A 27-year-old Bronx man who has lived in the U.S. since he was 7 years old was set to be deported by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as soon as Monday despite President Joe Biden's executive order which halts all deportations.
Family of Javier Castillo Maradiaga and advocates, including Democratic congressman Ritchie Torres, say ICE would be breaking the law if the agency sends him to Honduras. In a letter to ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson, Torres said Maradiaga is eligible for deportation protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
"It just shocks me that we're wondering if he's going to be deported because there's a clear moratorium on deportation," Torres said in an interview on MSNBC on Sunday.
Maradiaga was first ordered to be deported at 9 years old, according to Rebecca Press, the Legal Director of UnLocal who is representing Maradiaga. Press says Maradiaga's parents have been living legally in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status and his siblings are DACA recipients.
Maradiaga himself had also applied for DACA, but his application lapsed in 2019 and he was subsequently arrested by the NYPD for a violation that was later dismissed, according to Press. He was then handed over to ICE and he has been in the agency's custody since.
As of late Sunday, Press said she has been told by Homeland Security that Maradiaga is not on the manifest to be removed to his country of origin but her client continued to be told that he's going to be deported.
"There could be a miscommunication, but when the miscommunication frankly has life or death consequences or devastating impact on families, that miscommunication cannot be allowed to occur," Press said.
Torres added that he's not only concerned about ICE breaking the president's moratorium, but he's also concerned about the agency as a whole, saying that there needs to be a top to bottom review.
"There are elements of extremism within ICE which has been deeply radicalized at the hands of Donald Trump," Torres said. "And even though Joe Biden is the president of the United States, I do worry that ICE remains royal to the nativist ideology of Donald Trump so ICE cannot be trusted to police itself."
In a plea to stop her son's deportation, Alma Maradiaga, who is an essential worker, said her son doesn't deserve to sent to a country he hasn't been to since he was a child.
"I ask you, how many of you would be okay with not giving your child a hug? If my son is deported tomorrow, it has been 14 months that I haven’t been able to give him a hug. For 14 months, I haven’t been able to make him a meal. For 14 months, I can’t hug my child," she told the crowd on Sunday. "It doesn’t matter how old he is, he’s my boy. Every night I cannot sleep. And I wake up every single day at 4:30 in the morning to try to give back to my community what the community deserves."
There are over 1 million immigrants who’ve lived in the U.S. most of their lives after being brought here illegally as children. Over 600,000 of them have temporary permission to live in the U.S. under DACA. Former President Barack Obama created that program administratively, and Biden wants to protect it by enacting it into law.
Biden's plan faced an immediate challenge from the state of Texas who on Friday moved to stop him from allowing a 100-day moratorium on deportations, bringing one of the first lawsuits against his new administration.
Texas claims the moratorium violates an agreement, signed in the waning weeks of Trump's presidency, that required the federal government to run changes to immigration enforcement past the state first.