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UPDATE: Family Of Houston Immigrant Says They Are Hurting After He Was Recently Detained By ICE

ICE says the apartment complex where the man lives “was identified as part of a targeted enforcement operation”

These montage of photos show Carlos Andrés, who is originally from Guatemala, with his family.
These montage of photos show Carlos Andrés, who is originally from Guatemala, with his family.

The family of a Guatemalan man recently arrested by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agents in Houston said Friday they are hurting because he is the bread-winner, and contended they deem his detention unfair because, according to them, he doesn’t have a criminal record.

The wife and children of Carlos Andres-Elias, 30, spoke at a press conference organized by the pro-immigration reform group Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle (FIEL, by its Spanish acronym).

According to César Espinosa, FIEL’s executive director, Andres-Elias works in the construction sector.

Andres-Elias is married to Marcela Rivera, 31 years-old and originally from Mexico, with whom he has fathered five children. All of Andres-Elias children were born in the United States and one of them has a learning disability, according to Rivera.

FIEL’s Espinosa, who cited Rivera and Jorge Cantú –Andres-Elias’ immigration lawyer– as his sources explained that Andres-Elias had been previously deported in December 2005, even though he had been granted a hearing with an immigration judge. He re-entered the U.S. without the proper immigration documents in February 2006 and the fact that he had not attended his immigration hearing in 2005 is what triggered an “order of removal,” Espinosa claims.

Leticia Zamarripa, an ICE spokeswoman, confirmed in an email sent to Houston Public Media that Andres-Elias “illegally entered the country Dec. 10, 2005, and was deported on Dec. 30, 2005.”

Zamarripa added that Andres-Elias illegally re-entered in the U.S. in 2006 and that constitutes a felony.

Rivera, Andres-Elias’ wife, said ICE agents detained her husband  on January 19th this year at an apartment complex located in southwest Houston, where they live, as he was getting ready to leave for work.

Rivera told Houston Public Media that her husband told her by phone –after he had been detained– that the ICE agents were not specifically looking for him, but for other people. However, according to the wife, after asking Andres-Elias and a co-worker some questions, the agents decided to detain them.

ICE’s Zamarripa noted in her email that the apartment complex where Andres-Elias lives “was identified as part of a targeted enforcement operation.”

No work permit

According to Rivera, Andres-Elias showed the ICE agents a consular ID issued by Guatemala, his country of origin, but he then admitted he did not have a work permit.

“It is unjust what they are doing to my husband, migration (authorities), because my husband is not a criminal, he is not a delinquent, he was simply going to work,” Rivera stressed at the press conference.

Asked about what she plans to do in the immediate future, Rivera said that she is facing a “complicated” situation because her husband “was the one that worked, he was the one that covered the expenses at our household.”

According to Rivera, Andres-Elias is currently at a detention facility for undocumented immigrants located in Conroe, about 40 miles north of Houston. He was denied a bail bond during a hearing that took place this week.

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Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

General Assignment Reporter

Alvaro 'Al' Ortiz is originally from Spain. He worked for several years in his home country and gained experience in all varieties of journalism, from wire services to print, as well as broadcast news and digital reporting. In 2001, Al came to the United States to pursue a Master's degree...

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