Arnoldo Agreda-Rodriguez, a former kitchen employee of Ivy Club, was deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in early August 2016 following his fourth criminal arrest and a series of criminal offenses dating back to 2005.
Rodriguez, originally from Guatemala, had been living in New Jersey as an undocumented worker for 15 years and had been most recently employed at Ivy Club until the spring of 2016, according to an article by centraljersey.com. He is either 43 or 44 years of age, as court records list two different birth dates.
Court records show that Rodriguez’s previous arrests in 2005 in which he physically assaulted an unidentified victim, “causing scratches to the victim’s head and abdomen,” and 2012 in which he threatened to kill a former roommate while holding a 13-inch kitchen knife did not lead to official convictions. Rodriguez was admitted to the pretrial intervention program and had the case dismissed.
On Jan. 22 last year, Rodriguez was charged with terroristic threats and simple assault on his girlfriend after she refused to continue to have sex with him, feeling abdominal pains. According to court records, Rodriguez grew angry and grabbed the woman’s neck and hit her on the head “causing visible injury.” He also said to her, “This is the last time I will see your face.”
The woman allegedly escaped out of the window and initially claimed she was abducted and forced into the vacant house on Green Street.
In February last year, the ICE reported that it would place a detainer for Princeton police to hold Rodriguez following the incident above with his girlfriend. The ICE issues these detainer requests to local law enforcement in order to keep undocumented immigrants in custody after they would otherwise be released for local charges.
Despite ICE detainers for Princeton police to hold Rodriguez, he was released from Mercer County jail in February and the Prosecutor’s Office dropped the case on June 7 due to “insufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution.”
Rodriguez was released from county jail again in June following his fourth and final criminal arrest on May 21. Court records show that Rodriguez had threatened to kill a former roommate in a Green Street apartment while holding an eight-inch blade saying, “Do you want to die tonight?”
The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the most recent case on Aug.11 after learning of Rodriguez’s deportation earlier in the month.
Ivy Club Steward Betty Rascher declined to comment. The Executive Board of Governors for Ivy Club did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
According to Princeton immigration lawyer Ryan Lilienthal, every U.S. employer has the obligation to confirm the employee’s eligibility for employment — both with regards to their identity and to their employment eligibility by ensuring that the employee completes an I-9 form.
This form contains the employee’s basic information as well as citizenship or immigration status. Employment laws require that the employee must provide official documentation supporting that on the I-9 form in order to confirm the employee’s identity and employment eligibility.
Lilienthal commented that identifying which workers are actually undocumented is very difficult for employers, who are caught between two competing tensions: One direction dealing with hiring someone who is not authorized to work and the ensuing legal violations that may occur, and the other tension concerning the refusal to hire a person who is actually authorized to work, which may be considered employment discrimination.
In addition, Lilienthal noted that because Rodriguez was never actually convicted for a crime, Ivy Club as a private institution holds no obligation to fire the employee despite his several arrests.
Following New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines, Princeton police are ordered to inquire about an arrestee’s citizenship, nationality, and immigration status to federal authorities if the individual has been arrested for an indictable offense or for driving under the influence, according to police spokesman Lt. Jon Bucchere.
Yet in situations other than those mandated by the Attorney General’s Directive, Princeton Police Department policy does not need to honor immigration detainer requests.
In January last year, town officials sponsored an education session for undocumented immigrants at St. Paul’s Catholic Church on their rights and steps on how to act if confronted by ICE authorities. Some of these steps urged local immigrants to remain silent until they had legal representation, and not to allow ICE agents to enter their home without a warrant, among others.
Together with Princeton police, town officials have expressed their desire to build greater cooperation with the immigrant community of Princeton and continue such forms of education going forward.
ICE’s press office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.