US: 11 immigrant protesters released; 1 deported
Texas (US): US immigration officials has released 11 of 25 people who were still detained after surrendering last month at the Texas-Mexico border to protest immigration policies.
Five of the 11 immigrants released yesterday were women. The releases came after one of the 25, a Mexican woman was deported. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said a judge determined Rocio Hernandez Perez, 23, was ineligible for immigration relief.
No explanation was provided on her case. Perez "was removed from the country," ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa told The Associated Press. Raul Garcia, the Mexican consul for protection in El Paso, confirmed Perez was sent back to Mexico City.
"She is no longer here and we are heartbroken," Israel Rodriguez, one of the other detainees, said in a phone call from the detention center.
Eleven, however, tasted freedom as they left ICE`s El Paso Processing Center about 7 pm MDT yesterday. Protest organizers had been ordered to pick those released up by car.
Instead of leaving immediately, the 11 left the vehicles as quickly as they had entered them so they could rejoice with each other. The center guards eventually shooed them off the property.
Former detainee Leonardo Contreras said it was a bittersweet victory. "We should be happy, but we are saddened by the news of her deportation," said the 33-year-old suburban New York City resident.
Contreras said he was a semester away from completing his civil engineering studies at Westchester Community College last year when he learned his father was dying of cancer at the family`s Guadalajara, Mexico, home. He was faced with the choice of staying in the United States and continuing his studies or returning to Mexico to be with his father in the last days of his life.
He chose being with his family, only to face huge obstacles to his return to the United States. Now that he was freed, he said his next step was to travel to Washington, D.C., to try to rally support for the 13 still in detention, eight of whom have failed the crucial immigration interview.
Sara Roman, the mother of one of the women released, said she was happy for her daughter. The Lancaster, South Carolina, woman said she was sad for those still in detention, however.
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