Teen Arrested by Immigration Officers Hours Before Prom

Elise Solé
Yahoo Beauty
Diego Puma was arrested by ICE officials the morning of his prom. (Photo: thepetitionsite.com)
Diego Puma was arrested by ICE officials the morning of his prom. (Photo: thepetitionsite.com)

A local community is throwing its support behind a 18-year-old high school student who was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) just hours before his senior prom.

According to a story published on Friday by Patch, Diego Puma, a senior at Ossining High School in New York who is originally from Ecuador, was picked up by customs officials on Thursday morning at his home, months after an immigration judge had ordered him deported back in November.

The petition “Save Ossining student Diego Puma” has racked up more than 2,800 signatures of its 3,000 signature goal with supporters writing, “Let him go free,” and “He doesn’t deserve this; it is very sad. No child should live in this fear for themselves or their families.” Another wrote: “This is a disgusting act of cruelty, and I hope that the Ossining School District and Police were not complicit. Release Diego now!”

“Even when someone has a final order of removal, they’re given time to appeal or petition it — it’s not like that person just gets on a plane,” ICE public affairs officer Rachael Yong Yow tells Yahoo Beauty. “That process could take years and until it’s complete, we wouldn’t remove them.”

While the local police department claims they weren’t notified about the ICE investigation, Yong Yow tells Yahoo Beauty that before ICE conducts a targeted enforcement action, it’s protocol for a local police department to be given prior notification.

Yong Yow also sent Yahoo Beauty the following statement in regard to Puma’s mother, Rosa Vazquez, who is also in ICE custody:

“Rosa Ines Macancela Vazquez, an Ecuadorian national, entered the United States at or near Laredo, Texas, in December 2014. She was arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol while attempting to illegally enter the United States. Macancela Vazquez was served a notice to appear before an immigration judge and was released under an order of supervision and enrolled in ICE’s Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP) with GPS monitoring while awaiting a decision on the case. Macancela Vazquez was ordered removed by an immigration judge Nov. 16, 2016. She was arrested by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal (ERO) officers June 7 and is currently in ICE custody pending removal.”

Yahoo Beauty could not reach Ossining High School superintendent Ray Sanchez for comment. However, according to Patch, he released a statement offering Puma the opportunity to finish his final exams and attend graduation, court permission pending.

President Donald Trump has been fulfilling his promise to deport illegal immigrants, even reopening cases that had been reprieved by former President Obama, according to Reuters. In February, the Washington Post reported on an Arizona mother who was deported to Mexico, leaving behind her two teenage children, after completing a routine visit with immigration officials — a required process due to a previous felony conviction (using a fake Social Security number to find a job).

Per the Washington Post, the woman’s 14-year-old daughter said in a D.C. news conference, “He’s separating us for no reason. We aren’t criminals. Our community now lives in fear, fear of being separated from our families.”

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