Planned Fundraiser Co-host Fights Deportation
Only in Miami!
The GOP was scheduled to hold a fundraiser at the home of a woman who is fighting possible deportation.
BY LESLEY CLARK c. 2006
WASHINGTON -- Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who backs stricter controls on illegal immigration, was to raise money Monday in Miami at the home of a Peruvian woman who pleaded guilty a decade ago to passport fraud and is fighting for the right to stay in the country.
The fundraiser for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which Ensign chairs, comes at a time when undocumented immigrants across the country live in fear of what they say are stepped-up orders to deport those here illegally.
The hostess of the Coral Gables reception aimed at bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the GOP: Eve Rosen, who is awaiting an immigration judge's ruling as to whether the mother of two and wife of Wayne Rosen, a prominent Miami developer, can remain in the United States, where she has lived for more than a decade.
The Rosens declined to comment for this story. A spokeswoman for Ensign said Monday the committee was unaware of Eve Rosen's status and was ``looking at it now.''
The committee, which listed both Rosens as hosts of the event, noted that Wayne Rosen is a ''known donor to numerous federal candidates -- both Republican and Democrat.'' And a spokeswoman said that if ``there turns out to be any activity that is anything but above board, we will react accordingly.''
Spokeswoman Rebecca Fisher said the committee in the past has contributed to charitable groups when ``a situation was brought to our attention that gave the perception of impropriety.''
And she said Ensign, who last year criticized a proposal to give undocumented immigrants a chance at citizenship as ''amnesty,'' has ``a long history of being very clear of his position on immigration and that has not changed.''
Democrats, though, scoffed at the event.
''We appreciate Sen. Ensign's attempts to emphasize the hard work undocumented aliens do in America, like throwing fundraisers for the GOP,'' Miami-Dade Democratic Party chairman Joe Garcia said.
Court records suggest that Eve Rosen's troubles began as a teenager when the then-Evelyn Runciman met Jose M. Battle Sr., who in 2004 was indicted as the elderly boss of ''The Corporation,'' a Cuban-American crime syndicate that in the 1980s stretched from Florida to New York to Latin America.
Runciman, who court documents show is 32, was a teenager when she met the elderly Battle in Peru in the 1990s and married him. They later moved to Miami. In 2004, Runciman was one of 25 people federal prosecutors charged as participants in the so-called Cuban Mafia.
A TEEN BRIDE
Her criminal defense lawyer, however, portrayed her as a teenage bride who knew absolutely nothing about Battle. The racketeering conspiracy charge against her was dropped in May 2006, halfway through the trial, only after Battle agreed to plead guilty.
She had already pleaded guilty in 1997 to passport fraud, a charge that apparently triggered the push to deport her. According to federal court records, in February 1995 she presented to immigration officials a U.S. passport doctored with her picture. Her defense lawyer said Battle, also carrying a fake passport, ``insisted that she use one as well.''
Deportation proceedings were begun in 1996.
Runciman, who was married to Battle for what her lawyer said was less than five years, has since married Wayne Rosen, who has given more than $225,000 to the Republican Party and GOP candidates since 2004. In 2004, with Runciman still under indictment, the couple asked the federal court for permission to travel to New York City to attend the Republican National Convention. Rosen has also given more than $10,000 to Democrats, including Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
Runciman's former criminal attorney, Neal Sonnett, said any suggestion that Rosen is using political connections to help his wife is entirely without merit.
''He's a law-abiding citizen and I hope she prevails in the immigration case,'' Sonnett said. ``The result if she doesn't is she gets deported and a very lovely and contributing family is split up. That's the epitome of injustice as far as I'm concerned.''
Elaine Komis, a spokesman with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, an arm of the Justice Department, which conducts immigration trials, said Runciman's last hearing was in January and the judge has yet to rule.