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Migrant Center Resident Charged With Sexual Assault of 12-Year-Old Manchester Girl

A migrant center resident who allegedly molested a 12-year-old Manchester girl had recently finished his probation on a federal identity theft conviction.

Angel M. Rivera-Laureano, 59, was arrested last month at the migrant shelter in Chelmsford, Mass., on the Manchester warrant, according to court records obtained by the Maine Wire. But Rivera-Laureano’s known criminal history goes back to at least 2012, when he was caught cashing counterfeit IRS checks in the Queen City, according to court records.

The Maine Wire quotes a “law enforcement source with knowledge of the case” that Rivera-Laureano is a suspected illegal immigrant using different names and identities since coming to the U.S.

“The source said Jan. 1 is a birthday frequently used for illegal aliens living under assumed identities and that law enforcement isn’t even certain Rivera-Laureano is his real name,” the Maine Wire reported.

Rivera-Laureano’s story adds to the drumbeat of crime news involving migrants. On Monday, two New York City police officers were wounded in a shootout with a Venezuelan man who was in the country illegally. 

According to the New York Post, a judge closed the immigration case against alleged shooter Bernardo Castro Mata, 19 on May 6. Mata illegally crossed the border into Eagle Pass, Texas, where he was caught and arrested but later released in July 2023, according to the report.

President Joe Biden is finally bowing to pressure on the border. On Tuesday, he announced an executive order closing down ports of entry to those seeking asylum. But Biden’s move after years of stalling is not enough, says Republican gubernatorial candidate Kelly Ayotte.

“Joe Biden’s open-border policies have allowed millions of unvetted illegal immigrants into our nation and made our country less safe. Biden’s political move today is too little too late and does not do enough to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into our country” Ayotte said.

Ayotte, a former U.S. senator, is facing former state Senate President Chuck Morse in the GOP primary for governor.

“This horrific example illustrates how weak border policies make every state a border state, inviting drugs, crime, and gang activity to New England,” Morse said. “Candidates like Kelly Ayotte, who voted to give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, are no better than Joe Biden and can’t be trusted to suddenly grow a backbone on this issue. As governor, I will always protect New Hampshire families and will not back down from maintaining strong stances on immigration.”

The Ayotte campaign pushed back against Morse’s claim.

“Kelly Ayotte has never and will never support amnesty. Chuck Morse can’t rewrite history — he killed the sanctuary city ban and didn’t use E-Verify at his own company,” said spokesperson John Corbett.

Neither of the two major Democratic candidates for governor, former Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig or Executive Councilor Cindy Warmington, responded to a request for comment. Craig’s previously expressed openness to so-called sanctuary cities. Warmington has said that while she’s not a fan, she would not seek to ban them. Ayotte said Craig and Warmington are not going to protect Granite Staters.

“Joyce Craig and Cinde Warmington support [Biden’s] disastrous policies and would turn New Hampshire into a sanctuary state. As Governor, I’ll never allow that to happen, and I will work every day to protect Granite Staters.”

U.S. Marshals caught Rivera-Laureano at a taxpayer-funded shelter operated by the state of Massachusetts, according to the Maine Wire. The converted Best Western hotel is now a shelter for illegal aliens or homeless U.S. citizens. Why Rivera-Laureano was living at the shelter is unknown. Court records list two addresses, the shelter and a home in Chelmsford, Mass. 

Rivera-Laureano was sentenced to three years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to several counts including aggravated identity theft and fraud in 2013. He reportedly had fake drivers licenses made for an accomplice he recruited in New York, and the pair went north to cash the fake IRS checks in Manchester where they were caught.

Rivera-Laureano’s exact immigration status isn’t clear from available court records. His plea agreement and sentencing memorandum do not reference his immigration status being put at risk for the plea. There is a note in the sentencing order written by Judge Joseph Laplante recommending that Rivera-Laureano be allowed to serve his incarceration as close to Manchester as possible.

After his release in 2016, Rivera-Laureano was ordered to be on supervised probation for another three years, according to the sentencing order. That means Rivera-Laureano was free and clear as of spring 2019.

Rivera-Laureano came to live with an aunt in New York at age 16 after suffering abuse from his heroin-addict mother and her family, according to his sentencing memo. His father had abandoned the family when he was a small child, the memo states.

“It is clear that the defendant experienced a deeply deprived upbringing which left him unprepared for adulthood, the ramifications of which continue to this day,” the memo states.

Rivera-Laureano’s now being held without bail at Valley Street Jail in Manchester. He’s due in court for an arraignment in July. 

