PHOENIX – Federal immigration authorities are violating the rights of a
16-year-old boy by refusing to release him to his parents and shipping him off
to a holding facility in another state, an attorney for the teenager’s family
Phoenix attorney John Shaw said a deputy field officer with the U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement told him Miguel Mayorquin was being sent
away because he poses a danger to the community.
His mother and stepfather said nothing could be further from the truth. They
said he is a troubled teenager who had used marijuana, but wouldn’t do anything
to hurt anyone else.
“He’s my son,” his mother, Wendy Serrano, said in Spanish. “He’s just a
Serrano and Miguel are both illegal immigrants from the northern Mexico state
of Sonora and have lived in Phoenix for 13 years. Miguel is awaiting immigration
proceedings in Phoenix and has a court date in November.
Miguel’s stepfather and legal guardian, Noel Serrano, is a U.S. citizen, as are
Wendy Serrano’s two younger children, ages 9 and 11. Wendy Serrano also is seven
Shaw said he is confident that Miguel will be allowed to stay in the U.S. since
the teen has a U.S. citizen as a legal guardian and has lived in the U.S. since
he was 3 years old.
He also said that the teen likely would qualify to avoid deportation under
President Barack Obama’s announcement last week to allow hundreds of thousands
of illegal immigrants to stay in the country and work.
Under the administration’s plan, illegal immigrants can avoid deportation if
they can prove they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and
are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous
years, have no criminal history, and graduated from a U.S. high school or earned
a GED or served in the military.
Shaw said that ICE is improperly holding the boy and violated his rights by
refusing to allow the teen to speak to him on Thursday before his flight. Shaw
also said that ICE refuses to say where they are taking the teen.
Jon Gurule, a deputy field officer for ICE in Phoenix and the agent that Shaw
said he spoke to, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
ICE spokeswoman Amber Cargile in Phoenix said it may be difficult to release
any information about the teen because of his age and privacy issues, but that
she would talk to the agency’s privacy attorneys about the case.
Meanwhile, Shaw said he has filed a complaint with an oversight board in
Washington, D.C., and is considering seeking help from the American Civil
Liberties Union to file a lawsuit against ICE in federal court.
“They are taking juveniles like this boy, ripping them out of their homes and
sending them to facilities across the country as a punitive measure against
parents, despite the fact that the juveniles have legal representation,” he
said, adding that he knows of one other similar case to Miguel’s but suspects
there are far more that go unreported.
Noel Serrano, a construction worker from Idaho, said this is not the first time
that ICE has refused to release the boy to his family.
After serving a couple months for punching his stepfather in front of a police
officer, Serrano said Miguel was turned over to ICE in 2010. He said the agency
told his wife that if she came to pick him up, they would release the boy to her
but also start deportation proceedings against her.
Because Wendy Serrano didn’t want to take that risk, Noel Serrano said, ICE
then took Miguel to a facility in Virginia for three months and a Texas facility
for two months before bringing him back to an Arizona facility.
In the meantime, the family hired Shaw, who had Noel Serrano become Miguel’s
legal guardian, and the family finally was able to pick him up.
Miguel tested positive for marijuana earlier this year while still on
probation, kicking off another stay in juvenile detention and his current
“My wife is going crazy and I really can’t do anything to help,” he said.
“She’s worried about it going on again like last time for five or six months.
He could be anywhere.”
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