They kidnapped Juan, said Mariana Tapia, cousin of 19-year-old Juan Diego Jiménez, who was deported to the Dominican Republic just 16 hours after appearing for his appointment. They didnt even grant him his right to call a lawyer. They just threw him on a plane, she said. But all of his friends are here today to tell the government: We want him back! she said, to chants by the crowd of Bring back Juan Diego now!
Tapia explained that Jiménez, a permanent U.S. resident, received a letter asking him to come in September 3 for what he thought would be the final interview for his citizenship application. After turning 18 he had submitted his request for citizenship. He completed his paperwork, was fingerprinted, and passed the required test. When he showed up, however, U.S. officials put him on plane to the Dominican Republic the next day under an old deportation order dating to when he was 14.
Aarti Shahani, of the New York-based immigrant rights group Families for Freedom and an organizer of the press conference, read a message from Georgiana Facey, a U.S. citizen whose husband, Howard Facey, was arrested a few weeks ago when he went to immigration offices to pick up his work permit, or green card, and was quickly deported to Jamaica.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claims the summary deportations are legal because in both cases an old deportation order existed.
But how can it be? said Subhash Kateel, of Families for Freedom. Neither of them saw an immigration judge or received notice of their deportation order. Neither of the two men had even been informed of the old deportation orders during any of their prior visits with immigration officials, he said.
Shahani explained that Jiménez was deported and the DHS ordered a 10-year ban on his return to the United States, a restriction that is usually difficult to obtain a waiver to reverse. Immigrants who are 18 or younger are generally not subjected to such measures. Jímenez had turned 19 just two days before he was deported. An attorney with the organization Dominicans 2000, Lisa Reynoso, appealed to workers of all nationalities to join in the fight to defend immigrant rights. Its about the basic right to due process and the right to counsel, she said.
These laws cannot just be fought in the courts, said David Chung, one of the protesters, in an interview. He said his son, who was born in Jamaica, is locked up at the York County prison in Pennsylvania and faces deportation. We have to involve the masses of working people. Thats the only time the government will respond, he said.
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