“Neighbors Link” Attorneys Receive Exculpatory Letter from Ecuadorain Government.Attorneys from the Neighbors Link Community Law Practice filed a second stay of removal this afternoon on behalf of Diego Puma Macancela, the Westchester County teen who was arrested by federal agents on June 9, right before he was scheduled to attend his senior prom. A stay of removal is a petition for the temporary postponement of Diego’s deportation for remaining in the US without proper documents.
The first stay, filed on Monday, June 12, was denied on Wednesday, June 14, based on the government’s claim that Diego belonged to a gang in his home country of Ecuador. The teen and his mother dispute this, saying that they fled Ecuador in 2014 to avoid Diego’s impressment into the gang.
In an urgent effort to keep Diego from being sent back to face lethal retaliation from gang members, Ecuadorian officials were contacted asking for clarification. The group received an exculpatory letter from the government of Ecuador supporting Diego’s version of events. This is the ground on which the second stay is based.
Karin J. Anderson, lead attorney for Diego, said that when she saw him last, Diego looked relieved to know about all that was being done on his behalf and that he was going to be moved to the same facility as his mother. However, this is a frightening situation for a young person to be in. “He was not practicing for graduation today with his friends; he’s in jail.”
Communities in Westchester have come together to support Diego in his quest to remain in the United States. A petition in his favor has so far generated nearly 20,000 signatures, and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY, 17th district) succeeded in getting Diego moved from a detention facility in New Jersey to a similar facility in Orange County, NY, where his mother is currently housed.
“We are gratified to see all of the community support for Diego and his mother,” said Carola Bracco, Executive Director of Neighbors Link. “We have heard from mayors and town supervisors, Diego’s classmates, business owners, and citizens who believe in fairness and who understand that immigrants are a positive force not just in Westchester County, but throughout the country. Diego is one of thousands of people whose lives will be at risk if they are deported to their home nations. We are heartened that this second stay application was submitted and we wait anxiously for a response.”