Undocumented Israeli might return to California, despite looming deportation


Immigration authorities won’t be deporting Israeli Adi Zinder of Woodland Hills just yet.

Zinder has been residing illegally in the United States since the age of 10 and last week, he was almost deported back to Israel before a last minute request from his lawyer stopped the deportation process.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began the process of deporting Zinder last week, moving him from Mira Loma Detention Center in W. Lancaster, CA to a processing center in El Paso, Texas, preparing for his removal out of the country aboard an ICE charter flight. ICE’s made the decision to deport Zinder after receiving a travel document from the Israeli government last November. The document allows for the admissibility of Zinder, who is 32-years-old and worked around Los Angeles as a truck driver, back into Israel.

The latest update about Zinder – provided to the Journal via email by an ICE spokesperson around 2:30 p.m. on Monday – is that he is returning to California. Late last Friday, ICE granted Zinder a stay of removal, a request that “prevents the Department of Homeland Security from executing an order of removal, deportation, or exclusion” of aliens, according to ICE spokesperson Virgina Kice. Zinder’s lawyer requested the stay of removal.

The stay of removal was granted in the nick of time, approved the week that ICE moved Zinder to El Paso, Texas, with the intention of deporting him.

The stay of removal will keep Zinder in the U.S. for six months, Kice said. His fate afterwards is unknown. Meanwhile, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will review Zinder’s petition for a green card, which Zinder filed on the basis that he has an immediate relative (his wife) who is an American citizen.

For now, Zinder will remain in custody while USCIS reviews his petition for a green card. However, his sister-in-law, in an interview with the Journal, mentioned the possibility of the family posting bail to free him.

For more than a year, Zinder was in custody at Mira Loma, a detention center under contact by ICE that holds illegal immigrants until their cases are resolved.

ICE arrested Zinder in September 2010. Officers came for him in the middle of the night, relying on the element of surprise to ensure his cooperation, said his sister-in-law, Carolina Landazuri.

Read previous post below for insight on how the story has developed.


Yesterday, Israeli native Adi Zinder, 32, who has been living in the U.S. illegally since the age of 10, was possibly on his way to being deported (read my story here, and the L.A. Weekly story here).

Today, his family received word that his

longtime pending petition for legal residency was approved

and that he will return to California. This breakthrough follows his recent removal to a holding facility in El Paso, Texas. [CORRECTION, DEC. 12, 10:36 A.M.]: Zinder’s lawyer filed a stay of removal, effectively halting the deportation, and ICE is currently reviewing the stay of removal request while keeping Zinder in custody in the United States. His petition for legal residency is also under review by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). ICE and USCIS are Department of Homeland Security agencies.

Zinder, who is married to an American woman, isn’t coming home yet –

his next stop will be a detention facility in California

. A detention facility in W. Lancaster, CA holding him since he was taken from his house in Woodland Hills by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. [CORRECTION, DEC. 12, 10:48 A.M.] Zinder will remain in ICE custody for the time being. ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice declined to disclose Zinder’s current location, speaking to the Journal Monday morning.

[UPDATE: DEC. 12, 10:53 A.M.] Zinder’s family offered details about Zinder’s future. He will be returned to the Mira Loma Detention Facility in W. Lancaster, CA, where he will begin the process of applying for his green card, his sister-in-law, Carolina Landazuri said. He will be fingerprinted for at least the second time, she said.

Landazuri said she felt “a nervous happiness” upon learning that Zinder’s lawyers’ stay of removal request stopped Linder’s deportation.

“We won’t be completely comfortable until he’s not in a detention center and he’s back home with his family,” she said.

Zinder was living in Woodland Hills before U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided his home last fall and took him into custody. Zinder is in custody in an El Paso Processing Center, according to the ICE website. ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley could not confirm if Zinder was being returned to California.

On the night of Sept. 24, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officers (ICE) took Zinder from his Woodland Hills home, Landazuri said. From then until last week, Zinder was held in Mira Loma and moved twice to a detention facility in downtown Los Angeles, she said.

Zinder took a long time to apply for legal residency because he figured that since he was married, it wasn’t so urgent, Landazuri said. Zinder works professionally as a truck driver.

On Tuesday of this week, ICE transported Zinder to El Paso, Landazuri said, and he was en route to New Orleans when his petition was approved. As of the publication of this article, the ICE website confirms that Zinder is in custody at an El Paso processing center.

The Journal was unable to confirm with ICE that Zinder was in the midst of being relocated to New Orleans when his petition for legal status was approved, nor would they confirm that he is coming back to California. ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley declined to comment on the specifics of Zinder’s case, citing her agency’s policy to not provide details about individual cases. However, there is a possibility the agency will release an official statement about Zinder, Haley said.

L.A. Weekly broke the story about Zinder yesterday, after Zinder’s family took the advice of an immigration advocacy group and went to L.A. Weekly yesterday to bring more exposure to Zinder’s situation. Landazuri says she believes there’s a connection between L.A. Weekly running the story, which you can read here, and Zinder’s petition getting approved.

Landazuri, who is married to Zinder’s brother, has been receiving updates about her brother via his immigration lawyer, who the family obtained for Ziner the day after he was taken by ICE. She declined to provide the lawyer’s name. Landazuri has been speaking on behalf of Zinder’s family – his mother, nieces and nephews and his brother – to media and respective agencies that have interest in Zinder’s case.

ICE is trying to return Zinder to Mira Loma by early next week, Landazuri said.