but couldn’t provide an exact destination. Law enforcement found handwritten lists in Ibarra-Hernandez’s vehicle indicating he had transported illegal immigrants before. He's been charged with one count of illegal reentry of an alien and 10 counts of transporting illegal aliens.
According to court documents, Ibarra-Hernandez has an extensive criminal history in Texas and Indiana that dates back to 2004 for crimes ranging from misdemeanor possession of marijuana, probation revocation, burglary and unlawful carrying of a weapon. He has an outstanding felony warrant in Indiana for failing to show at a hearing related to felony possession of cocaine and driving without a license.
Ibarra-Hernandez was deported from the U.S. in 2006 after entering the country illegally in 2004.
With this history in mind, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Tihen wrote in a motion for pre-trial detention that Ibarra-Hernandez should be detained.
However, Ibarra-Hernadez’s relatives wrote letters to the court, begging a judge to allow their relative to stay in the U.S.
His older brother, Jose, claimed Ibarra-Hernandez had lived in the U.S. since he was around 4 years old. Their whole family has lived here since the 1970s, he wrote, and they have no family in Mexico.
“Even though I am a citizen of the United States, I wasn’t able to help my brother fix his status,” Jose said. “There hasn’t been any laws that can help my brother. When the Dreamers law came into effect, he was already too old to qualify.”
Ibarra-Hernandez’s sister, Rose, said her brother lives with her, his wife, two sons and their sick mother. Rose wrote that it would be very hard for her to take care of their mother alone. Their mother has Lou Gehrig’s disease and cannot control her limbs.
In addition, Rose told the court that one of Ibarra-Hernandez’s children, a three-year-old boy, is autistic.
“Not only does my brother help me with taking care of our mom but also helps us financially as well,” Rose wrote. “It would be very hard for us if he wasn’t around since he also has a three-year-old that was diagnosed with autism.”
Ibarra-Hernandez’s wife, Jaqueline, made a similar plea. She said her youngest son still cannot speak, and it’s hard for her to take care of him without her husband. She has an 18-year-old son from a different marriage, who Jaqueline said Ibarra-Hernandez has raised like his own.
“We need the support of Francisco to help our kids and stay together as a family,” she wrote.
Ibarra-Hernandez’s boss, Antonio Alvarez. verified to the court that Ibarra-Hernandez works 40 hours per week as a “general laborer” at his company in Dallas, Texas. He’s “always on time and is polite, respectful and very responsible,” Alvarez wrote.
At the time of his detainment, officers of the St. Peters Police Department stopped Ibarra-Hernandez’s vehicle because it failed to stay in a single lane.
Once an officer approached the vehicle, Ibarra-Hernandez immediately began to speak to an officer in English from the passenger seat. He explained that the vehicle’s current driver was only at the wheel because Ibarra-Hernandez felt tired.
According to court documents, Ibarra-Hernandez told a Homeland Security agent that if they deported him, he would come back with “30 others.” The agent took him into custody and found he had past immigration and criminal history.
Ibarra-Hernandez allowed his vehicle’s other passengers to “depart the scene in his vehicle after calling his brother,” according to an affidavit.
“I realize that my brother has not made the best choices in his life 一 he has made mistakes [as] all of us have, but I believe he deserves a chance to stick around for his family and my mother,” Ibarra-Hernandez’s brother Jose wrote in his statement to the court.
Ibarra-Hernandez has an arraignment and detention hearing on Thursday.