Scottsdale family caught in immigration battle after ICE arrest

Posted at 4:17 PM, Dec 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-27 07:43:11-05

The immigration battle came right to the doorstep of a Scottsdale couple, after a recent arrest made by the ICE fugitive arrest team.

ICE officials said Stuart Bailey was considered a priority for deportation for over-staying his visa and for two DUI arrests on his record; one of them was an extreme DUI.

Where ICE officials saw a priority for deportation, those who knew and loved Stuart Bailey saw a husband, father and philanthropist. Bailey was the owner of Pane-E-Vino Italian restaurant in Scottsdale. His wife, Gillian Bailey, reached out to ABC15 after his arrest and wanted to share his side of the story.

Gillian said she had met her husband at the restaurant 20 years ago while working there. 

She was a U.S. citizen. He was from the U.K and had lived in the United States for more than 30 years. Bailey said her husband never applied for citizenship due to "bad advice" they had received from an immigration attorney, who cautioned him to "lay low" because he had over-stayed his visa.

Stuart had also been arrested for two DUIs.

His wife said one of them was seven years ago and the other four years ago.

"Both those DUI's he paid his dues. Did whatever he had to do, paid his fines, attended all the classes, even did time in tent city.  He hasn't touched a drop of alcohol since his last DUI," Gilian said.

The ICE fugitive arrest team is responsible for arresting illegal immigrants with criminal convictions in the United States. ICE officials said both over-staying his visa and the DUIs on his record made Stuart a priority for deportation.

"DUI is one of our highest priorities," said Enrique Lucero the ICE field office director for Phoenix. "DUI's have caused massive amount of fatalities on our roadways across the nation, and we're trying to protect the public."

Gillian said her husband had made a mistake, but he was not a criminal. She described him as a very kind and giving man, who was a pillar of support in his community.

"We feed the homeless every Sunday, many of them are veterans," Gillian said. "He has raised hundreds of dollars for the Wounded Warriors project, he's raised money for Bikers against Bullies, he's adopted many abused dogs."

Now, having to visit him at the immigration detention facility in Eloy was the toughest thing that the family has recently experienced.

"He tells me he feels dehumanized. I wouldn't wish it upon anybody," she said.

She said while she understood why ICE officials considered DUIs a priority — she wished they had just  called him up and asked him to come down to their office instead of taking him into custody.

"I can definitely understand that, but I really wish the immigration department would look at each person's story.  Not just my husband but each person's story," Gillian explained.

She said being sent back to England would be devastating for the whole family.

"He would be like a stranger going back to the U.K with nothing. Our family has been ripped apart," she said.

She was writing letters to every local congressman, senator, the Governor's office, and even to the White House several times a day, but said she had no idea when her husband would be put on a flight to England.

"Every second is a fearful second. They could put him on a plane right now as we speak," she said.

She said she would continue advocating for her husband and fight for his return to the United States, even if she had to do it from a separate continent.

"I'm not giving up. I started fighting since the day my doorbell rang and I'm not giving up," Gillian said.