Sanctuary Group Demands Release of DACA Recipient Suspected of Human Smuggling

A Texas-based sanctuary group is demanding the release of a DACA recipient being held pending deportation hearings. The group attempts to draw sympathy for the illegal immigrant with a prosthetic leg while failing to mention his “unlawful activity” matter.

Organizers with RAICES, a group founded in 1986 to promote the “sanctuary movement in South Texas,” claims that DACA recipient Felipe Abonza-Lopez was detained by Border Patrol agents after Uvalde County sheriff’s deputies pulled over a vehicle he was riding in. The group claims he was handed over to Border Patrol agents “simply for looking ‘suspicious’,” RAICES claims.

The group says Abonza-Lopez, a 20-year-old Mexican national, was simply riding in a car with three of his “undocumented relatives.” In an apparent attempt to draw sympathy to the illegal immigrant who “lost his leg at a young age,” the group is also claiming that immigration officials in the South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall are refusing to provide medical assistance and are verbally harassing the man. They claim officials at the facility said, “This is the prosthetic guy, he doesn’t need any medical care.” The statement further claims a guard told medical staff, “You can put a broomstick in his leg and he can use it to sweep.”

Breitbart Texas reached out to U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials for comment.

In a statement provided to Breitbart Texas by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesman Dennis Smith, the agency says that Border Patrol agents arrested Abonza-Lopez during the course of a human smuggling investigation.

Agents received a request from the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office for assistance in a suspected human smuggling situation. A local citizen reported a “suspicious vehicle” and encountered a pickup truck containing five individuals.

After arriving on the scene, Border Patrol agents observed clues that are consistent with human smuggling activity, they say. Notably, the agents observed the three occupants of the rear seat “were extremely dirty.” The agents said this is consistent with suspects who walk through the brush for several days before crossing into the U.S. The agents arrested the driver of the vehicle and Abonza-Lopez for suspected human smuggling, the statement reports.

While the RAICES statement claims the passengers were “undocumented relatives,” Border Patrol agents confirmed to Breitbart Texas that only one was from Mexico. The other two illegal aliens were from Honduras. The three passengers were “processed according to CBP guidelines for being illegally present in the United States,” officials stated.

“While Abonza-Lopez was not criminally charged, CBP maintains he was actively involved in human smuggling and stands by the decision to process him for deportation,” officials stated.

“This individual was arrested in the course of a human smuggling investigation,” Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Felix Chavez said in the written statement. “As a result, he was issued a Notice to Appear and his status will be reviewed at an immigration hearing.

“The circumstances of the encounter make it clear that there was a smuggling attempt in process,” Chief Chavez stated. “Deferred Action is not a free pass to engage in unlawful activity.”

The San Antonio Express-News reported that two of the illegal immigrants being smuggled were deported while the third was charged with illegal re-entry after removal.

Breitbart Texas also reached out to ICE officials regarding Abonza-Lopez’ claims of no medical attention and harassment.

ICE said they could not comment on Abonza-Lopez’ medical treatment for privacy reasons. However, ICE spokeswoman Nina Pruneda told Breitbart Texas that “ICE Health Service Corps (IHSC) oversees the medical care of ICE detainees and ensures aliens in ICE custody receive proper medical care.”

IHSC is made up of a “multi-sector, multidisciplinary workforce of more than 1,100 employees that consists of U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers, federal civil servants, and contract health professionals,” an ICE official stated. The group provides care to about 13,500 detainees in 21 facilities. An additional 15,000 detainees receive medical case management and oversight in 119 non-IHSC staffed facilities.

ICE detainees may file a grievance for perceived mistreatment through the agency’s 2011 Performance-Based National Detention Standards, officials stated. ICE would not confirm or deny if a grievance had been filed. They also would not confirm or deny any investigation into the claims made by the group.

Abonza-Lopez reportedly came to the U.S. when he was five-years-old. He remains in ICE custody pending an immigration court hearing.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTXGAB, and Facebook


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