The New York Immigration Coalition joined high school student Diego Isamel Puma Macancela’s family, teachers, fellow classmates and community members Monday afternoon, in front of Federal Plaza, to call for his release after he was arrested by I.C.E. hours before his prom.
A strong show of support turned out for the rally, held outside of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office. View pictures of the rally here.
Diego Macancela immigrated to the United States from Ecuador in 2014 to escape violent gangs. Since then, he has lived in Ossining, NY, where he was set to graduate from high school this August. Instead, Diego is now fighting to stay in the U.S. while his lawyers try to get him out of detention.
"On the very day he was going to attend his prom, he was detained instead," Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition said at the rally. "Instead of wearing a tuxedo and putting a boutonniere on his wrist, he was wearing an orange jump suit and shackles.”
“It is a senseless use of resources to needlessly police people who are in this country trying to create a better life for themselves,” he continued. We will not be safer when an entire community is needlessly criminalized and therefore afraid to interact with law enforcement. This not who we are as Americans, and this is not our New York.”
“What kind of inhumane system have we created in this country that hunts down an innocent 19 year old boy and incarcerates him?” asked Carola Bracco, Executive Director of Neighbors Link, an organization that is providing legal counsel to the family. “The result of this incident will be that victims and witnesses of crime will be fearful to trust their local law enforcement, and this makes for a much more dangerous community.”
“If we want to make a real difference as a society, we need to make sure students are provided the opportunity to finish what they started. In the case of Diego, that involves the completion of his high school diploma requirements so he can graduate,” said Raymond Sanchez, Superintendent of Ossining Public School District. “The recent actions involving Diego have created fear across our community and in some of the students we educate. These actions diminish the hope that we seek to instill in all children. What message are we sending in our society when a child is not permitted to complete his high school education?”
Speakers included Assemblyman Francisco Moya; Diego’s cousin Gabriela Macancela, who was present at the time of the arrest; Felix Flore; Jorge Paccha, a classmate, co-worker and friend; and Luis Yumbla, the Executive Director of Hudson Valley Community Coalition.
“We live moments of anguish, pain, fears, but also of hope. Diego represents these fears of thousands of young people, deprived of the right to dream, in this case, the right to graduate,” said Yumbla. “Diego cannot be locked in a prison, while his classmates will graduate this year. But Diego is not alone, there is a community that is standing, ready to fight deportations. HVCC calls for action, organization and resistance."
The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees.The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.