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Jail squatter seeks immigration papers

Nov. 29, 2012 at 2:42 PM

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., Nov. 29 (UPI) -- A legal immigrant from Togo has been arrested 17 times in the past three years in Arizona, mostly for refusing to leave a county's jail lobby, authorities say.

Martin Kombate's most recent stay began in October.

"To stay in jail like this is extremely unusual," Coconino County Sheriff's Office Lt. Bill Glenn, who oversees jail housing, told the Arizona Daily Sun.

While the arrests began in 2009, most have occurred since January when Kombate's immigration papers apparently disappeared. Sheriff Bill Pribil says the jail's records show Kombate was given all his property. But Kombate keeps returning to the jail and won't accept other efforts to have his papers replaced. When not in jail, he has been known to sleep in city parks Authorities suspect he may have mental issues.

"He's been camped out in our jail lobby. He'll go out for lunch and come back and watch TV," Pribil said.

"It's highly frustrating. We're trying to do the right thing."

Kombate, 45, arrived in the United States in 2003, first settling in Seattle where he stayed with friends until eventually moving to Flagstaff.

Pribil expressed frustration in getting help from the federal government in trying to resolve the situation. Federal officials have declined to get involved, he said.

"It's like the feds have just washed their hands and said it's a local issue. It's absurd," Pribil said. "We're sending illegal immigrants back to Mexico who are working hard and paying taxes and yet there's this man who is a huge burden."

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