OSSINING, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Dozens protested Monday, after a Westchester teen was detained for deportation just days before his high school graduation.
Family and friends of Diego Puma Macancela were fired up, chanting “si se puede” — translating to “yes you can” — at Federal Plaza, making their message loud and clear along local leaders on behalf of the 19-year-old who is currently sitting in a federal immigration detention center.
“I feel bad, I feel bad,” Carlos Puma says of his son, who is awaiting deportation instead of celebrating his last week at Ossining High School.
“It’s really shocking for all of us, like we don’t know what to do any more,” Diego’s cousin Gabriela Macancela tells CBS2’s Reena Roy.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers showed up in the village of Ossining Thursday, as Diego and his cousin peeked out of the window. The Ecuadorian national was arrested right before his prom.
“We couldn’t do anything,” she said. “We couldn’t escape, we couldn’t go out because all the police were in the front door and in the back door and they were knocking on the door hard.”
The day before, Diego’s mother Rosa Macancela Vazquez was also detained. Immigration and Customs Enforcement tells CBS2 she crossed the border illegally in Texas three years ago, was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol, and then released on supervision.
ICE says an immigration judge ordered deportation for both Diego and his mother in November, which is why officers came knocking on their door last week.
The family says they were never informed of the decision.
“Nobody knew about that,” Gabriela said.
“I feel broken,” Diego’s father said in Spanish. “We came to this country not to harm anyone, but to work and to educate my kids.”
The family says they fled Ecuador to escape gang violence and to live the American dream. Fellow classmates and even the superintendent of Ossining Schools are fighting so Diego can finish what he’s worked so hard for, and continue on to college.
“We want him to continue his education,” Superintendent Raymond Sanchez said.
“We lost a brother, we lost everything, a part of me,” classmate Miguel Carpio said. “He’s part of us, part of Ossining.”
The family says they’re exploring legal options and working with local immigration groups in hopes of staying in the country.
On online petition to help keep Diego in the U.S. already has over 16,000 signatures.