Five Heinous ICE Arrests in South Florida This Year
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement / Wikimedia Commons

Five Heinous ICE Arrests in South Florida This Year

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is an agency dedicated to kicking poor immigrants out of the country. ICE functions with even less oversight than local cops and a mandate to just wantonly kick brown people out of America. Studies show deportations have no impact on the U.S. crime rate! And that U.S. deportation policies help create gangs in Latin America!

But ICE still keeps arresting immigrants and kicking them out of the country, even as a grassroots movement swells to abolish ICE nationwide and move some of its functions to other federal agencies. Here's a rundown of the most insane ICE arrests involving South Florida residents this year:

1. Arresting a Miami man by allegedly claiming to be Good Samaritans looking for a wallet

Flavio Musmanno lost his wallet August 28. He has lived in North Miami Beach on an expired visa since emigrating from Argentina in 2000, but he'd since married an American citizen and is in the process of applying for permanent residency.

Musmanno had been away from his family while working construction jobs in Ohio when his wallet went missing over the summer. When he dropped the billfold, it contained little more than a few credit cards, an expired ID, and $40 in cash. But his family tells New Times that someone called back within just a few hours that day and asked Musmanno to meet at an Ohio truck stop to retrieve the wallet.

When he arrived, the supposed Good Samaritan who had found the wallet turned out to be an agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Musmanno's stepdaughter Paola tells New Times.

"When I found out what was in the wallet, I was like, 'Oh, Dad, why did you go?'" Paola asks rhetorically. "There was no phone number in the wallet. You wouldn't go meet strangers who found you like that, right?"

2. Arresting a Jacksonville woman who had a valid work visa and shipping her down to Broward County

Mary Caceres fled Colombia's brutal civil war in 2005 with her then-9-year-old daughter Daniela Gaona after Caceres' brother was killed by guerrillas. Daniela was eventually awarded status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and spared from possible deportation. But Caceres' repeated attempts to obtain asylum in the United States have so far failed despite her clean record, the taxes she's paid while working, and the thousands her family has spent on legal bills in the 13 years since she fled.

Still, Caceres was able to obtain a work visa valid May 15 through 2019. But when she showed up for a routine Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) check-in with agents in Jacksonville this past May 21, the agents ignored her visa, threw an ankle monitor on her, and detained her indefinitely. As the left-leaning ThinkProgress first reported yesterday, Caceres has since been shipped to the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, more than 300 miles from her home in Jacksonville. (Her last name has been changed in this story at her family's request for fear of repercussions from immigration officials.)

Gaona, Caceres' daughter, has since launched a GoFundMe to crowdfund resources to help secure her mother's release from ICE detention in South Florida. She says there's no reason to keep her mom locked up; she believes ICE is indiscriminately detaining people to nickel-and-dime their families.

"To me, they’re profiting off her being there," Gaona says. "We have to pay for her commissary. Just for her to call me, it costs $20 for like 20 minutes. She had to pay for her application for work authorization, and now she doesn’t get to work for the year that she paid for. If she has to go back, that’s obviously sad, but can we at least buy her a ticket and hug her goodbye? That's all we want."

3. Arresting a 24-year-old mother of three because she voluntarily tried to pay a $150 traffic fine

Maria, an undocumented, 24-year-old mother of three from Guatemala, showed up at the Martin County Jail earlier this year to voluntarily pay a $150 traffic fine.

Instead, she wound up handcuffed and thrown into jail. And even though she paid a $750 bond to leave the facility, Martin County jail officials kept her money and kept her behind bars until Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrived and took her away. Now she's stuck in a cell at the Broward Transitional Center, a privately run Pompano Beach detention center for "low-level" detainees being deported despite having either committed minor, nonviolent offenses like traffic violations or no crimes whatsoever.

She gets to see her children only once a week. And she told New Times in a phone call from the detention center that one of her children, who is 9 years old, was at one point held in federal custody. The child was so traumatized by the experience that she now fears even visiting her mother and possibly being detained again.

"They give me 60 to 90 minutes one time a week with my kids," Maria told New Times. "Imagine. I am their mother! That is very little time. They cry. They sob. 'Mami, vamos,' they say. The 9-year-old is scared she will be detained. She comes to visit me, but she is waiting to be arrested. She says, 'Mami, I don’t want to go back into detention.'"

4.Arresting a man who was trying to ask about his upcoming marriage

Via the Miami Herald:

María Eugenia Hernández and her Nicaraguan-born husband, Oscar Hernández, went to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices in Miami for an interview about their marriage that they had been awaiting for three years.

The agency uses such interviews to confirm that the marriages are legitimate and that partners like Oscar have the right to try to legalize their immigration status.

The Hernándezes brought a small album with photos of their wedding and family photos, their marriage certificate and a statement from their joint bank account.

They have been together for four years, married for three, and Oscar is the principal wage earner in the family. So María, who is a U.S. citizen, expected that everything would be OK.

But during the interview, she was asked to step out of the office. Twenty minutes later, she was told that her husband, who had a deportation order pending from long ago, had been arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Oscar, 42, who crossed the Mexico border in 2004 undocumented, has been held since then in an immigration detention center in Broward County. He could be deported at any time.

“I went to the immigration appointment with a lot of confidence because it was an interview. I never imagined they would take my husband away under arrest,” María said of the meeting last Tuesday. “We are trying to do the right thing.”

5. Arresting an immigrant with Down Syndrome

Another complete travesty from the Herald:

A Guatemalan immigrant whose family says needs special care because he has Down syndrome and was arrested during a recent Department of Homeland Security search in Florida, was released Wednesday from a detention center for undocumented immigrants in Broward.

Juan Gaspar-García was released after his sister launched an online petition, signed by nearly 900 people. The 30-year-old still faces possible deportation but can now stay with his family while the case is pending in immigration court. Gaspar-García must attend hearings in Miami.

"We are going to keep fighting to see if he can get legal status," his sister, Dolores Gaspar-García, said Wednesday afternoon, after reuniting with her brother outside the detention center. "We are very happy that he is free."

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