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Community Rallies Behind Young Man Detained By ICE Just Before High School Graduation

One teen was about to start getting ready for his senior prom. It was going to be a special night of celebrating because he was about to graduate high school. The following Saturday, he was slated to walk across the stage and receive his diploma. Unfortunately, he didn't get to enjoy his moment in the sun after all his hard work. Instead, he was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement just hours before the prom.

Diego Puma Macancela was tracked down in Ossining, New York just one day after ICE agents tracked down and arrested his mother, Rosa Ines Macancela Vazquez. The 19-year-old from Ecuador was brought illegally to the U.S. by his mother two years ago.

When his mother was caught, Macancela was terrified that he would be next. He spent the night at his cousin's house. The 21-year-old cousin, Gabriela Macancela, woke Puma up the next morning to tell him that ICE agents were outside demanding that he turn himself in.

Puma was so shaken that he hid under a bed. Gabriela and her father kept getting phone calls from the ICE agents outside, demanding that they send Puma out or they would break down the doors. With other undocumented relatives in the house, Puma began to worry that he was endangering other family members. He decided to go out and face authorities.

He said good-bye to his cousin and gave her his wallet. He then stepped outside where he was promptly arrested and sent to a detention facility in New Jersey, where he has remained. Instead of dancing the night away at prom and being handed a diploma, it's almost certain that he's going to be deported.

"He is petrified,” said Carola Bracco of Neighbors Link, a nonprofit group trying to help the teen. “He is scared to death he’s going to be sent back to Ecuador.”

Vazquez is being held at a different facility in New York, and she is also likely to be deported.

“If you’re in this country illegally, and you committed a crime by entering this country, you should be uncomfortable,” said Thomas D. Homan, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "You should look over your shoulder."

Since the Trump administration began, efforts to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants has intensified. Not everyone agrees that this is the best way to handle immigration. Diego has found a lot of support in his community, and nearly 20,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that he be allowed to stay.

Puma's lawyers filed a request for a stay of removal for one year so that the teen can finish high school and pursue his chosen career as an auto mechanic. Other than being brought to the country illegally as a minor, he hasn't committed any crimes. The family had applied for asylum twice but lost both cases. They didn't have the financial resources to start an appeal.

Source: MSN
Photo: Neighbors Link

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