GRASS VALLEY, Calif. — YubaNet founder Pascale Fusshoeller, who has been facing deportation since she was arrested by a California Highway Patrol officer Oct. 8, has been released from custody.
“Boy — we’re so grateful for the decision,” said a jubilant Susan Levitz, Fusshoeller’s partner, Tuesday afternoon on the road from Sacramento, where Fusshoeller was being held by immigration authorities. “We’re on our way home.”
Fusshoeller, a native of Luxembourg, was pulled over for running a stop sign; she did not have a driver’s license or any ID on her and provided a false identity.
That’s because Fusshoeller overstayed her visa almost 15 years ago so she could stay with Levitz. The two married in July and had been in the process of getting their paperwork together to get Fusshoeller her green card, Levitz said.
Fusshoeller tried to pass herself off as Levitz during the traffic stop, hoping they’d just write a ticket and she could be on her way — but she wound up under arrest and was reported to immigration, Levitz said.
She was booked into the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility on suspicion of felony false impersonation of another, as well as misdemeanor charges of giving false information to a peace officer, obstruction and driving without a license.
The county jail released its hold on her after 48 hours because the District Attorney’s Office had not filed any charges, paving the way for Immigration Customs Enforcement officials to pick Fusshoeller up Friday morning.
Fusshoeller had signed a deportation order to remove her from the country and to send her to Luxembourg with no possibility of applying to return for 10 years, Levitz said. Her attorneys moved into high gear and filed a motion to stay the deportation order in the Ninth Circuit of Appeals Tuesday.
Levitz said she does not know at this point what led to Fusshoeller’s release.
“Pascale is exhausted,” she said. “All she wants to do is just go home.”
Fusshoeller told Levitz the ICE officials were polite and professional — but that conditions in Sacramento County Jail were “horrendous.”
“It’s beyond the pale what she has been through,” Levitz said. “She (was) cold the whole time she had been in detention. She pretty much was in solitary confinement, with just the bare necessities.”
Levitz said the couple’s initial plans center on spending some time together, but that Fusshoeller intends to speak out about the situation that led to her incarceration.
“What’s most important is that we get her feeling OK,” Levitz said. “She needs a time-out.”
She added they both wanted to acknowledge the people who “worked so hard for her release ... We thank them for the massive outpouring of support.”
— Liz Kellar is city editor for The Union, the Sun’s sister paper in Grass Valley.