Murphy woman arrested in Gilmer faces possible deportation

MURPHY, NC – Kyle Sutton will not stand for his wife being called a criminal, but he faces losing her to deportation if the legal system does not go his family’s way.

Dayana Sutton, 26, of Murphy was detained April 4 on warrants claiming she allegedly falsified immigration paperwork in three Georgia counties.

“People online call my wife a criminal,” Kyle said after the story broke throughout the region and was posted multiple times on social media. “I don’t know why they would say those things because she is an immigrant. She is a human being with feelings.”

The Suttons, along with their four children, were driving through Gilmer County, Ga., when they were pulled over with a tail light out.

Kyle said his plate had been temporarily revoked over a brief lapse in his insurance, which prompted the police to ask for the identification of the other adult passengers, Dayana and another man.

“I don’t think they have the right to ask someone else in the car for their identification unless they have a probable cause,” Kyle said. “We have no criminal records, they were just trying to find something wrong. We were clothes shopping with our kids.”

Dayana told Gilmer County Deputy Austin McArthur her license was suspended, but he still needed to see it, the police report states.

Dispatch 911 advised McArthur about the warrants in Fannin, Newton and Walton, and she was detained with handcuffs but not arrested while dispatch was confirming the warrants. Later, all three counties placed a hold on her.

“There was no explanation by the cops,” Kyle said. “They pulled her out of the car and the kids started screaming, they didn’t know what was going on.”

Kyle said his wife, who graduated from Murphy High School in 2010, had no trouble getting her driver’s license when she initially moved to Cherokee County.

But the problems evidently reached back to when Dayana’s family came over from Cuba almost 20 years ago. Her father evidently did not complete a piece of required paperwork for their proper immigration under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966.


Ran into ‘red tape’

Kyle said his wife reapplied for an I-130 several times but frequently ran into government red tape. Additionally, he said the cost of many of these documents is in the thousands of dollars, which has created financial hardships for them.

“She has never tried to be here illegally,” he said. “We have always tried to get everything in order. She finished high school, she has held jobs. She has been here for almost 20 years and she is raising our children.”

Kyle said it cost him $530 just to fill out paperwork confirming he was an American citizen and was married to Dayana. Other forms cost the family significantly more. The financial struggles also led to the lapse in the car insurance.

“In the time and the moment, our kids needed clothes and we had to choose,” Kyle said. “My car is fully insured now.”

The family moved to the Atlanta area when Kyle got a job there, prompting Dayana’s attempts to get a Georgia driver’s license in the counties that later swore out warrants for her.

In 2015, when the family returned to North Carolina, Dayana was notified of an investigation into her paperwork but stopped receiving calls after a year of questions. She was not notified of any warrants at that time, Kyle said.

A family friend and Dayana’s high school teacher, Karen Moree, told Channel 9 Chattanooga that Dayana did have expired paperwork but says she heard Homeland Security tell her in 2011 that she couldn’t be deported.

“We did a little dance we were so thrilled, we were just so thankful that was not a fear she needed to have,” Moree said.

Kyle is adamant that his wife is not guilty of any crime.

“This is a large misunderstanding,” he said. “This citizenship process has a lot of problems and jurisdictional conflicts. I just don’t want to lose my wife and have my kids lose their mom.”

Dayana has a court date Aug. 14 in Atlanta to determine her fate.

The family has a web- site for anyone wishing to donate to help them out, which can most easily be found by entering “Reunite the Sutton Family” on Google. 

A request for comment was unable to be left on voice mail at the Office of the Chief Counsel of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Atlanta.

Times-Courier news editor Mark Millican contributed to this report.

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