A judge in Pennsylvania called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on a couple she was scheduled to marry because the groom was of Latin American descent.
Alexander Parker and Krisha Schmick happily arrived at the tiny, red-bricked courthouse in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania early last year. High school sweethearts, the couple was more than excited and looking forward to a traditional exchange of vows down at the unassuming and minuscule municipal building.
“We talked back in high school about getting married and finally we were going to do it. We were all dressed up and everything,” Schmick told Newsweek.
The young couple’s happiness was exceptionally short-lived, however, and what happened next was clearly not part of any known wedding tradition.
After paying a $45 fee and handing over the required documents, courtroom staff huddled for some fifteen minutes as they tried to make sense of Parker’s Guatemalan identification card. Parker was born in Guatemala but was adopted and brought to the United States when he was eight-months-old. He said:
I didn’t have my Green Card yet, so I gave them the I.D. I had been given and they took it back to the judge and next thing I know a constable is coming out and telling me he needs to detain me because the I.D. didn’t look real. I tried to tell them it wasn’t fake and that it was issued from the Guatemalan Consulate but they wouldn’t believe me and told me I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere or leave the building until I could show proof.
Fearing the worst, the 23-year-old Schmick dashed back to the couple’s home to get paperwork that proved her groom-to-be was a legal resident of the United States. While Schmick was gone, Judge Elizabeth Beckley denounced Parker and his paperwork mishap to ICE agents–who quickly arrived in order to arrest him.
According to an earlier report by ProPublica, “ICE backed off,” but not before Parker was forced to insert his finger into ICE’s biometric identification machine–against his will. While being accosted by ICE’s black shirts, Parker said the agents told him he might end up spending his wedding night in a nearby immigrant detention center instead of celebrating his marriage.
That didn’t happen. Reluctantly–after having already paid for their marriage certificate–Alexander and Schmick agreed to let Judge Beckley officiate. The couple was married and they celebrated at a steakhouse afterwards.
“At the end of the day, I was happy we were married, but it never should have happened the way it did,” Schmick said. “We were trying literally just to get married and they brought in the ICE agents.”
And this wasn’t Beckley’s first time calling ICE on a couple due to be married before her. As noted by America’s Voice blogger Van Le:
[A] lawyer told Krishna [sic] that Beckley had called enforcement agents on at least one other couple who had come to the judge to be married. And whereas the misunderstanding with Alex was eventually cleared up, this other couple was not so lucky, and the groom and his best man were ultimately led away in handcuffs.
Law&Crime reached out to Beckley for comment, but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.
[image via John Moore/Getty Images]