Hiding in Plain Sight: Mass Murderer Illegal Alien Worked as Roofer in NH

The illegal immigrant convicted of murdering 11 people in the infamous 2015 Curio Massacre in Brazil lived as an average Granite Stater when he was arrested at his roofing job in Rye earlier this month.

“He’s somebody who was definitely in hiding. He didn’t want to be found,” said Rye Police Chief Kevin Walsh.

Federal authorities confirmed to NHJournal that Antonio Jose De Abreu Vidal Filho, 29, was in the country illegally at the time of his arrest. The former military police officer entered the country legally when he fled prosecution in his home country but illegally overstayed his visa, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman said.

“Antonio Jose De Abreu Vidal Filho entered the U.S. lawfully in 2019 but did not depart according to the terms of his admittance. He will remain in ICE custody pending a hearing before a federal immigration judge,” the spokesman said.

Meaning he lived illegally in the U.S. for some eight years, even as Brazil’s government was prosecuting him in absentia for a high-profile crime.

Filho was arrested last week by federal agents who had tracked him from Brazil to New Hampshire. Known as Tony Vidal or Tony Filho, he lived in Merrimack and worked as a roofer. 

At the job site in Rye, no one suspected “Tony” was a convicted killer sentenced to 276 years in prison for the torture and murders he committed as a member of the Brazilian military state police.

“We had no clue. The guy seemed like a nice guy, made chit chat,” Sammy Johnson, a carpenter working on the same house as Filho, told Boston’s 25 News.

The morning of the arrest, Johnson was shocked when a flashbang device exploded, and a large truck sped up to the house carrying armed agents who quickly started barking orders. Within moments, they had Filho in custody, Johnson said. Johnson never suspected the roofer was a wanted criminal.

“You have no clue, no clue in this day and age, and how he got into New Hampshire,” Johnson said.

Walsh insisted that although Rye police proactively patrol the wealthy seaside community for traffic violations and speeding, they never had any contact with Filho during the months he worked construction. If Filho was never stopped, it may have been because he was trying to avoid police attention.

“This is a guy who followed every motor vehicle law. This is a guy who did not want to be found,” Walsh said.

What Fihlo’s employer knew about the killer’s identity is another unknown. Employers are supposed to check immigration status for hires, but Walsh said there are many ways around that requirement in the contracting world. He said that many builders tend to look the other way with the tight labor market.

“If a guy shows up on time and does a full day’s work, a lot of places don’t ask many questions,” Walsh said.

New Hampshire Department of Labor Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Ogden said if Filho were working as a subcontractor, a common practice in the building trades, he would not be considered an employee. In that case, contractors are under no obligation to check the immigration status of subcontractors. Despite the apprehension of an illegal worker just days ago, the Department of Labor is not currently investigating the businesses involved in the construction site where Filho was arrested.

Michael Garrity, communications director for the New Hampshire Department of Justice, referred all questions to ICE.

Agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, or ERO, approached Walsh about their planned arrest of Filho before Monday’s raid. The agents had been watching Filho at different locations in the state and determined the safest place to get him was in Rye, Walsh said.

“They felt this was the best location,” Walsh said.

The arrest went down without any incident or violence on Filho’s part, Walsh said.

Agent John Mohan declined to comment on the arrest.

It was unclear how long Filho has been in the Granite State. He reportedly fled Brazil in 2019, taking his family to the United States after deserting his post in the military police. 

According to a statement from ICE, Filho was convicted along with three other military state police officers of 11 murders plus charges of attempted murder and physical and mental torture for his role in the 2015 massacre in the Curio neighborhood in Fortaleza.

El Globo, a Brazilian news outlet, reported the murders had been retaliation for the death of a Brazilian police officer in Fortaleza. Four of the 11 people murdered were teens under the age of 18, and three were between 18 and 19, according to El Globo.

Once he was convicted this summer, Filho became the subject of a Red Notice issued by Interpol, the international police organization that combines the efforts of police in 195 countries around the world. Interpol Red Notices serve as international wanted notices on fugitives who have fled prosecution or escaped from prison.

Gov. Chris Sununu acknowledged that “not all illegal immigrants are mass murderers,” of course. But he said the incident was yet another reminder of the need to step up U.S. border enforcement, including at New Hampshire’s northern border, where illegal crossings have soared by more than 800 percent.

Sununu is imploring the Biden administration and the Democrats in the federal delegation to restore funding for state support of border enforcement stripped after Joe Biden was elected president. In 2018, New Hampshire received nearly $4 million from the Trump administration through Operation Stone Garden to secure the northern border, but those funds were slashed to $180,000 by the Biden administration in 2022 and $200,000 in 2023.

