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Immigrant dad released from detention after judge rejects deportation request

“About 30 friends and family were in the courtroom, I was crying and couldn’t even breathe."

Deportation officers arrest undocumented immigrants during targeted enforcement operation. (CREDIT: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency)
Deportation officers arrest undocumented immigrants during targeted enforcement operation. (CREDIT: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency)

A dad in the process of applying for his green card was recently released from immigration detention after a federal judge rejected a Department of Justice request to deport him to El Salvador, according to The Daily Item, a daily newspaper based in Lynn, Massachusetts.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detained Edgar “Lupe” Mendoza in January as he and his girlfriend took their four-year-old son to a doctor’s appointment, The Daily Item reporter Thomas Grillo reported. As the daily mentioned, federal agents detained Mendoza because his work permit had expired. He was held at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility for two months and released last week after a court hearing at the Boston Immigration Court.

Judge Jose A. Sanchez granted Mendoza’s request to apply for permanent residence, also known as a green card, which allows him the legal ability to work and live in the country. The Daily Item said Mendoza is expected to receive his green card and be able to get back to his life again in a few weeks.

Mendoza’s girlfriend Cindy Magana told the publication that he was undocumented, having come to the country more than 20 years ago from El Salvador. She said police arrested him last year for driving without a license and paid a fine.

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“About 30 friends and family were in the courtroom, I was crying and couldn’t even breathe,” Magana said after the judge made his decision.

Mendoza, who worked as a flooring contractor prior to his arrest, was praised by his boss who wrote a recommendation on his behalf for the green card.

“He’s my go-to guy,” the company’s owner said. “He’s great and has become a friend. He’s a fast learner, shows up on time, is polite, and is always available when I need him. I count on him because he’s skilled and he’s great with our customers who are typically owners of single- and multi-family homes.”

The publication notes that Lynn has not seen “widespread sweeps” by the ICE agency, but Lynn has been among the handful of Massachusetts localities that has seen an uptick of arrests since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017. As Grillo reported, “ICE reports the number of arrests in Greater Boston rose by 52 percent last year compared to 2016, while year-over-year deportations swelled by 44 percent in 2017.”

The ICE agency has detained a growing number of immigrant parents like Mendoza since Trump authorized a series of executive orders that give greater discretionary freedom for federal agents to pursue immigrants. In the past, the Obama administration mainly detained immigrants based on a tiered priority system that took into account longstanding ties to the community, family roots, and the severity of crimes. In this current environment, immigration agents have conducted a series of immigration enforcement operations highly lauded by Trump administration officials. Those sweeping raids have taken immigrant veterans and professors, an immigrant father of a five-year-old with leukemia, and other parents of U.S.-citizen children.