There's always a first for everything. This Saturday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) managed to, for the first time ever, ruin the 18th birthday party of a young immigrant, Fusion reports.
Erik Javier Flores Hernandez was detained and taken to an adult detention facility on his 18th birthday, but not without drama. He was celebrating his birthday at a Los Angeles children's shelter when agents showed up and hauled him away in shackles.
Arriving at the United States as an unaccompanied minor at 17, Hernandez has a pending asylum case and has no criminal background. In Mexico, both his mother and grandmother disappeared as a result of drug cartel violence. Fearing being the next victim, he fled.
According to the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, Hernandez has family in the Los Angeles community that could sponsor him. Yet, the U.S. government appears dead sure he's a high priority case, regardless of his claims concerning the type of violence he would face if he were deported back to Mexico.
Before this administration, Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of Immigrant Defenders Law Center, said, “we had never seen a detention like this of a minor turning 18, without a criminal record, and with a pending asylum case.”
In the past, Toczylowski said, authorities would seek different alternatives to avoid detention. But now, asylum seekers like Hernandez are being arrested.
ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice told reporters that children's shelters like the one housing Hernandez are run by the Health Department and they are not allowed to house teenagers after they turn 18.
“ICE is reviewing the circumstances of Mr. Flores’ case to determine the appropriate next steps,” Kice said.
In a Facebook post, Immigrant Defenders Law Center asked the public to contact ICE and demand “[Hernazdez] be released from ICE custody immediately.”
It's not only tragic that asylum seekers like Hernandez are treated this unfairly by immigration agents, it's also a waste of resources.
As Congress and President Donald Trump battle over what to do to keep the government funded through September, we are forced to hear of reports of ICE agents arresting and deporting immigrants who haven't committed any crime and who should be allowed to stay — especially if they are seeking asylum after fleeing war and violence.
Instead of wasting taxpayer money on this, how about balancing the budget? Something the president promised he would do while campaigning for office.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters