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  • PROTEST

    Group demands release of ICE detainee

    Man imprisoned in violation of Trust Act, activists say
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  • ADELANTO — A handful of demonstrators who traveled from the San Gabriel Valley picketed outside the Adelanto Detention Facility East on Friday to demand the release of a young Mexican father whose deportation case is receiving attention from politicians and Spanish-language media outlets.
    Orange County Sheriff’s Department officials have publicly admitted that Samuel Sixtos-Gomez, 25, was detained in violation of the California Trust Act, a bill enacted at the beginning of the year that prohibits deportation proceedings of undocumented citizens for committing minor crimes.
    Sixtos-Gomez was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement by Orange County Sheriff's deputies in April after he was arrested by Santa Ana police on a warrant for driving without a driver’s license, according to protest organizer Sarai Herrera and past media reports. He remains in solitary confinement in the facility at 10400 Rancho Road and is on his fifth day of a hunger strike.
    “They’re trying to make me eat,” Sixtos-Gomez said over the phone while the group rallied outside. “I want to get released. I have a daughter and mom that need me. I’m in here and I’m useless. I can’t do anything.”
    A spokesperson for ICE was not immediately available for comment Friday afternoon. Sixtos-Gomez said he hopes the hunger strike will lead to his release. His next court hearing to seek asylum is on Sept. 5.
    The Orange County chapter of the Immigrant Youth Coalition, called RAIZ, led the demonstration. RAIZ member Carlos Perea, 22, said Sixtos-Gomez has already attended several court proceedings while in detention and “it is clear he is not a priority for deportation.”
    RAIZ members are demanding “accountability” from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Spokesman Lt. Jeff Hallock said the agency admits it made an error, but this does not provide any recourse for Sixtos-Gomez because he is now in federal custody. Hallock said deputies acted based on inaccurate information contained in Sixtos-Gomez’s local arrest record.
    “He was in our custody and we released him into the custody of ICE,” Hallock said. “There were some issues with the local arrest records we utilized to make that determination. We eventually determined the information was inaccurate.”
    Hallock said the department has since implemented a checks and balances system so the situation is not repeated.
    Sixtos-Gomez is the father of a 5-year-old girl who is a U.S. citizen, and he is the sole-provider for his family. He has lived in the U.S. since he was 8 but was deported once and stopped at the border several times prior to his current imprisonment. According to RAIZ, Sixtos-Gomez would qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals if he is released and enrolls in school to complete his G.E.D.
    “This is unacceptable,” Herrera said. “RAIZ and community members will gather together in solidarity with Samuel. We will be sending a message to ICE officials demanding the release of Samuel, who was wrongly incarcerated.”
    Brooke Self may be reached at 760-951-6232 or BSelf@VVDailyPress.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @BrookeSelf or @DPEduNews.
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