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NYC Rally Calls For Release of Westchester Student Facing Deportation

Courtesy of NY Immigration Coalition

Supporters have been rallying for a high school student in Westchester County to be allowed to remain in the United States. This comes after federal officials arrested the undocumented immigrant from Ecuador June 8.

Supporters of Ossining High School student Diego Ismael Puma Macancela shouted “No more deportations” as they gathered in lower Manhattan Monday, ready to fight the student’s deportation and calling for his release. In rally sound captured by WNYC, New York Immigration Coalition Executive Director Steven Choi criticized President Trump’s immigration policies.

“We have one more example of the injustice and the inhumanity of the Trump administration,” said Choi.

Choi noted Puma Macancela was arrested the day of his prom.

“Instead of wearing a tuxedo and putting a boutineer on his wrist, he was wearing an orange jumpsuit and shackles,” Choi said.

New York Immigration Coalition officials say Puma Macancela emigrated to the U.S. from Ecuador in 2014 with his mother, seeking asylum. A spokesperson from U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement, or ICE, did not respond to a request for comment from WAMC. But a spokeswoman, in statements to local media, said ICE officers arrested the high school senior based on a November deportation order against him. Raymond Sanchez is superintendent of the Ossining Public School District.

“The recent action toward Diego blurs the hope that we seek to instill in all children. I ask, what message are we sending our society when a child is not permitted to finish his high school graduation requirements,” said Sanchez. “These actions bring fears across the community and, more importantly, fear in the students we educate. We want them to remain hopeful, not hopeless.”

New York Immigration Coalition officials say Diego’s mother was arrested the day before and is being held in a detention facility in New Jersey whereas Diego is in custody in Orange County. They say Diego was arrested at the home of his cousin, Gabriela Macancela.

“He’s not a criminal. He didn’t do anything bad,” said Gabriela Macancela. “He’s a cousin. He’s a son. He’s a student.”

Carola Bracco is executive director of Neighbors Link, a Mount Kisco-based group representing Diego Puma Macancela. She says the student had applied for asylum, which was denied, and a deportation order was issued in November 2016. She says the family did not appeal the decision because it lacks resources. Bracco says Neighbors Link will be filing a new petition for Diego. Queens state Assemblyman Francisco Moya, a Democrat who says he was the first Ecuadorian-American elected to public office, also rallied for Diego.

“Is Diego a threat to our national security?” asked Moya.

“No,” supporters said.

Is he a criminal? Moya asked.

“No,” supporters said.

Is he a pariah damaging the safety of his Ossining community? asked Moya.

“No,” supporters said.

“No, he’s not,” Moya said. “Diego is a 19-year-old whose ambition was to simply graduate high school and live out the American dream of having a better future.”

He also blasted the Trump administration’s immigration orders.

“And this war against immigrants is now on our doorsteps and destroying our families,” said Moya.

A petition in support of Puma Macancela’s release, as of Tuesday morning, had more than 18,500 signatures toward its 19,000 goal.

Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, released a statement after the Ossining student’s arrest Thursday, saying she was in touch with ICE to express her concern. 

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