Yesterday afternoon, an undocumented student, Marcelo Cantañeda, 26, was released from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody in Chicago. After being told Marcelo would be deported today, local and national immigration organizations rallied along with friends and family to get Marcelo out of detention and stop his deportation. Although reunited with his family, his legal case is still uncertain since he has a final outstanding order of removal and can be deported unless his court case is reopened. Supporters are asking the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant Marcelo deferred action and to agree to reopen his case (Sign the petition here!)
Marcelo was born in Mexico and was brought to the United States, in 1994, when he was only 9 years old, according to his family. Now 26, he has been living in the United States for the majority of his life. On July 12, 2011, Marcelo’s family member contacted the police in Illinois to assist her in getting into her locked car. The police opened the car door, but under the condition that Marelo to sign a release form for potential damages. Hours later Marcelo was arrested and turned over to ICE without filing any criminal charges or claiming that he had committed any crime. His family was told that he was going to be deported that same day.
“When the Immigrant Youth Justice League [IYJL] was founded we said that we would fight the deportation of any undocumented young person who came to our attention” said Rigo Padilla, co-founder of the organization, which took on Marcelo’s case after a family friend contacted the organization for help. “We will continue fighting these individual cases because it is unfair for people to be deported. But we are also angry that the Obama administration continues to put young people in a position where we have to justify our lives in the country that we consider our home,” he concluded.
IYJL won support for Marcelo during the past week by gathering petitions locally and nationally, collaborating with other national groups led by undocumented youth, including Dreamactivist.org, the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA), Education Not Deportation (END) campaign, and Educators for Fair Consideration. Marcelo was released thanks these organizations and the efforts of community and youthworking together to fight his deportation . The IYJL will continue helping defer Marcelo’s deportation and push for federal relief.
Please take a minute to sign the petition in support of Marcelo, he still needs our help: http://action.dreamactivist.org/marcelo/