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Judge will allow testimony of CBP officers in trial of overstaying alien

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IN the case against Xinzhou Ren, an overstaying alien, District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has ruled that the testimony of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents who interacted with alien passengers such as the defendant is admissible for trial under Federal Rules of Evidence 406.

The judge said, based on the facts of the case, the interpreter’s statements are also admissible as a statement that Ren himself made to CBP officers.

Ren, an overstaying tourist from China, has been charged with making a false statement to a federal agency and with improper entry into the United States by false statement.

These charges stem from the statements he allegedly made to CBP at the Saipan airport on May 4, 2018.

The U.S. government alleges that Ren misrepresented to CBP that he was visiting the CNMI/U.S. as a tourist, when he in fact planned to stay here.

But Ren denies having told the CBP officers that he came to the CNMI/U.S. solely for tourism.

Ren claimed that the exact words he told CBP were: “Was a visitor, used an excuse to escape the country.”

At the Jan. 17 hearing, Ren, who is represented by attorney Robert T. Torres, argued that “because the CBP officers relied on a Mandarin interpreter to question [Ren], the [U.S.] government’s evidence can only prove what the interpreter told the officers. Because that interpreter was provided by Ren’s airline, his or her identity and language proficiency are currently unknown. Without the interpreter’s credentials, Ren asserts, evidence proving only the interpreter’s translation is inadmissible to prove what Ren intended to communicate.”

The U.S. government responded “that this issue goes only to the weight of the evidence, not admissibility.”

The court said it agrees with the U.S. government. “First, Ren’s airline, rather than CBP, provided the interpreter. Second, there is no cause to believe that an airline interpreter had any motive to mislead or distort. Finally, the [U.S] government intends to introduce evidence that, soon after speaking to CBP, Ren marked on a Mandarin-language form that he was traveling for tourism…. This subsequent action, which did not require an interpreter, is consistent with what the [U.S.] government alleges Ren told the officers through his interpreter.”

Ren’s jury trial will start on Feb. 6, 2020 at 1 p.m.

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