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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal

Petition Asks Reps Zoe Lofgren and Luis Gutierrez to Help Stop Another Deportation

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Please sign this petition that asks Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Luis Gutierrez to intervene with ICE and release Darwin to be with his family while USCIS adjudicates his green card application, and share on social media using #FreeDarwin:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement continues its war on Central American refugee kids, and is determined to deport Darwin Mejia even though he has a pending green card application on file based on his Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.

Darwin was born in El Salvador, and was abandoned by his father while his mother was still pregnant with him, and he has never been involved in his life. He was abandoned by his mother as a toddler, and left with his maternal grandmother, who is now elderly and resides in the United States as a lawful permanent resident.

His uncle, Jose, is a U.S. citizen, and has supported Darwin financially since he was abandoned. Darwin fled the violence and death of El Salvador after being threatened by the gangs, risking his life to come to the safe harbor of the United States. Darwin was detained at the U.S.- Mexico border and sent to a detention center in Texas. He was eventually transferred and is currently detained at the LaSalle Detention Center in Jena, Louisiana.

Represented by the law firm of Amoachi & Johnson, Darwin's uncle petitioned for guardianship of Darwin. The Suffolk County family court in New York issued a legal order of guardianship, based on findings that Darwin is a minor (under the age of 21) who is unable to be reunited with his parents due to neglect and abuse and that it is not in his best interests to return to his country. This resulted in Darwin's applications for legal classification as a "Special Immigrant Juvenile" and his pending green card application. Despite this, ICE ERO is determined that it will deport Darwin, and has refused to issue a stay until his green card application can be adjudicated. This has gone all the way ICE HQ, which has ordered that Darwin be deported without allowing his green card application to be adjudicated.

After his attorneys requested review of the denial of a stay of deportation, on April 5, 2016, the retaliation began. Around midnight on Tuesday, April 5, 2016, Darwin was taken to the cell with other detainees who were designated for removal. Darwin reported that one detainee was fighting his case, and that detainee indicated that ICE officials took him to the airport to terrorize him (the detainee told Darwin that he had been taken to the airport 9 times so far).

Darwin also reported extremely cold temperatures and stated that he was shivering even though he had a sweater. He had no bed, no blanket, and they did not turn the lights off. The cell was so small that some people were standing and some lying down, there was not enough space for them all to lie down. The officers indicated to the detainees that they were just "following orders." These conditions, known as "hieleras" have been widely reported on and are the subject of lawsuits against the government.

At around 10:00 a.m., Darwin was taken to airport and waited around for one hour, when he and several others were told that consulate did not issue their travel documents. Most of the group of detainees was deported. Then, ICE officials returned the detainees without travel documents back to the heelers at around noon or 1:00 p.m., where they remained another 8-10 hours. Meanwhile, ICE kept Darwin's attorneys in the dark about his whereabouts and the posture of his case as well, apparently attempting to mislead them into believing that Darwin would be deported despite their knowledge that, in fact, removal would be impossible given that the El Salvadoran consulate did not issue travel documents. ICE ERO HQ affirmed that no stay would be granted thereafter.

Click here to sign the petition.

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Updated 04-12-2016 at 06:05 AM by MKolken

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