Islas In Custody

Thomas MacMillan PhotoThe mayor pleaded on his behalf. So did a U.S. Congresswoman and two U.S. senators.

None that succeeded in stopping the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency from arresting New Haven Jose Maria Islas Monday and sending him to a Massachusetts lock-up en route to deporting him back to Mexico.

The action took place in Hartford after Islas (pictured above at a February protest in his behalf) lost an appeal of his deportation. His case has become a rallying cry for activists critical of ICE’s “Secure Communities” program, which seeks to deport dangerous criminals. Islas and his defenders say he was mistakenly arrested in Hamden thanks to racial profiling for a robbery he didn’t commit, then accepted a plea deal to stay out of jail; ICE calls him a threat to society and says that he has repeatedly entered the country without permission.

His supporters plan to make one more last-ditch appeal to ICE’s national director, John Morton, on Islas’ behalf.

Click here for previous coverage of his case.

ICE says Secure Communities is intended to crack down on undocumented immigrants who pose a significant threat to public safety—those with a criminal record, or who are on a terrorist watch list. Local and state officials have decried the program as a ham-handed effort that threatens law-abiding immigrant families and undermines trust between immigrants and police.

A release distributed Monday by immigration reformers quoted Junta for Progressive Action’s Ana Maria Rivera Forastieri as saying: “Jose Maria and his family have been such an inspiration to our movement. He’s courageous, hardworking and a fearless advocate against the separation of families. We encourage everyone to keep fighting for Jose Maria because the fight is not over.”


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