North Hollywood >> The detention and cross-country transfer of a 22-year-old North Hollywood man is prompting questions from immigrant rights advocates who believe the Trump administration might be violating its recently stated policy of not deporting young immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.
The case of Jesus Alonso Arreola Robles is complicated by a 10-day silence on the part of immigration authorities, followed by their disclosure Thursday that they believe Robles was trying to smuggle someone into the country.
Robles and a 17-year-old companion were taken into custody on Feb. 12, while driving on State Route 94 in Campo, California, about a mile from the U.S.-Mexico border.
Since then, according to officials, Arreola Robles was processed for deportation. He currently is being held in a detention facility in Folkston, Georgia, and waiting for his case to be heard before an immigration judge.
• VIDEO: North Hollywood ‘Dreamer’ being held by ICE, processed for deportation
But in a press conference Thursday, Arreola Robles’ attorney, Joseph Porta, said he had not been allowed to speak to his client, and he got no response from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when he sought to locate his client’s name in the agency’s database of immigrant detainees.
“I’m an attorney. He’s in the United States. He has due process rights. He has a right to counsel. He has a right to be represented. I have a right to have access to my client,” Porta said. “I haven’t been able to get a live person on the phone that can actually tell me exactly where he is.
“That’s something I haven’t seen in my entire career.”
In a statement issued after the press conference, immigration officials confirmed that Arreola Robles was transferred to ICE on Feb. 15. The officials did not explain why he was moved to Georgia, but said that “ICE routinely transfers detainees to other detention facilities based on available resources and the needs of the agency.”
Immigrant advocates criticized the delayed response.
“ICE once again dragged its feet, and kept Jesus from speaking with his attorney until pressured by the family and the media to do so,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles.
According to Porta, Arreola Robles was among the first recipients of DACA, a program created under the Obama administration to provide deportation relief and work permits to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Portas added that his client has no criminal history, which is a requirement for recipients of the program.
Arreola Robles’s mother, Rosa Robles, said Thursday that she brought her son to the United States illegally when he was 18 months old, and that the family has been living in Los Angeles ever since.
She added that she is “desperate to see him.”
More than 750,000 immigrants have received protection under the program, about a third of whom live in California. According to federal officials, about 1,500 DACA recipients have had their status terminated as a result of a criminal conviction or gang affiliation.
The news of Arreola Robles’ detention comes amid heightened fears of the Trump administration’s plans to expand the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants, including those who had been considered low priorities under the Trump administration.
Earlier this month, immigration agents in Seattle arrested another dreamer, 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina, whom they accused of being a threat to public safety based on a gang affiliation. His lawyers have contested the accusation, and have filed a lawsuit to challenge his detention.
Memos released by the Department of Homeland Security this week, which detail how the administration plans to execute its crackdown on immigration enforcement, leave DACA protections in place. Trump himself has taken a softer tone toward the program since taking office, saying in a news conference earlier this month that he would treat dreamers “with heart.”
But immigrant rights advocates say that the recent arrests of dreamers Seattle and Los Angeles have raised new questions about the Trump administration’s commitment to protecting DACA.
“Because the administration’s positions have been so scattered, I’m not sure anything Trump says alleviates the fear,” said Sylvia Juarez, who runs the DREAMER Resource Center at San Bernardino Valley College. “And we can’t give them reassurances that the policies won’t change.”
On Thursday, Porta said he’ll ask for Arreola Robles to be released on bond until his hearing. An immigration judge will decide whether he is allowed to remain in the U.S.
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