Ecuadorian government officials say that a 19-year-old New York high school student who’s facing deportation was never involved in gang activity in his native country.
That was the reason U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement denied Diego Ismael Puma Macancela’s bid to remain in the United States.
“We have reviewed our government records and have confirmed that he has no criminal record Ecuador,” Linda Machuca, consulate general of Ecuador in New York, said in a letter to ICE. “Additionally, based on our evidence, he is not now, nor ever has been affiliated to the gang Sombra Negra or any other gang in Ecuador.”
Puma Macancela’s attorneys filed a second stay of removal Friday and said the Ossining High School senior and his mother were seeking asylum in the U.S. because he was fleeing those same gangs.
Puma Macancela was arrested last week by ICE agents on the same day as his high school prom.
Earlier on Friday, classmates and supporters of the teenager held a rally outside Ossining High School to show their support.
Many of those rallying were high school students, including Jessenya Zhizhpon, Gabriel Lucero, Nathaly Tuquinahui and Janeth Viva.
The seniors came to the rally after a rehearsal for graduation, which takes place Saturday.
Carola Bracco, executive director of Neighbors Link, said in a statement that they’re “gratified” to see all the support from the community.
“We have heard from mayors and town supervisors, Diego’s classmates, business owners and citizens who believe in fairness and who understand that immigrants are a positive force,” Bracco said. “Diego is one of thousands of people whose lives will be at risk if they are deported to their home nations. We are heartened that this second stay application was submitted and we wait anxiously for a response.”
Credit: USA Today, www.usatoday.com