The end of any school year is supposed to be filled with an immense feeling of accomplishment — and for high school seniors, that emotion is often magnified by memorable moments that last a life time, including prom and graduation. Diego Ismael Puma Macancela, a 19-year-old from Ecuador, was robbed of that because of his undocumented status.
On June 8, just one day after Diego’s mother was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), Diego was also detained — on the same day as his prom and just days before his graduation. According to NBC New York, Diego went into hiding at a cousin’s house in Ossining, New York, out of fear after his mother was detained by ICE. A picture taken by Diego’s family shows ICE officers standing outside the home smiling and laughing.
“They grabbed him like he’s a criminal,” Gabriela Macancela told NBC New York. “He didn’t do anything wrong, he was just doing the best he could for his future.”
NBC New York also reported that Diego and his mother, who both fled Ecuador due to gang violence and moved to the United States in 2014, had been taken by ICE stemming from a 2016 court order to have them removed.
Gabriela said her aunt and cousin had no idea they were ordered to leave, because if they had, they would have appealed it.
“He came here to start a new life, and now he’s going to have to go back and start all over again,” Macancela told NBC New York.
Luis Yumbla of the Hudson Valley Community Coalition told WNYC that Diego should not have been taken in the manner that he was.
“He is a young student. He is hard-working,” Yumbla said to WNYC. “He has two jobs to help the family, to help himself, and he doesn’t have any previous criminal record or arrests.”
U.S. Representative Nita Lowey of New York also sent a letter to ICE asking for the release of Diego and his mother.
My letter to ICE to requesting a stay of removal for Diego Puma. ICE should focus its enforcement on criminals, not children and students. pic.twitter.com/iZMiXa3HRJ
— Nita Lowey (@NitaLowey) June 10, 2017
In a statement, Assemblyman Francisco Moya of New York called ICE and DHS “unhinged.”
My statement regarding the unjustified detention of Diego Macancela: pic.twitter.com/vImSYINAoM
— Francisco Moya (@FranciscoPMoya) June 10, 2017
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