Detroit ICE agents are known as some of the most aggressive immigration agents in the country. Just last year, they were targeting parents they suspected of being undocumented by stalking children at an elementary school. Other victims have spoken up about being strip-searched in front of their children and shoved through walls. One US citizen was shackled after ICE agents refused to accept his identification, while a six-month pregnant woman was refused medical care.
Now, ICE agents in Detroit are splitting apart another family by trying to deport Gustavo Vargas, father of four, who was arrested in an undercover sting aimed at gang members. Vargas is not a member of a gang and has no criminal record.
Undercover law enforcement officials working with ICE and the Oakland County Gang Crime Task Force identified Vargas as a suspicious individual and ran a criminal background check. They discovered Vargas was deported in 2000 after being stopped at the US-Mexico border attempting to re-enter the country after visiting his family.
ICE director John Morton came out with a memo almost one year ago with guidelines to help ICE agents determine whether an individual should be deported. Apparently, ICE agents in Detroit didn’t get the memo – or they’re just ignoring the Administration’s wishes.
Vargas has been in the country since he was 15 years old, owns a business, and is married with four children. Despite his strong ties to the community, he could be deported today.
“He’s been here for more than 20 years with a clean record,” says Gustavo’s attorney, George Mann. “His main crime is reuniting with his family 12 years ago…Every time you deport a guy like Gustavo you split up a family.”
“You leave a wife and three or four kids behind who are destitute. These broken families don’t stay broken too long. They’ll come back, if they can.”