Deportation order lifted for Sierra citizen journalist

Liz Kellar
Pascale Fusshoeller is a founder of
John Hart / The Union |

GRASS VALLEY, Calif. — YubaNet founder and editor Pascale Fusshoeller is breathing a huge sigh of relief now that a deportation order seeking her removal from the United States has been canceled.

Fusshoeller, a native of Luxembourg, was nearly deported after an Oct. 8 arrest, when it was discovered she had been living in the United States without an appropriate visa for nearly 15 years.

YubaNet publisher, and Fusshoeller’s partner, Susan Levitz, said she married Fusshoeller in July, and the couple was in the process of getting immigration papers in order when the arrest occurred.

“Well, it’s official. We have confirmation — ICE’s order of removal against me has been canceled,” Fusshoeller wrote late Monday night on her website.

“ICE exercised prosecutorial discretion, and no enforcement action will be taken,” she continued. “In plain English, they chose to see me as a human being, not just a number. This means we can complete the application for a green card for me.

“I find it difficult to adequately express the relief, joy and thankfulness we are feeling right now.”

Fusshoeller was pulled over for running a stop sign by a California Highway Patrol officer. She did not have a driver’s license or any ID on her and provided a false identity — that of Levitz.

Immigration officials picked Fusshoeller up Oct. 11 and temporarily housed her at the Sacramento County Jail, then released her on her own recognizance four days later after busing her to San Francisco and back.

Fusshoeller came to the United States on a visa waiver almost 15 years ago and was supposed to sign a waiver of her rights at that time, including the right to contest her deportation, said her immigration attorney, Jim Byrne. When Fusshoeller was turned over to the ICE officials, she was given an order of removal.

Since her release four weeks ago, Fusshoeller has been in a legal limbo, unsure of whether the government would eventually deport her — an action that would have barred her from the country for at least 10 years.

“I’m probably going to frame the cancellation order,” Fusshoeller joked Tuesday morning.

Fusshoeller was quick to credit community support and media attention for the decision, saying that a thank-you is planned for Jan. 5 at the Miners Foundry.

“I had no idea of the scope (of support),” she said. “When we were driving back from the jail, Susan handed me my iPad, and I started looking at all the messages … I am still utterly and completely overwhelmed.

“I’m not one who is prone to tears,” she continued. “But I cried a lot, during detention and afterward, when I read the messages and listened to my voicemail.”

Fusshoeller still faces local charges. Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell has filed four misdemeanor charges against her — giving a police officer false information, driving a vehicle without a license, driving without insurance and failing to stop at an intersection. She is set for arraignment Monday.

“This is separate from the immigration process, even though the outcome may or may not weigh negatively on my application,” Fusshoeller noted on YubaNet.

Immigration attorney Byrne, meanwhile, is working with Fusshoeller and Levitz on their application for a change in immigration status.

Fusshoeller still seems awe-struck at the wide-ranging support she had received since the news broke of her incarceration.

“I didn’t have a choice of where I was born, but I did have a choice of where to live,” she said. “I think I picked the right community.”

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