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Man sues, says U.S. backing out of immigration deal that allowed him to stay in the country

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 10. 2017 8:22PM

MANCHESTER — Fifteen years ago, Renato Filippi made a bargain with U.S. immigration officials. He would go undercover to help break up an organized ring of “coyotes,” the human traffickers who led him illegally into the United States. In return, the feds would let him stay here, according to a newly filed lawsuit.

Today, he faces deportation and is suing President Trump and other U.S. officials. His complaint: the federal government backed out on their 15-year-old deal.

Filippi, 58, filed paperwork in U.S. District Court last week, seeking to block his early November deportation to his native Brazil. The Manchester office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ordered his deportation last month.

“He was very useful to them for nine years; a lot of people got convicted because of his work. It all changed under Donald Trump,” said Manchester lawyer George Bruno, an immigration attorney and Democratic activist.

Filippi could be killed if deported, Bruno said.

Through a spokesman, ICE said its policy is not to comment on pending litigation.

“However, lack of comment should not be construed as agreement with or stipulation to any of the allegations,” spokesman Shawn Neudauer said.

The suit names President Trump as the lead defendant. It includes acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, acting ICE Director Thomas Homan and Manchester ICE Supervisor Timothy Stevens.

According to the lawsuit, Filippi was caught almost immediately in 2002 when he entered the United States illegally near Abram, Texas.

Federal officials recruited Filippi, and for 11 months he worked as a secret government informant and intelligence source against the coyotes, according to the lawsuit.

“The Plaintiff agreed and performed the dangerous work requested by the government, including giving testimony leading to convictions,” the suit said. During that time, Filippi and his family, who remained in Brazil, received death threats.

Filippi moved to Manchester in 2003 and was granted work authorization, a social security card and driver’s license. He was ordered to check in regularly with ICE.

According to the lawsuit, he continued to work with federal law enforcement until 2009, assisting the DEA, FBI and foreign intelligence.

The co-counsel in the case, Robert E. McDaniel, said Filippi provided information about ties between Latin American criminal organizations and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.

“He was working pretty hard to make America great again,” said McDaniel, a federal prosecutor during the Reagan years. McDaniel, who practices in Meredith, said most records of Filippi’s work are likely classified, and he will demand access during discovery if the case moves forward.

He said ICE is aware of Filippi on both the regional and national levels and has refused to intervene on his behalf.

According to the suit, the U.S. government allowed Filippi’s wife and daughter to legally join him in 2005. They both received green cards. His daughter became a citizen, earned a degree in criminal justice from the University of Massachusetts, works for U.S. Transportation Security Administration and is weighing a job offer from the Secret Service, McDaniel said.

Filippi works at a self-storage area in the Manchester Millyard, Bruno said. The family has purchased a small house in Manchester, and Filippi has stayed out of trouble, the lawsuit said.

Filippi has never been able to gain permanent legal status, according to the suit. When he checked in with ICE on Sept. 5, he was ordered to leave the United States by Nov. 6.

The filing seeks an injunction so Filippi can pursue action under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act and the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

“Simply put, the United States government cannot induce a person to put his life on the line, encourage him to perform difficult and dangerous tasks, and then callously and inhumanely dispose of him once it has what it wants,” the suit reads.

The day after the lawsuit was filed, District Court Judge Paul J. Barbadoro questioned whether he had jurisdiction over the matter. In an interview, Bruno said ICE believes the Bureau of Immigration Appeals, an administrative law panel, has jurisdiction. But that process is so backed up that Filippi would be deported before his case can be heard.

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