America's Voice En Español »

America's Voice

 

Francisco Rodriguez, Janitor at MIT Detained After Check-In; “Where is the Discretion?”

 

Mass deportations under the Trump Administration are continuing to break apart families and roil communities.

Yesterday, community, faith, and union leaders accompanied Francisco Rodriguez, a janitor who works at MIT, to his check-in in Burlington, Massachusetts. Francisco had also received support from thousands of people at MIT who had signed a petition, and letters of support from both of his US Senators and Rep. Mike Capuano. It wasn’t enough. Francisco was detained by ICE.

Here’s how the Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen described Francisco’s check-in and detention:

[Attorney Matt Cameron said] “This is the new ICE. This is a system that has been stripped of all humanity and discretion.”

Cameron said there was little discussion. He said the ICE agents appeared to have had their minds made up to take Francisco into custody from the get-go, and that the meeting was a mere formality…

Cameron demanded to see a supervisor. A woman came out and heard him out.

“Where is the discretion?” Cameron asked. “If not in this case, then what case?”

“There is still discretion,” the supervisor replied.

Except that there does not appear to be discretion. ICE is arresting immigrants without criminal records at twice the rate they were last year. Mothers, fathers, and community members are being detained after ICE check-ins that used to be routine, in-and-out visits. And DHS Secretary John Kelly continues to refuse to do his job and take action.

Francisco fled El Salvador after a colleague at his engineering firm was murdered by gangsters. He’s been a janitor at MIT, started a business on the side, and is an active member of his church and community. He applied for asylum in 2007 and was denied in 2009, but ICE has granted him a stay of removal every year since 2011. ICE should have granted Francisco another routine stay this year. But in this case, and many other cases, the Trump Administration seems determined to deport hardworking, family-centered immigrant-Americans who have done nothing to deserve removal.