A Raleigh-based activist claims she has infiltrated the Broward Transitional Center in Florida to expose cases of undocumented immigrants who are low-priority cases or students that would be eligible to stay in the United States based on the Obama administrations enforcement priorities.
Family and supporters of Viridiana Martinez, 26, an undocumented immigrant who went into the center two weeks ago, spoke about the womans case at a press conference Tuesday outside President Barack Obamas campaign office on East Ninth Street in Charlotte.
Domenic Powell of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, or NIYA, who was not at the Tuesday press conference said Martinez handed herself over to border patrol in Florida and told them she was undocumented.
They (ICE) have not made any changes theyre treating potentially eligible youth just as they would any other person and detaining them, Powell said.
Martinezs sister, Cynthia Martinez, 21, of Sanford, said Viridiana, who was born in Mexico, turned herself in to expose whats going on inside. Cynthia Martinez said her sister told her about a number of cases of more than 50 people from different parts of the world who are being detained though they could be eligible to stay in this country.
This past June, Obama issued a directive to prevent the deportations of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children.
Last year, ICE Director John Morton wrote a memorandum stating the agency should consider several positive factors including having been in the U.S. since childhood in weighing whether to exercise prosecutorial discretion for dropping low-priority deportation cases.
In an email to an Observer reporter, Dani Bennett, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, would not speak about Martinez specifically.
But in a statement, Bennett said in part: Under the deferred action process, and prosecutorial discretion as a whole, ICE is screening every alien we encounter, including those in custody.
Decisions are based on the merits of each case and factual information provided to the agency. ICE cannot respond to claims about individuals who have not been identified or to unsubstantiated anecdotes.
Viridiana Martinez was arrested last September in Charlotte and charged with disorderly conduct and an unspecified city ordinance violation. Observer researcher Maria David contributed.