‘La Migra’ May Split Up LI Immigrant Family

María Elia Castillo, mother of Wilfredis Ayala Castillo, Wendy Urbina and her young child Justin, hope for a miracle that will stop the deportation of his father. (Photo via La Tribuna Hispana)

María Elia Castillo, mother of Wilfredis Ayala Castillo, Wendy Urbina and her young child Justin, hope for a miracle that will stop the deportation of his father. (Photo via La Tribuna Hispana)

The separation of immigrant families has become a common story throughout the nation. Nassau County is no exception. Wilfredis Ayala Castillo, a Salvadoran immigrant and the father of Justin Ayala, his 4-year-old son who was born in the U.S., was arrested by the police for crossing train tracks and is facing deportation.

Ayala Castillo’s tragedy started on January 28 of this year when he tried to use a shortcut to cross the train tracks of the Long Island Rail Road in Inwood, New York, and was arrested by MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) police. Afterwards, they handed him over to Nassau County police, and immigration agents took him into custody.

“In our neighborhood, there was a shortcut through a private home that many people were using to avoid walking hundreds of meters to cross the tracks,” said Mrs. Wendy Urbina, Ayala Castillo’s partner and the mother of Justin.

“That day [Jan. 28, 2014], Wilfredis tried to use the shortcut, but when he got to the other side, he realized the passageway was already closed, and when he tried to go back, the police arrested him,” Urbina explained.

After being arrested by MTA police and delivered to Nassau County police, Ayala Castillo was charged with trespassing. A judge of the Nassau County First District Court in Hempstead set a bail of $100 to release him. However, according to Urbina, they didn’t let him go because the immigration authorities had already requested that he be kept in custody.

“Ten days after being arrested in East Meadow,” where the Nassau County jail is located, “immigration authorities came and took him” to the detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey, said Urbina.

But the problem was that Ayala Castillo had a [previous] deportation order.

According to Urbina, in January 2005, Ayala Castillo, who was born in El Salvador and was 19 at the time, crossed the Mexican border into the U.S., but was arrested by border patrol. After the authorities contacted his parents, who were living in New York under TPS (temporary protected status), they released him but pending a deportation order.

In September 2005, following an administrative process, an immigration judge ordered that Ayala Castillo be deported, and gave him two months to leave the country.

But he stayed; and because immigration authorities check the fingerprints of everyone they arrest, when Ayala Castillo was detained [by MTA police], they detected and arrested him.

Going before an immigration judge

After Ayala Castillo was arrested, his family members hired a lawyer who filed a stop of deportation, but it was rejected. However, the lawyer appealed and the case is currently pending according to Carlos Canales, one of the community activists who held a protest in front of the detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey last Wednesday, May 7 to pressure immigration authorities into not deporting the Salvadoran immigrant.

According to Canales, on May 7, Ayala Castillo’s lawyer, his son Justin, and Justin’s grandfather entered the detention center in an attempt to speak with immigration authorities and argue why they should not deport Ayala Castillo since he did not commit any felony.

Nevertheless, Canales said that immigration authorities did not see the lawyer and Ayala Castillo’s relatives, and the case is still pending.

“If they deport him, my young son won’t have his father [around], and we need him to stay with us,” said Urbina. “My son suffers from severe allergies and he needs a lot of care. If they deport his father, it would be devastating for us.”

During Obama’s more than five years in office, more than 2 million immigrants have been deported. Although the promised immigration reform was passed by the Senate last year, it has come to a standstill in the House of Representatives, where the Republican leadership hasn’t allowed the bill to be debated or put up for vote in the plenary session.

In the face of this situation and the public outcry during the protest in Hempstead and other parts of the country, immigrants and their advocates are asking Obama to halt deportations, which are mostly faced by people who haven’t committed any felonies. Ayala Castillo’s case is one of them.

“We are asking Obama to end the tragedy of splitting up immigrant families,” said Andrés Zaldívar, one of the organizers of the May 1 march in Hempstead. [more info at Long Island Wins] “The president should realize the long-term impact on our society of separating these children from their parents. The consequences could be very serious.”

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