Man’s detention by ICE decried
Organization says case is proof authorities are escalating efforts
The detention of a Waukesha County man after he was cited for driving without a license is proof that law enforcement and immigration officials are using minor traffic violations as a pipeline to deport people in the country illegally, an immigrant rights group said Tuesday.
The arrest and possible deportation of Franco D. Ferreyra, 29, also reveals an expansion of border enforcement policies to the interior of the nation to target the families of those immigrants, according to Voces de la Frontera.
“He has no criminal record,” Voces Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz said at a news conference in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office on Milwaukee’s lower east side.
“We are here to call for his release and for an end to this cruel escalation ... against people who are very much part of the fabric of our community.”
Ferreyra, who was brought to the U.S. as a child from Argentina by his parents and has lived in Wisconsin since 2001, graduated from Waukesha South High School in 2006, works as a waiter in Waukesha and is the father of four U.S.-born children.
He was cited for driving while intoxicated in 2013 and was subsequently advised by an attorney not to apply for residency status under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, according to a statement from Voces.
He was cited for driving without a license by Waukesha police in September, pleaded guilty to the violation in January and paid a $217 fine, according to state court records.
ICE agents eventually showed up looking for him at his home and his work, prompting him to report to the ICE office with an attorney in February, NeumannOrtiz said.
At that time, he was allowed to remain free until a subsequent meeting with ICE officials Monday and was also allowed to obtain a driver’s license in the interim, attorney Matthew Luening said.
But both he and Luening were caught off guard Monday when ICE officials told him he wouldn’t be going home and he was not allowed to see his family, Luening said.
“I said, ‘He’s done everything you guys told him to do,’ “Luening said.
“I said give him a chance to hug and kiss his kids. I’ll bring him back tomorrow.”
It was not clear Tuesday whether Ferreyra was arrested at the time of the citation or booked into the Waukesha County Jail.
The Waukesha County Sheriff ’s Office is scheduled this month to begin participation in the federal 287g program which grants authorities the power to enforce immigration laws, prioritizing the arrest and detention of “criminal aliens, particularly those who pose the greatest risk to public safety.”
Sheriff Eric Severson has stressed that the program would target people who are committing crimes.
“They have jailed someone who is an angel,” Ferreyra’s father, Alfredo Ferreyra, said at the news conference.
“I’m begging on the part of his family” for his release, he said.
Ferreyra’s ex-wife, Alysha Ferreyra, said their four daughters, ages 9 and younger, are fearful that she also will be taken from them.
“It’s not fair to take a father away from his children,” she said.
“They love him. They need their father and Franco needs to be here with them.”
Franco Ferreyra now plans to apply for residency status under DACA and a petition calling his release has been launched, Luening and NeumanOrtiz said.