Freelance photographer Geraldo Carlos was taking photos of a garbage-strewn Newark alley for a newspaper story about illegal dumping when something far more disturbing caught his eye: a woman’s body in a plastic bag, says the Newark Star-Ledger. Carlos called his editor, Roberto Lima, editor of the Brazilian Voice newspaper. The two went to a police station, then led officers back to the scene, where a homicide investigation began.
Instead of receiving thanks for the tip, both journalists say they were shocked by one of the first questions police asked Carlos at the crime scene. “Do you have a green card?” the journalists say Carlos was asked by Newark police Deputy Chief Samuel Demaio. “Are you here legally?” Carlos told police his visa had expired and officers confiscated his camera. Later, when Lima went to the police station to object to the demand that the newspaper turn over all of the photos Carlos had taken, the 44-year-old newspaper editor said he was handcuffed to a bench and briefly detained. The incident has brought into focus a widespread fear in the immigrant community about reporting crimes for fear of being questioned about immigration status. Those fears have been exacerbated by a new directive issued last month by the New Jersey attorney general that orders police to inquire about immigration status of people arrested for serious crimes.