Ecology Center’s Recycling Director, Daniel Maher, Faces Unjust Deportation

20150706danielThe US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has seized the Ecology Center’s Recycling Director, Daniel Maher, and is detaining him indefinitely under the threat of immediate deportation to China. Daniel has been an integral part of the Ecology Center for almost a decade, leading Berkeley’s curbside recycling program. Daniel immigrated from Macau when he was a toddler, and does not speak the language of the country to which he would be deported. What is happening to Daniel is unjust to him and to all those who love and depend on him. Anoop Prasad of the Asian Law Caucus (ALC) in San Francisco is handling Daniel’s case. Anoop is skilled in assisting individuals who have been detained by ICE in violation of their rights. Please sign this petition, urging his release.

The Ecology Center staff, recycling crew, and Board stand behind Daniel and want him released as soon as possible. He is an exceptional employee and a vital part of our leadership team. His expertise, kindness, and work ethic are unparalleled. Daniel is a skilled operations manager with deep technical knowledge and mechanical acumen. He is calm, fair, competent manager who engenders loyalty and respect. He is a beloved, intelligent, hardworking, generous friend and coworker, the first to get to work and the last to leave, always ready and willing to help people out.

The Ecology Center hired Daniel to run our Residential Curbside Recycling Program in 2006. He was the most qualified applicant for the position and has worked tirelessly throughout his tenure to develop and maintain an exemplary recycling program. We were aware of his immigration status when we hired him; he had a permit to work and was eligible for employment in the US, where he has lived most of his life.

According to the Asian Law Caucus, a crackdown on corruption in China is having devastating impacts on unintended immigrants. Since late 2014, the US and China have held meetings and agreed to coordinate repatriation and deportation proceedings for Chinese immigrants living in the U.S. China is seeking approximately 100 fugitives for corruption cases, mostly involving cases of people fleeing China in the 1990s. Since the start of 2015, it is estimated that about 680 fugitives suspected of economic crimes have already been deported to China. Immigration attorneys nationwide have seen a spike in ICE raids at the homes of Chinese immigrants, many of whom are not or were not involved in corruption crimes. Daniel, for example, was a baby when he was living in Macau and could not have committed crimes of corruption. These raids are excessive and over-inclusive, and tens of thousands of immigrants are being swept up in the dragnet.

Daniel and the other Bay Area detainees seized on June 2, 2015 were transferred from the ICE detention center in San Francisco to Yuba County jail. This trip took 24 hours, during which time the detainees were not provided any food or water. After 10 days at Yuba County jail, Daniel was transferred to the Adelanto Detention Center. During that 36-hour trip, the detainees were forced to sleep on concrete floors in unmarked buildings in seemingly random locations. Daniel’s Adelanto jailers discarded his medications. Since his arrival, he has repeatedly put in written requests to see a doctor at Adelanto. He has been without his medications for over 2 and 1/2 weeks now.

Ecology Center staff are regularly in communication with Daniel, though ICE makes it hard to track his whereabouts and hard for detainees to communicate with their families, friends, and legal representation with various actions including frequent relocations and long periods in which he does not have access to make phone calls, despite family and friends depositing money in a phone account for him to use. The Ecology Center has committed to regularly visit him, to ensure that we do not lose track of him, and ICE is unable to isolate him.

It is likely that Daniel’s record from over 20 years ago made him a target for ICE. At 19, Daniel fell in with the wrong crowd and participated in a robbery; he was convicted of a felony and served a 5-year prison term. He was held by ICE for another year and a half, then released. Daniel’s deportation officer wrote, “It [is] hard to see why he committed the robbery other than being very young and influenced by his peers…He is bright and seems committed to living a legitimate and law-abiding life if released. Mr. Maher should be considered for release.”

Daniel did not allow the dark chapter of his life to define him and has spent the past 15 years building a positive life. He is a valued and respected member of our staff. We are holding his job open for him, and need him back where he belongs, with his family, friends, and coworkers.

Please help us free our beloved coworker and friend. Sign the petition.

