When the DACA recipient and Monterey County resident Juan Manuel Martinez drove a friend to jail, he was caught with marijuana and meth in his car. The 19-year-old “dreamer” says he isn’t guilty of gang affiliation, and his immigration attorney’s, Miguel Hernandez and Blanca Zarazua, intend to help him resist deportation.
John Mineau, chief deputy for corrections with Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, said they run patrols to prevent drugs from entering the jail. They took Martinez into custody during one such patrol. “We take that stuff very seriously,” he said.
Martinez was originally charged with possession of marijuana and meth, but after a plea to a lesser, minor charge of trespassing, the judge sentenced him to time served. Lawyers and family expected Martinez to be released.
Instead, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) placed a hold on him.
“I went to the jail that evening to visit another client. I ran into my client’s mother, she said they’re not going to release him,” Hernandez said.
According to Hernandez, ICE “picked him up and transported him to immigration court.”
Martinez lives in Salinas, California, a city south of San Francisco, where Sheriff Steve Bernal has said his department isn’t cooperating with ICE. But Mineau says ICE has a desk at the jail and they decide who should be picked up, collecting undocumented immigrants that have been convicted of a crime.
Martinez’s lawyers claim that the trespassing charge should not have warranted immigration detention. Mineau said that as soon as he was arrested, Martinez was flagged by ICE for having a gang affiliation and possessing drugs on jail grounds.
According to Zarazua, Martinez is being deported for being a gang member and because his DACA had expired, and she says neither charge is true. She’s upset with Sherriff Bernal. She thinks Martinez’s referral to ICE shows that the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office is cooperating with them.
“Publicly he’s said he’s not cooperating with ICE unless serious crimes are involved, and this is not serious,” says Zarazua.
Martinez received temporary legalization under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, put into action by the Obama administration. He is awaiting deportation in Northern California detention and has a bond hearing on Tuesday. His lawyers say Martinez did not have a previous record.
H/T: The Mercury News
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