On Aug. 3, Sergio Salazar, an 18-year-old longtime U.S. resident, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Antonio, Texas. Salazar, who goes by the nickname “Mapache,” was protesting in front of an ICE processing facility as part of “Occupy ICE San Antonio” when he was “pushed into a van and [taken away].
According to a report by The Intercept, the agents took Salazar behind an abandoned Walmart where they shackled him and emptied his pockets before transporting him to the South Texas Detention Complex in Pearsall. Once there, Salazar says he was taken to a room where the FBI probed him for information and told him his immigration status had been revoked because he was a “bad person.” When he refused to talk to them, he was transferred to the Webb County Detention Center in Laredo, Texas.
The detainment of Salazar follows the trend of ICE singling out and targeting immigration activists as advocacy groups voice their concerns. Earlier this year, Maru Mora-Villalpando, a prominent immigrant right leader, came under direct threat of deportation. She stated that she believed she was being targeted because ICE “are not so much against my immigration status, but against my political work.”
In response to inquiries from KENS 5-San Antonio regarding Salazar's arrest, ICE responded:
“On Aug. 3, 2018, officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested Sergio Samuel Salazar-Gonzalez, 19, from Mexico for being in violation of federal immigration law. DHS will not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to enforcement proceedings, up to and including removal from the United States.”
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not target unlawfully present aliens for arrest based on advocacy positions they hold or in retaliation for critical comments they make. Any suggestion to the contrary is irresponsible, speculative and inaccurate. ICE prioritizes its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security. Target information is based on intelligence-driven leads – this may include open source information.
A petition sponsored by RAICES, a San Antonio-based immigration legal service provider, describes Salazar as a “committed community organizer and budding filmmaker.” Originally from Mexico, Salazar had legal status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and had applied for a renewal a month before his arrest. Salazar's lawyer from RAICES Texas said that the process for renewal had been moving along and he was scheduled to give fingerprints for a new work permit this week.
#ACTIONALERT— RAICES (@RAICESTEXAS) August 6, 2018
Demand the release of #Dreamer Sergio “Mapache” Salazar! He was targeted by @ICEgov for speaking out about their abuses of power! ICE continues to terrorize migrants who speak out against them, tearing families apart#AbolishICE #freemapache #FamiliesBelongTogether pic.twitter.com/g0LzZfUFas
A Facebook page called “Free Mapache” referred to Salazar’s arrest as “an act of terror by the US government to keep the public from protesting the unethical and immoral treatment of immigrants by ICE and DHS.”
“Mapache is a dedicated, long-time community activist who has committed himself to fighting deportations, police violence, and corporate exploitation. He is overflowing with generosity and is always willing to put himself on the line for others. He is only 18 years old, fresh out of high school, and he has already contributed and sacrificed so much for local activism. We ask you to give him all your support as we move forward in responding to this blatant example of State repression.”
On Monday, the group, along with Occupy ICE SATX, sponsored a vigil for Salazar at the site of his arrest.
Read more here.