ICE Detains Teen in New York Days Before His High School Graduation


Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents detained a high school student in Westchester, New York on Thursday, the same day of his prom.

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Diego Ismael Puma Macancela, 19, is a senior at Ossining High School, just days away from graduating. He and his mother escaped Ecuador in 2014 because of gang violence. His mom was taken into custody for deportation just one day before Puma Macancela was.

Fearful, the teen spent the night as his cousin's apartment. But immigration authorities found him the next day, circling the complex until a scared Puma Macancela finally came out.

"He's coming out, he's coming out," the teen's cousin, Gabriela Macancela, heard ICE agents say.

"They grabbed him like he's a criminal," she added. "He didn't do anything wrong, he was just doing the best he could for his future."

Ossining Mayor Victoria Gearity criticized ICE for not notifying local officials. However, immigration authorities, noting the teen's detainment follows a judge's final order in November 2016, said they were notified.

"Contrary to a statement issued from the Ossining Mayor’s Office, local police received prior notification that ICE would be in the local area conducting targeted enforcement actions," spokeswoman Rachael Yong Yow said.

Gearity is concerned about the impact ICE sweeps will have on the immigrant community in Ossining.

"When people are very scared, it's tough to distinguish between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials," she said. "What that means is people won't report crimes."

Puma Macancela's family is currently working with local immigration groups to explore legal options.

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"He came here to start a new life, and now he's going to have to go back and start all over again," his cousin said.