Postman deliberately threw letters from USCIS: dozens of immigrants suffered - ForumDaily
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Postman deliberately dumped letters from USCIS: dozens of immigrants were affected

Dozens of immigrants in Elko County, Nevada, were affected by a postal worker accused of willfully refusing to deliver immigration documents. Writes about it The nevada independent.

Photo: Shutterstock

Eloise Mendoza, who runs Elko Hispanic Services, is accustomed to constant, monotonous working days in her office, where she helps members of the Hispanic immigrant community with immigration paperwork and translation services.

That quickly changed in 2018 when immigrants flooded her office and raised concerns that their federal immigration documents (green cards, visas and work permits) had not arrived in the mail. People from Elko, Spring Creek, Lamoil, Battle Mountain and West Wendover turned to her for help.

“It really was a nightmare,” Mendoza said.

It looks like someone acted on purpose.

As they looked into the matter themselves, community members and Mendoza found a common thread using delivery tracking numbers—federal documents were delivered to the Salt Lake City, Utah, post office but never made it to the Elko post office.

This failure caused confusion and panic, even costing some people their jobs and $ 1000 in additional application fees.

Citing a lack of assistance or guidance from the Elco Post Office or the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Mendoza contacted Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto's office to report the situation, with some claims being filed back in September 2017.

A June 2020 letter from the Office of the Inspector General to the Senator's office explains that an investigation determined that a Salt Lake City post office employee deliberately threw away immigration papers.

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The accused employee Diane K. Molyneux was immediately fired from her job and the case was referred to the Utah District Attorney's Office for judicial investigation. The employee was charged on two counts: delaying or destroying mail. A criminal trial is expected since the hearing on April 6, 2020 was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A new date has not yet been announced.

“I'm glad to see that the inspector general did the best he could,” Cortez-Masto said. “He did a thorough investigation.”

The penalty for a crime that violates Title 18 of Section 1703 of the United States Code includes a fine or imprisonment of up to five years, or both.

Molyneux's lawyer Wendy Lewis said her client pleaded not guilty to the charges. Mendoza said she was happy to see that the case was resolved, but unfortunately the incident caused a lot of stress for many people.

“It was depressing,” Mendoza described the situation. “People’s stress affected me too. At that moment I regretted that I didn’t have a magic wand that could fix everything. My first priority was to help these people, to calm them down.”

Damage done

While the investigation's decision cleared up, several community members had already paid up to $ 1000 for additional applications, postponed international travel plans, and lost their jobs.

Immigrants participating in the DACA program were particularly affected as the program was tried to be canceled in the same month that the first complaints were received and they were unable to reapply.

“Some of these young people were unable to cope,” Mendoza said. “They are still trying to find a way to work here legally, and two years later we are still fighting for them to get work permits.”

The exact number of casualties is unknown, but Mendoza said she worked with at least 60 people in her area and calculated that the post office worker threw away "hundreds and hundreds" of mailings before she was caught.

A spokeswoman for Senator Cortez-Masto's office said the senator received complaints from two dozen voters in Elko.

Esperanza Garcia Ayala, 27, a DACA recipient, has lived in Elko for 13 years and is among those affected by the problem.

After applying for a DACA renewal twice that year, which cost her an extra $500, she didn't receive her paperwork on time and couldn't keep her job as a development specialist for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.

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She worked for free (for families) with children under 3 years of age with developmental delays or disabilities and provided a range of services.

A colleague advised her to seek help from the Cortes-Masto office. She wasn't sure if this was the right thing to do.

“I was very doubtful and very afraid,” Garcia commented. “When it comes to these issues, you don't really want to talk about them openly because you don't know what people will think of you.”

Cortez-Masto stressed that it is important to hear the opinion of voters.

“That’s why it’s so important that people contact my office,” she said. “My office’s goal and priority is to provide constitutional services and help people in our state get the support they need where possible at the federal level.”

The Senator's representative was able to help Garcia Ayala apply for a new permit from USCIS, which this time arrived at the Reno Post Office, and she was able to reapply for a job after two months of unemployment and loss of income.

“Luckily, I was rehired,” Garcia Ayala said, “but I lost all my vacation time—I had over 100 hours of vacation time and had to start all over again.”

Garcia Ayala is a recent mother and is in the process of applying for a permanent residency visa, which she says takes a lot of time and money, especially given the recent increase in USCIS fees.

Mendoza continues to help the Hispanic community in Elko and remembers the responsibility she felt during this difficult time.

“I am grateful that immigrants believed in me. They came here and believed that we could find a solution together,” concluded Mendoza.

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