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Residents Denounce Detention of Local Parents by Immigration Officers

May 26, 2017

By Mario A. Cortez

Francisco Duarte, 19, speaks with media at Otay Mesa Detention Center Friday, May 26.

Last updated on Thursday, June 1, 2017

Local residents showed up to the Otay Mesa Detention Center on Friday, May 26, in order to call for the release of Francisco and Rosenda Duarte, two National City Residents who, according to community members, have been unjustly detained by immigration officers.

The arrests that set off this demonstrations occurred on the morning of Tuesday, May 22, when the Duartes were apprehended by undercover immigration agents, leaving their elementary-aged children without parental supervision.

According to a U.S. Border Patrol spokesman, the mother requested that the minors be left in the care of their eldest son, 19-year-old Francisco Duarte Jr., and agents allowed the Duartes to make arrangements regarding the care of the minors.

Duarte Jr., a college student, is currently the primary caretaker of his younger siblings.

The Duartes have reportedly been in the United States for over 20 years and both have clean criminal records.

The following day, Wednesday, June 23, the National City Elementary Teachers Association released a media advisory and press release informing of the press conference.

Through the press release, the National City Elementary Teachers Association demanded that ICE cease the targeting of parents in the National School District.

“These sweeps and raids are having a chilling effect on National School District students’ rights to access their local public school,” according to the teachers’ association press release.

Both Duarte and Perez were arrested by U.S. Border Patrol in relation to an investigation regarding their involvement as stash house operations, according to a spokesman.

Friday’s demonstrations outside the detention facility included a press conference, scheduled for 2 p.m., and a rally in support of the Duartes.

Duarte Jr. briefly spoke about the situation to La Prensa San Diego prior to the press conference.

“I’m going to do everything in my power to get my parents back,” said Duarte Jr. in tears. “The last couple of days I haven’t been sleeping since I’ve been taking care of my siblings and speaking with lawyers trying to get answers.”

“We are here to provide a space and support to the Duarte family and to condemn the horrendous actions of immigrations law enforcement that is willing to take both the mother and father of a family,” stated Benjamin Prado of the American Friends Service Committee, who opened the conference. “(This) is an affront to the basic principles of human decency and a democratic society.”

UPDATE

A U.S. Border Patrol spokesman replied to La Prensa San Diego this week stating that both parents have been charged with immigration violations and are in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement pending their immigration hearings.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Andrea Lopez-Villafaña contributed to this story.

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