Biden’s cuts to border security go deeper, however. Biden has been steadily cutting funding across the board. The proposed 2024 budget includes another cut to the number of ICE detention facilities even as the number of illegal immigrant apprehensions reaches record highs.

N.H. Dems Call ICE Employees “Gestapo,” Claim They’re Running “Children’s Concentration Camps”

One candidate calls them the “modern-day Gestapo.” Another says they’re running “concentration camps” for children.

Progressive Democrats running to replace Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in New Hampshire’s First Congressional District don’t like the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and they aren’t hiding their disdain. In addition to wanting the abolish the entire department, several of the Democrats in the race compared these American workers and their actions to the worst of Nazi Germany.

“The actions by the Trump administration on immigration and detention are nothing more than racism played out in policy,” congressional candidate and state representative Mindi Messmer told NHJournal.  “It harkens to dark periods in our history like the Japanese internment Camps and the Holocaust. ICE is a gestapo-like arm of the racist policy and should be abolished.”

“There are many ways in which ICE resembles Germany in the 1930s,” former Strafford County Attorney Lincoln Soldati told NHJournal.  When asked if he was calling the agents of ICE “jackboots,” Soldati replied: “I’m not saying that necessarily about the [US Customs and] Border Patrol. ICE is a special unit. They need to look at themselves and what they’re actually doing and how they’re carrying out their duties. The fact is they, they are not operating within the same constitutional constraints that law enforcement in the country typically is required to.”

“So, I never used the word ‘jackboot,’” Soldati said.  “Maybe the modern day Gestapo, how about that?”

Soldati is one of a growing number of Democratic candidates across the country who’s joined the “Abolish ICE” movement. He believes the entire department should be shut down:

“You have to remember ICE was created as part of… an overreaction to the events of 9/11. I mean, a lot of it is psychologically understandable, going off and invading Afghanistan, etc. All because of the emotional baggage left after 9/11,” Soldati said.

Not all the candidates in the First Congressional District agree that ICE should be eliminated.  Maura Sullivan a former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs and senior Pentagon official in the Obama Administration told NHJournal via email:

“There are legitimate purposes for ICE but President Trump has misdirected ICE to tear families apart, which is inconsistent with our nation’s values. I believe Congress needs more oversight of ICE to prevent future misuse of its resources.” Sullivan has also called on Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign.

“Our moral compass is being tested by the President’s inhumane, immoral policies,” Chris Pappas tweeted. “Silence is complicity as our govt tears children from parents who seek asylum and a better future.” However, his campaign declined to comment on the Abolish ICE issue.

“We need some mechanism to remove people who are here illegally,” Deaglan McEachern told NHJournal. “If we abolish ICE, it would be INS. Someone would have to do it.”  McEachern stressed that he opposes the Trump administration’s prioritization of enforcing immigration law, and he wanted to see the US make it far easier for more immigrants to come to the US “and get a path to citizenship.”

“They’re doing the jobs Americans won’t do, or Americans can’t do,” McEachern told NHJournal.

But clearly the passion is with the Abolish ICE activists who are gaining support across the country.  Actress-turned-politician Cynthia Nixon has been vocal in her demand that ICE be shut down, calling it a “terrorist organization,” while in Massachusetts progressive candidate Ayanna Pressley has embraced the movement in her race to unseat longtime Democratic incumbent Michael Capuano.   “ICE’s role in supporting the existing system – including separating families seeking refuge in the United States and conducting indiscriminate deportation raids in our communities – is creating an atmosphere of toxic fear and mistrust in immigrant communities,” Pressley said.

Is attacking ICE employees as Gestapo agents overseeing concentration camps a winning political strategy in a purple state like New Hampshire?  In the primary, perhaps. But with a new CBS/YouGov poll showing Americans overwhelmingly support deporting illegal immigrant families stopped at the border (48 percent) as opposed to releasing them into the US to await a hearing (21 percent).  In other words, as much as Americans may hate how the Trump administration is executing the policy, it’s the policy they support.­

UPDATE: Naomi Andrews, former Shea-Porter Chief of Staff, had declined to join the #AbolishICE movement. In a statement to NHJournal she says:

“While there needs to be big changes at ICE, it should not be abolished, because it is responsible for combatting child pornography; money laundering; terrorism; sex trafficking; and other important investigative functions. However, ICE is in desperate need of intense oversight. Republican leadership in Congress has abdicated their constitutional duty of oversight, but there needs to be accountability when rules and laws are broken. Also, Secretary Nielson should resign if she cannot successfully reunite children and their families quickly and safely.”

