A Mexican couple from Brooklyn was detained on July 4 outside the Army base at Fort Drum, near the border with Canada, where they had traveled to celebrate the holiday with their son-in-law before his deployment to Afghanistan.
According to NBC New York, Concepcion and Margarito Silva were questioned by border patrol agents, who questioned their New York City IDs and taken to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center hundreds of miles away. The couple was born in Mexico, but has lived in New York for two decades, according to their son Eduardo, who spoke with NBC New York. In 2007, they received an official Department of Labor work permit.
Eduardo said they had valid New York City IDs, which they had used to access military bases before. But this time, military police questioned the ID and asked for a second form of identification. After the couple showed their passports, military called Border Protection agents, who took them to a detention center in Buffalo.
NBC New York reported:
“He’s about to be deployed again while my sister is pregnant, and he works so hard for his country, and he loves his country so much,” said [their daughter] Perla Silva.
Now the Silvas say the Department of Defense won’t allow the Army sergeant to speak up in defense of his immigrant relatives. Most worrying is the fact that both parents have recently undergone surgery and need medication. The Silvas say they have gotten calls from their mother, who said she was denied her medication. They say they have not heard from their father.
“I know my dad, and he is scared,” said Eduardo Silva in tears.
The couple’s daughter-in-law told NY1 that the Silvas’ children specifically asked Fort Drum officials whether their undocumented parents could visit, and they were told that they could if they showed ID. She said that the officials did not say anything about the base asking for a second form of identification.
New York activists are demanding the couple’s release.
“This is yet another case of rogue ICE and CBP agents, in concert with military personnel, using all of their energy to tear apart immigrant families and put our loved ones at grave risk. ICE must free the Silvas today,” immigrant advocacy group Make the Road New York said in a statement to NY1. “And, with new evidence presenting itself every day of this agency’s heinous abuses against our community, we continue to say: abolish ICE.”
Last month, ICE officers arrested and detained an undocumented immigrant who was delivering a pizza to the Fort Hamilton military base in Brooklyn. Pablo Villavicencio, originally from Ecuador, also showed his New York City identification card but was told that wasn’t enough. He is married to a U.S. citizen and has two U.S.-born daughters and filed for a green card in February. He is now being detained at a center in New Jersey.
“It’s been a month of nightmares,” his wife, Sandra Chica, told the Daily News last week. “It’s been a month of questions and no answers.”