Colorado Man Who Spent Months In A Church To Avoid Deportation Is Detained By ICE

credit: The Denver Post / YouTube / @_msakas / Twitter

Arturo Hernandez Garcia was first on the radar of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2014, after he was charged with an assault. The Obama Administration attempted to deport him but he sought sanctuary at the First Unitarian Society of Denver. During his time in the church, the charges were dropped and his criminal record remained clean. Now, despite the constant assurance from the Trump Administration and the Department of Homeland Security that only those with criminal records are going to be deported, Hernandez Garcia is being taken away from his family.

Arturo Hernandez Garcia migrated to the U.S. with his wife in 1999. The couple overstayed their visas.


When Hernandez Garcia and his wife, Ana Suazameda, came to the U.S., they brought their then 3-month-old daughter, Mariana, with them. Mariana is now a DACA beneficiary who is about to graduate from high school. Since then, Hernandez Garcia and his wife had another child who is a U.S. citizen.

When Hernandez Garcia was first slated for deportation under President Obama, he found sanctuary in a church in Denver and after nine months, he was free to go since his charges for assault were dropped.


In 2014, the Obama Administration tried to deport him over assault charges but he sought refuge in the First Unitarian Society of Denver. While in his sanctuary, the charges were dropped and it was found that there was no wrongdoing. The Obama Administration then let Hernandez Garcia know that his case was downgraded and that he was no longer a priority for deportation.

Hernandez Garcia’s freedom was met with excitement and celebration in 2015, but he knew that things weren’t over yet.

“It’s not over,” Hernandez Garcia said in 2015, according to The Denver Post. “I don’t feel completely comfortable. I need more. I need legal status first.”

Despite having no criminal record and being a low-priority for deportation, Hernandez Garcia was detained by plainclothes ICE authorities who didn’t identify themselves until they had their hands on him. ICE is defending the decision to detain Hernandez Garcia.


“Hernandez Garcia has overstayed his original, six-month visa by nearly 14 years,” ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok told The Denver Post. “He has exhausted his petitions through the immigration courts and through ICE.”

ICE officials detained Hernandez Garcia while he was picking up tiles for a flooring job he was doing. Some activists are calling the detention politically motivated — not a move to improve public safety.


Suazameda told CBS Denver that the officers had their badges reversed to avoid detection and were wearing plain clothes. According to NBC, Suazameda said that she was told that the officers called to Hernandez Garcia and introduced themselves and shook his hand. When the officers confirmed they were speaking to Hernandez Garcia, they quickly arrested him. Suazameda said her brother was with Hernandez Garcia at the time but was unable to record the incident on his phone because officers confiscated it.

The arrest of Hernandez Garcia has sparked outrage from immigration activists in Colorado who already believe that ICE is increasingly going after those without criminal records.


“I don’t think anybody disagrees there should be enforcement and we need to get dangerous people off the streets,” American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado public policy director Denise Maes told The Denver Post. “But we are hearing a sense of fear, a sense of anxiety and a sense of their being targeted and distinguished from other criminals.”

You can watch Arturo’s story, reported by the Denver Post, below.


READ: President Trumps Deportation Demands Are Putting ICE And Border Patrol Into Compromising Positions

 

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