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Sires, Castro, Pallone Lead Letter Demanding Answers on ICE’s Deportation of Héctor García Mendoza

May 22, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C.) –Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ), Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX), and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) sent a letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Matthew Albence raising alarm over the deportation of Héctor García Mendoza. They were joined by 15 of their Democratic colleagues in calling for answers as to whether ICE violated Mr. García Mendoza’s right to due process, deporting him in apparent violation of a court order preventing his removal and as a potential act of retaliation for his role as a named plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against ICE.

Mr. García Mendoza had been detained at the detention center operated by CoreCivic in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and is a named plaintiff, along with three other detainees, in a class action lawsuit demanding the immediate release of all individuals being held in the facility due to unsafe conditions. After the lawsuit was filed, ICE moved Mr. García Mendoza from the Elizabeth facility and would not share his location with his attorneys, disregarding an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order to prevent his removal that was pending before the court. Even after the motion was granted, ICE was not forthcoming with flight records or information about Mr. García Mendoza’s whereabouts but claimed, without evidence, that he had been removed to Mexico prior to the judicial order.

“Given Mr. García Mendoza’s role as a named plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against ICE, his removal raises serious questions about whether his deportation may have constituted an act of retaliation,” the Members wrote. “Furthermore, we are appalled at reports that ICE would not confirm specifically where Mr. García Mendoza was deported to or produce flight records in response to repeated requests from his counsel.”

“We are alarmed by ICE’s seemingly deliberate actions to expedite Mr. García Mendoza’s removal despite ongoing legal proceedings and the apparent violation of Mr. García Mendoza’s right to due process, as well as ICE’s lack of transparency and unwillingness to communicate with his counsel.”

The letter was signed by Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-08), Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-06), Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Congressman James P. McGovern (MA-02), Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51), Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Congressman Jesús G. "Chuy" García (IL-04), Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02), Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-12), Congressman J. Luis Correa (CA-46), Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09), Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14).

Full text of the letter can be found here.