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12 thoughts on “Ecology Center’s Recycling Director, Daniel Maher, Faces Unjust Deportation

  1. I was told by an immigration attorney that once there is a felony on record, no matter how long ago, an immigrant can never apply for citizensip. That is a law that needs to be changed. As in Daniel’s case, he has been an upstanding citizen who works and pays his taxes. Why should he be denied citizenship..?

  2. Thus is an absolute travesty! Daniel IS AN AMERICAN by all logical counts. He has been here since he was just three years old! This man is a hard working, tax paying, honorable person who DOES NOT belong in prison or deserve to be deported. If the USA sends Daniel to China, he would be completely lost! He doesn’t even speak their language or have a place to live there, and I’m pretty sure that China doesn’t need any more homeless people. Where is the justice here? Let Daniel go back to the home he knows in California, back to work, and back to the family and the people who love him, and stop wasting OUR TAX DOLLARS on keeping people like him in prison! Let’s see some REAL JUSTICE and FREE DANIEL MAHER!!!

  3. Amongst all the injustice, it is beautiful to see the Ecology Center backing and supporting Daniel so much, which only speaks to how remarkable he must be to garner such support. Thank you!

    At the same time, it makes me sad for the number of people who must be facing similar situations and aren’t able to receive such support. I hope one day we will finally recognize ALL deportations as inhumane. #not1more

  4. Was Daniel born in Macau? Portuguese Macau was administered by the Portuguese Empire from the mid-16th century until 1999. It was the last European colony in Asia. In 1557 Macau was rented by Portugal from China as a trading post. The Portuguese Empire ran the city under Chinese authority/sovereignty until 1887. Then Macau became a sovereign “Portuguese” colony. Sovereignty over Macau was transferred “back” to China in December of 1999. If Daniel was born in the Portuguese colony of Macau after 1887 and before 1999 (which obviously his age would attest to that time frame) and especially if he is Macanese (mixed Portuguese and Asian ancestry), could those not be used to argue the sovereign country/colony he was born in and an ethnic citizen of no longer exists? That he never was a Chinese citizen to begin with?

    From Wikipedia
    “The former Portuguese territory of Macau became a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China on 20 December 1999.
    Portugal had extended its nationality laws to Macau and many inhabitants of Macau hold Portuguese citizenship on this basis. It is no longer possible to acquire Portuguese citizenship by connection with Macau after the 20 December 1999 transfer of sovereignty to China,[8][9] except by birth or association with the territory previous to that date.[10]”

    Branded as an American felon of mixed blood, deporting (read exiling) him to foreign country (China) will put him in danger of ethnic persecution, biases and bigotry and he fears for his life? If a federal judge ordered his release on writ of habeas corpus once already due to the Supreme Court prohibiting indefinite detention, and if these arguments (just throwing them out there, not knowing his full ancestry or how international law apply’s to ex-colonies ) are valid, perhaps tying this up in court, the UN, making it a legal quagmire, will gain him release again till the matter can be resolved and hopefully in his favor. Best of luck to all. My prayers are with you Daniel……..

    • Portugal didn’t necessarily have birthright citizenship after 1981, so it’s unclear what his status was with respect to Portuguese citizenship. I had a coworker who was legally a Portuguese citizen born in Macau, but she was born there well before birthright citizenship was eliminated.

      I believe it was rather complicated how it all works. Unlike Hong Kong, Portugal considered those citizens in Macau to be full Portuguese citizens who were free to maintain that citizenship indefinitely. I don’t know how that worked with China since they generally don’t recognize dual citizenship. Hong Kong had a special status under British law, and upon transfer to China they were Chinese citizens with a special status as Hong Kong citizens.

  5. Pingback: ICE Frees Berkeley Man Facing Deportation to China | News Fix | KQED News

  6. Pingback: ICE Frees Berkeley Man Facing Deportation to China | SF News Reporter

  7. i work with daniel as a vendor for more than 12 years he should be released now.
    he works hard and is a valued person of our community .

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