In New York, an undocumented father of two who bravely testified in two Brooklyn homicide cases has been released from detention after being arrested by ICE in July.
William Siguencia Hurtado has lived in the US for fifteen years, works as a livery cab driver, pays taxes, and is married to a US citizen who is trying to legalize his status.
In July 2012, William — while driving his cab and trying to keep a low profile as an undocumented immigrant — witnessed the murder of a 20-year-old man outside a nightclub and helped police arrest the suspects when he saw them again two weeks later. He testified during the trial, despite receiving threats that forced his family to temporarily relocate. Two men were found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. In a separate case, William’s statements to the DA’s office helped bring charges against three men who eventually pled guilty to manslaughter.
Despite his efforts on behalf of his community, ICE arrested him in July when William went in for his annual check-in with immigration authorities. He’d been checking in annually without problems since 2014, the year he turned himself into ICE in the hopes of obtaining legal status. It’s likely that William has no way of correcting his immigration status without spending years away from his family and young children, even though he is married to a US citizen. And for the last six months, the Trump Administration has been steadily detaining and deporting parents like William — mothers and fathers who have been living in the US for decades, who are raising US-citizen children, who work jobs and pay taxes and dutifully check in with ICE, who have desperately tried to legalize their status but have been unable to.
This week, William was released from detention after the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office sent a letter to DHS petitioning for William’s release. The DA’s Office said that crackdowns on immigrants like William are detrimental because they discourage those who are undocumented from reporting crimes, as William did. As Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez said when William was arrested:
It is very upsetting that despite his contributions to public safety, and the fact that he is married to a U.S. citizen and is the father of U.S. citizens, federal immigration authorities have detained him and are trying to separate him from his wife and children.
These immigration enforcement actions by the Trump administration create a chilling effect that deters witnesses from coming forward and jeopardize public safety.
Police chiefs around the nation, for months, have been warning that Trump’s focus on deportations threatens public safety, and have reported statistics on how Latinos in Texas and California have been reporting fewer crimes.
William says that even though he feared being deported and separated from his family, he’d testify all over again if he had to. As he said at a press conference this week:
Yes, I would always do it because these are things that are not good for humanity…I never agreed with bad things so I would testify again and help to keep the community safe.