A Graham mother is facing deportation after an off-duty officer working for Time Warner Cable determined she used a fake Social Security card when setting up a cable account.
If Lorena Yanez-Mata is ordered deported at a court date scheduled Thursday, the single mother could be separated from her 7-year-old daughter, a U.S. citizen.
She is expected to speak at 3 p.m. today in front of the Burlington Time Warner Cable store as part of a demonstration organized by the N.C. Dream Team, a group of young immigrant rights activists.
Yanez-Mata, 26, had no criminal record when was arrested on July 30 by Burlington police when an off-duty officer working for Time Warner Cable determined she used a false Social Security card when asked to fill out paperwork to set up cable at her house.
She was arrested on a felony charge of obtaining property under false pretenses and transported to the Alamance County Jail, where she was flagged for deportation and later released on bail. (Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson, who runs the jail, is also being accused by the federal justice department officials for violating the civil rights of Hispanic residents, for his department’s treatment of Latino residents inside and outside of the jail.)
The criminal charges were dropped Tuesday by Alamance District Attorney’s office, but Yanez-Mata still faces deportation when she goes before an immigration judge Thursday in Charlotte, said Ann Marie Dooley, Yanez-Mata’s immigration attorney.
Dooley said Yanez-Mata, who has worked at a local restaurant for four years washing tables, initially asked to use a different type of identification to set up her cable account, but that a representative said she had to use a Social Security card.
“There are a lot of questions” about why Yanez-Mata was targeted, Dooley said. “Right now, we’re just trying to help Lorena.”
Time Warner Cable issued a statement saying it does not routinely turn over customer’s information to law enforcement.
“It is not our policy to share this kind of information with law enforcement and this action was not following any Time Warner Cable procedure or direction given from any Time Warner Cable employee,” wrote TWC spokesman Scott Pryzwansky in a statement. “TWC did not refer Ms. Yanez-Mata to either the county prosecutor or Homeland Security and did not request prosecution. TWC has no interest in charges being brought against Ms. Yanez-Mata.”
But police accounts seem to contradict some of that, with the off-duty officer writing in a police investigative report that he looked into the matter while he was working a security job for Time Warner Cable and was asked by a customer representative to determine if the identification was valid.
Corporal Andrew Barker, though not on duty at the time, called up the Social Security Administration to check to see if the name on the card matched Yanez’s name, according to an investigative report filed by Barker. An agent informed him it didn’t match.
“This officer, K.A. Barker, was working in an off duty capacity at the Time Warner Cable in Burlington. An employee, Wendy Johnson asked me if a Social Security Card looked real. It had the name, Lorena Yazez (sic) Mata on it….,” Barker wrote in the police report.
He then called out a Burlington police offer to the cable office, and Yanez-Mata was arrested.
Burlington police indicated they, too, don’t try to go out and target immigrants to determine if they’re living in the country under the proper immigration documents, said Asst. Police Chief Chris Verdeck.
In this situation, police were called by a Time Warner Cable representative, and asked to investigate, he said.
“It’s not something that we go out looking for,” Vendeck said.
N.C. Policy Watch will have a larger article tomorrow on the case, and reporter Sarah Ovaska will be live-tweeting from the demonstration through Twitter, @SarahOvaska.