New Hampshire Sanctuary Churches, Cities, Colleges Seek to Resist Trump’s Immigration Policies

The St. Anne-St. Augustin Parish, a Manchester Catholic church, is defying the wishes of the state’s Roman Catholic bishop by declaring itself a sanctuary church for undocumented immigrants, following the lead of hundreds of other congregations in the United States that are looking to protect people from President Donald Trump’s beefed up immigration policies.

Bishop Peter Libasci of the Diocese of Manchester sent a letter to clergy earlier this month stating that congregations should not allow undocumented immigrants to be housed within their churches to avoid being deported. The letter came in response to a meeting with several priests who expressed concerns about increased immigration enforcement.

“We have not designated our churches as ‘sanctuary’ churches in this sense of the word because it creates a false hope to tell individuals living in fear that we can protect them from law enforcement actions,” Libasci wrote.

Parents fearing possible deportation have provided notarized instructions to St. Anne-St. Augustin staff, spelling out family finances and who would care for their children in case they are picked up by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.

Eva Castillo, executive director of the New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, said she was not surprised by the Bishop’s letter, but was “disappointed” the Bishop was “quick to dismiss” the idea of sanctuary churches.

“I find it frustrating because I went to the same Catholic school from kindergarten to high school and I always noticed that they were quick throw money, but their equal treatment and welcoming part was not there,” she told NH Journal. “I felt that from way back then. I always say we need to put faith into action and bring it out of the pew.”

Castillo noted that besides St. Anne-St. Augustin, she’s had difficulty working with other Catholic churches in New Hampshire, but there has been interest from other Quaker and Unitarian Universalist congregations about how they could help the cause. On the Seacoast, she’s spoken with members of the United Church of Christ and other Indonesian churches.

“It’s not only giving residence to somebody, she said. “You can just give support to places where people are staying. You could have a rapid response team if ICE is in ‘X, Y’ place and have a group of people there to witness the activity. Not to stop it, but to bear witness of what’s going on.”

The balance between helping those in need and breaking the law has some churches unsure about which action to take. Yet, for Bishop Libasci, he said there are two definitions to the term “sanctuary churches” and parishes should not be letting undocumented immigrants live in their church.

“Some use this term and mean what I have described above — a welcoming community ready to offer immediate aid to anyone in need. In these works, of course, we will always be involved,” he wrote in the letter. “But others use this term ‘sanctuary’ to refer to churches that will allow individuals in fear of deportation to live in the church. ‘Sanctuary’ is not a designation recognized by law and provides no such legal protection.”

By law, places of worship are not allowed to harbor undocumented immigrants, yet more than 800 churches and faith groups nationwide have protested recent actions taken by Trump to curtail illegal immigration to the United States and declared themselves sanctuary churches.

Soon after his inauguration Trump, signed two executive orders temporarily suspending immigration from multiple predominately Muslim countries, but both orders are being held up by federal judges as unconstitutional.

In Denver, Jeanette Vizguerra resides in a makeshift bedroom at the First Unitarian Church because she’s concerned that immigration enforcement agents would arrest her elsewhere. Churches in Chicago and Phoenix have also offered shelter to other undocumented immigrants who are fearful of being deported.

ICE officials with a warrant can arrest undocumented immigrants regardless of whether they’re at a church, synagogue, mosque, or other house of worship. The Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits anyone from knowingly harboring an undocumented immigrant “in any place, including any building,” and those convicted could spend years in prison.

However, ICE generally avoids arrests at “sensitive locations,” like churches, because prosecuting pastors could create unfavorable headlines and result in long legal battles.

While several cities and towns in the United States, including many in New Hampshire, are debating whether or not to become “sanctuary cities” — or places where local law enforcement limit their cooperation with federal officials on immigration enforcement — Castillo said the best chance to help undocumented immigrants is at the church level. She isn’t expecting too many cities or towns to publicly declare themselves as sanctuary cities, due to New Hampshire’s small Latino population.

According to the Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends, the Latino community comprised 3 percent of the state’s population in 2014, although that number is growing in size.

Three small Granite State towns — Harrisville, Dublin, and Lyme — voted at town meetings last month to declare themselves as “sanctuary towns.” However, bigger areas like Durham, home to the University of New Hampshire, and Portsmouth failed to pass similar measures. Students at Dartmouth College in Hanover passed around a petition after the November election seeking for the university to declare itself a “sanctuary school.”

Castillo remains hopeful that the Bishop changes his mind and allows Catholic churches to become safe havens for undocumented immigrants. She said she is in the process of scheduling a meeting with him soon.

“We realize that this is a big commitment on the immigrants and the people to house them,” she said. “It is really civil disobedience. That’s what we tell them. We aren’t disguising the whole notion. We aren’t advocating for one thing over another. They can all do their own part in what they are most comfortable doing.”

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