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The mother of five from the age of 5 years of age to 11 months is held by Home Land Security.


October 1, 2012, Omaha, Nebraska.

Sanjuana Uttecht has been married to her husband Thomas Uttecht, an American Citizen, for over six years. Seven (7) months ago Mrs. Uttecht, who was brought to the United States by her parents when she was six (6) years old and has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was arguing with her mother-in-law over what to feed her five kids, Benjamin Uttecht (5), Silas Uttecht (3), Asher Uttecht (2), Phoebe Uttecht (2) and Leah Uttecht (11 months). A neighbor overheard the argument and called the police, who arrested Mrs. Uttecht and charged her with disturbing the peace. Now a federal court will decide if Mrs. Uttecht, who has been jailed by Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (“ICE”) for over seven (7) months and denied her medication, should be released during her immigration court proceedings. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) has threatened to detained her during and after all proceedings to determine if she should be granted a form of asylum in the United States due to her mental disability.

Sanjuana Uttecht has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has received shock treatments and medication to help control her disease. Her lawyers are arguing that she should granted a form of asylum in the United States because that this disorder, when combined with the fact that she has had psychotic episodes, make her extremely vulnerable to abuse if she is deported back to Mexico, where the only family she has are two uncles who belong to drug cartels. An immigration judge heard testimony on the case on October 3rd in Omaha, Nebraska and will soon be making a decision on the matter. ICE has said they may continue detaining her even if she wins.

Even though Mrs. Uttecht has been married to an American Citizen for over six years, Thomas Uttecht of Norfork, Nebrasa, she is facing deportation over an incident which occurred fourteen (14) years ago when she was eighteen (18) years old in which she gave her high school ID to immigration authorities when re-entering the United States. Mrs. Uttecht was persuaded to go to Mexico during her senior year in high school by a pastor and his wife who later used her as a domestic slave in various Mexican households. After she was raped in Mexico, she was told by the pastor she could return using her student ID. The use of the student ID by then eighteen (18) year old Sanjuana has been labeled a “false claim” to citizenship resulting in a lifetime bar to enter the United States.

Robert A. Perkins, Senior Attorney at “The Immigration Professor”, represents Mrs. Uttecht and her family in immigration court and also in a case filed in federal court involving her release from custody to be with her family and also for violations of the Uttecht family’s constitutional rights.

“Immigration is arguing that mentally disabled people can be ‘cured’ and therefore are not a ‘group’ of people who deserve protection under our asylum laws,” Perkins said. However, Mrs. Uttecht has severe bi-polar disorder and psychosis. She has certainly received help from her family but these are lifelong diseases that can’t be cured. The mentally ill are just as deserving as the physically ill of our protection,” Perkins said. Perkins also commented that detaining Mrs. Uttecht during the course of her proceedings was simply “not the right thing to do. “ “She was nursing her three (3) month old child when they took her”, Perkins said. “This violates a longstanding policy from the central headquarters of immigration in Washington, D.C. against detaining nursing mothers. “ Perkins also stated that Mrs. Uttecht’s medication was taken away from her while she was detained and that her therapist had been denied access to her in order to help treat her.

Ms. Candice Kundert, a Bettendorf Iowa therapist treating Mrs. Uttecht reports that Mrs. Uttecht , who was brought here at age six (6) and has had significant mental disabilities for her entire life, did not know whether she was a citizen or not. “She had no concept of citizenship”, Kundert said. Ms. Kundert also commented that even if Mrs. Uttecht has some responsibility for what happened fourteen years ago, “the punishment has to fit the crime. A permanent bar destroying her family certainly doesn’t”. Ms. Kundert also asserts there is no known cure for mental illness. I am sure that the 57.7 million mentally ill and their families in the United States would love to learn of this "cure" for mental illness the immigration service is talking about. I have been working in the field for over 30 years and would love to know of a cure as well. Mental illness is treatable, but outcomes vary widely depending on a number of factors, such as how much support a mentally ill person has, families, medication compliance and mental health services that are available.”

Thomas Uttecht, Sanjuana’s husband, is a self-employed carpenter who builds custom homes in the Norfolk Nebraska area. His family is of German origin, he doesn’t speak Spanish and has only been to Mexico twice on short trips. “I can’t imagine what we’d do without my wife”, Thomas said. “I have to make a living and I couldn’t support my family down there. I don’t speak the language and neither my wife nor I have any family in Mexico. I don’t understand why immigration wants to deport her. She isn’t hurting anyone.” Thomas is afraid of what would happen to his wife in Mexico, particularly since she has lifelong mental disabilities for which she only recently received treatment. “We have been helping her up here with doctors, treatment and family support“, he said. However, her mental disability exposes her to danger in Mexico from its citizens and the authorities. “She is very a vulnerable person”, Mr. Uttecht said, “and could easily be taken advantage of down there. That’s what happened to her on during her only experience in Mexico (she grew up here) and we are terrified it would happen to her again now when conditions are so much worse.”

Velta Uttecht, Thomas Uttecht’s mother, who is sixty seven (67) years old, has been forced to take care of the five children on her own. “I am at my wits end”, she said. “I am not sure how much longer I can do this. I hope the judge grants mercy and releases my daughter-in-law. The kids ask for her every day.” Her husband Stanley Uttecht, sixty eight (68), wholeheartedly agreed. “After seven months in immigration detention, my daughter-in-law has suffered enough,” he said.

Mr. Perkins stated that ICE has threatened to detain Mrs. Uttecht even if she wins her hearing and if she loses has threatened to detain her during any appeals. “I don’t understand this type of policy”, he said. “It seems to be simple cruelty.
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