CP photo by Ryan Deto
Martín Esquivel-Hernandez in May 2016, the day before he was detained by ICE.
Local immigration activist Martin Esquivel-Hernandez, himself an undocumented immigrant, was deported this morning, according to his attorney, Jennifer Williams. Williams says U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents notified her today that Esquivel-Hernandez was deported early on Tues. Feb. 7.
When contacted today for comment, ICE officials resent a statement to City Paper
that they first sent in January saying, "U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has designated Mr. Esquivel-Hernandez’s case as a priority for immigration enforcement,” but would not outright confirm that he had been deported on Feb. 7.
“This is a tragedy,” said Guillermo Perez of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA). “A good man and a community leader was held in jail for nine months and now he is gone. He’s gone, he’s torn apart from his family, and he’s never coming back. ... Our whole city stood behind Martín, and ICE didn’t care. He’s just gone.”
To mourn the deportation of Esquivel-Hernandez, supporters are holding a rally at the intersection of South Water and Hot Metal streets in the South Side today at 5 p.m. All are welcome.
Supporters of Esquivel-Hernandez have been fighting for his freedom ever since he was detained in May 2016 by ICE. Like countless other immigrants, he was on the fast-tract to deportation. Esquivel-Hernandez had no local criminal record, apart from two minor traffic-stop violations, was an advocate in Pittsburgh's immigrant-rights community, and had a wife and three children, one a U.S. citizen, living with him in Pittsburgh.
After deciding to fight back against his deportation last May, Esquivel-Hernandez gained support from thousands of Pittsburghers, who sent hundreds of letters and made dozens of phone calls asking ICE for leniency in his case. Esquivel-Hernandez's case also received backing from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto
, U.S. Congressman Mike Doyle and Roman Catholic Bishop David Zubik. Doyle said of Esquivel-Hernandez in 2016, that “by all standings, this is someone who should have a path to citizenship.”
Sally Frick, his lawyer, was able to negotiate a lesser federal charge
for Esquivel-Hernandez, opening up the possibility of him returning to his family in Pittsburgh after being detained for more than nine months.
broke this story in June 2016 and has followed it extensively since then, including our original story of when Esquivel-Hernandez was taken by ICE
in Pittsburgh as well our CP Longform
feature on his grueling 5,000-mile journey from Mexico
to reunite with his family.