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FaceTiming With Deported Mom Is The Only Bright Side For Kansas City Teen

Andrea Tudhope
KCUR 89.3
Jennifer Uscanga connects with her mom, Leticia Stegall, via FaceTime during a rally outside of the Blue Line hockey bar where Stegall worked. Stegall was deported by ICE officials last Friday.

More than a hundred people rallied at the Blue Line hockey bar Monday night to show their support for long-time manager Leticia Stegall, who was detained and promptly deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials last week.

Sixteen-year-old Jennifer Uscanga was in class at Liberty High School on Monday, February 26 when her Mexican-born mom was detained and taken to the Platte County Jail. She didn't get a chance to say goodbye before they deported her mom five days later.

"I'm angry. Had we known she had to go, we would have sent her," Uscanga says. "If we want to make anything good out of this, it's that now I can call her. I can FaceTime her, but she's still not here."

The deportation also came as a surprise to Stegall's husband, Steve Stegall, who had obtained a writ of habeas corpus from a federal judge ordering that Leticia be held in Missouri until March 12.

According to a written statement from ICE, they received the writ while her deportation was already in process, and now that Stegall is in Mexico, it is no longer applicable. 

Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
A crowd rallied Monday night in support of Leticia 'Letty' Stegall, long-time manager of the Blue Line bar who was deported last Friday.

Leticia, who illegally crossed the Mexican border 20 years ago, is just one of 20 area immigrants arrested last week as part of a four-day ICE operation targeting "criminal aliens."

"You know they're using those words for a specific image that they want to draw," says local immigration attorney Rekha Sharma-Crawford.

She says that simple misdemeanors, like driving without a license, are considered criminal activity by ICE. Leticia was arrested for driving under the influence in Overland Park, Kansas in 2012. 

According to ICE, Leticia received a final order of removal from a federal immigration judge in 2016. But Steve maintains that had they known she needed to leave, they would have sent her voluntarily.

"But to be shackled up, Con Air style, brought back to Mexico ... It didn't need to be like that," he says.

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @_tudhope, and email her at andreat@kcur.org.

Andrea Tudhope is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Kansas City, Missouri. She is currently coordinating producer for America Amplified, a national public media community engagement initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 
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