There are new developments tonight in the case of an undocumented Bakersfield College student detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement for more than two weeks.
It’s not up for dispute that Jose Bello is undocumented-so legally ICE of course has the right to detain him. But the issue is this: after ICE detained Bello they released a statement saying he was a local gang member with criminal convictions of violent nature. But ICE won’t provide how they know that.
Both ICE and Bello’s attorneys have spoken with us several times, but neither side has provided any documentation that can substantiate information.
“The indictment from ICE now registered with the court simply says the Jose Bello is in the country having entered at an unknown place at an unknown time and he entered without authorization,” says Win Eaton, Bello’s attorney.
Eaton says that statement is significant because if Bello was a gang member with criminal convictions like ICE has stated-that information would be included on the notice to appear.
We asked ICE about this, and they won’t comment.
But they did issue this statement: “ICE has reverified through multiple databases that the information initially provided about Jose Bello-Reyes is accurate. ICE has not been presented any other substantiated evidence to suggest the information is incorrect.”
When we asked both Eaton and ICE to see the charging documents, both said legally-they can’t show them to us.
Adding to the difficulty of verifying information, a lack of records on both sides verifying a birth date. Bello’s family says he was born in 1997. While no one with the name Jose Bello with his birth year has any criminal convictions in Kern County-and has had no contact with Bakersfield Police, there is another Jose Bello locally. “I can tell you there are two separate distinctly different Jose Bello, we pulled the criminal records and we know the charges that were alleged in the press release were very similar to Jose who was born in 1994,” said Eaton.
ICE wouldn’t comment on this case specifically, but they say in general they search criminal databases using fingerprints, so mixing anyone up would be impossible. So does Jose Bello have a violent criminal record as a juvenile, which would be why it’s not public?
ICE won’t say.
Bello’s attorney says he doesn’t know, but he’s working on getting them if they exist.
We asked Eaton if Bello has told him whether or not he has a juvenile record, in other words, if Eaton expects to find anything. He declined to answer. He did say, even if Bello does have any juvenile convictions, they’re irrelevant because legally they can’t be used against him.
We tried to speak with the one person who legally can give us access to all the information we seek, Jose Bello himself. We were told Bello didn’t have visitation today, but we’re working with ICE to set up an interview.
Bello’s attorney also tells us that Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris and Congressman David Valadao are looking into this case. We’ve reached out to their offices, but only heard back from a Congressman Valadao’s office, stating they cannot comment on ongoing investigations.