The West New York woman who pleaded guilty to throwing two of her newborn infants down the air shaft of her building on separate occasions is now in the custody of immigration officials awaiting a deportation hearing. But questions remain.
Lucila Rubidia Ventura Martinez, 22, was recently released from jail after completing a four year sentence for aggravated assault and manslaughter. In 2007, police found that Ventura had given birth to an infant in her bathroom and allegedly threw him out of the building. Though the child, a boy later named David, survived, the remains of another infant were found near the area. The remains were said to be those of a newborn baby girl whom Martinez had also given birth to in her bathroom in 2005.
“The alien may seek representation at his or her own expense.” – Elain Komis
Martinez pleaded guilty and was originally sentenced to five years in prison. But due to mitigating factors including Martinez’s below average IQ, past history of being sexually assaulted as a minor, and depression, her sentence was reduced to four years.
She was released from Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for women in Clinton, N.J. on Oct. 22 and into the custody of immigrations and customs enforcement officials.
On Nov. 18, Martinez was scheduled to go before a judge in immigration court in Newark to face the two charges that could potentially lead to deportation.
“It’s a master calendar hearing, the first hearing before a judge,” said Elaine Komis, a representative of the Executive Office of Immigration Review in Washington, D.C.
Komis said that generally, the first hearing is to discuss the charges of a detainee and issues of representation of the detainee.
Martinez’s charging document includes one count of committing a crime of moral turpitude and one count of being convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude. According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, those are reasons for deportation.
Relief of removal
Komis said Martinez can request a relief from removal when she attends the hearing before a judge. She said Martinez can bring her attorney if she can afford one. “The alien may seek representation at his or her own expense,” said Komis.
If Martinez can not afford an attorney, she will be given a list of pro-bono attorneys who advocate on behalf of immigration detainees. The list contains 11 pro-bono agencies.
If Martinez cannot find someone from the list, she will have to represent herself. Asked if there were any precautions taken when it was determined that a detainee is known to have a below average IQ and history of mental illness, Komis answered that generally a judge makes sure the person is competent. In cases were the detainee is found not be mentally competent, the judge follows procedure according to the laws which indicate that a representative of the detainee such as a family member or friend may speak on their behalf. If a representative can not be found, then “the custodian of the respondent shall be requested to appear.”
Harold Ort, representative for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Newark, was unable to say how much time would pass before a decision was made.
Ort also did not respond to questions about whether Martinez would receive assistance in locating her family once she is returned to her native El Salvador, since was brought to the U.S. when she was a minor.
Melissa Rappaport may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org