Samuel Sixtos-Gomez came to the United States as an 8-year-old. Now the father of a citizen daughter the same age, Sixtos faces deportation since he crossed without papers. The Santa Ana resident wanted to resume studies, earn his G.E.D. degree, and apply for Deferred Action (DACA) protection, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained him instead.
At a rally outside the Santa Ana ICE Field Office last week, Marta Sixtos told a Spanish-language news reporter that her 25-year-old son was walking down the street when taken in under the pretext of an unpaid ticket. Activists that organized the event say Santa Ana Police made the stop. ICE didn't give details as to what agency apprehended and turned him over in their authorized statement to the Weekly.
"Mr. [Sixtos]-Gomez, whose immigration history includes six previous removals–in 2007, 2008 and 2009–was transferred from local custody into ICE custody on April 18," says ICE spokeswoman Lori K. Haley. She made no mention of any criminal record in commenting on his case, but did allude to his multiple border crossings.
"ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities as well as immigration fugitives, and those who have re-entered the United States after having been deported," Haley adds. "ICE makes determinations about whether to proceed with an enforcement action based upon the agency's priorities, taking into consideration an individual's circumstances and the specific facts of each case."
Like so many others, Sixtos comes from a mixed-status family. In addition to his daughter, he serves as a father figure to citizen siblings, since immigration authorities deported their dad years ago. Despite his family depending heavily on his earned income, Sixtos might meet the same fate.
As in other cases, the migrant-led SanTana-based youth group RAIZ is trying to prevent Sixtos' deportation. They approached Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez about the ordeal. She penned a letter to ICE Field Director Robert Naranjo.
"I respectfully request that you review Mr. Sixtos-Gomez's case to determine if he meets the qualifications for prosecutorial discretion, is not considered a danger to the community, and the requested review adheres to all applicable laws and regulations," Congresswoman Sanchez wrote.
"As a responsible father and aspiring student, he should be immediately released," says Alexis Nava Teodoro of RAIZ. "The Obama Administration said they would not deport immigrant youth, yet Samuel remains in immigration detention."
He's being held at the same Adelanto facility that ICE officials transferred Evan Smith, a hotel worker from Stanton with a stepson in the U.S. Army, into custody. Both men await release or deportation.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz