One of the judges responsible for deciding whether Arizona will be allowed to enforce its own immigration laws was nearly deported while at college.
In 2007, Carlos Bea recounted to fellow judges how he was almost deported for a mistake he made while applying for a visa when visiting Spain. The mistake resulted in a hearing officer declaring that he had fled the U.S. to avoid the draft. Luckily, Bea was able to get the Board of Immigration Appeals to overturn the rule.
“Only later, when I started handling a few immigration cases, did I realize how unusual…this appellate finding [was],” Bea said.
In 1939, Bea’s family fled Spain in anticipation of a German invasion. Before arriving California, his family went to Cuba.
Once in California, Bea became a resident alien in 1952. While playing sophomore basketball at Stanford that same year, he made the Cuban Olympic team, and left for Havana without a re-entry permit, because he was sure he could get a resident visa upon his return. He had previously done the same on his trips to Cuba. After the Olympic games in Finland, he held off returning to the U.S. to play basketball in Europe for a year.
When he returned to finish his schooling at Stanford, Bea was given a student visa and did not realize until two years later that it was a non-resident visa. He was informed of the difference when he attempted to gain U.S. citizenship. His ensuing case files, in which he stated he wished to stay in the U.S., alerted the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
A hearing officer eventually found him to have “voluntarily abandoned residency” to avoid being drafted and he was to be deported, though an appeals board later overturned that ruling and he was allowed to stay.
Bea is now the latest of three judges appointed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that, Monday, will be hearing the case to determine whether U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton was incorrect in granting an injunction against enforcing key portions of the law, widely known as SB 1070.