USA – Juan Gaspar-García, a man with Down syndrome, faces deportation

To read on Miami Herald website:

Family pleads for release of immigrant with Down syndrome arrested during recent raid

A Guatemalan man, whose family says needs special care because he has Down syndrome, was arrested during a recent Department of Homeland Security search in Florida. Now his relatives are pleading for his release from a detention center for undocumented immigrants in Broward.

Juan Gaspar-García was one of 28 people detained in Fort Pierce on March 28, when federal agents served a search warrant at a tent installation company, a family member said.

Gaspar-García, 22, worked at the TentLogix with his brother, whose name was not disclosed. Gaspar-García’s brother was released because he is protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), a protection from deportation granted to certain undocumented youth.

But Gaspar-García, who immigrated to the United States when he was 14, after the death of his mother in Guatemala, did not apply for DACA and doesn’t have any other immigration protection status. He remains detained at the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach.

His sister, Dolores Gaspar-García, launched a petition on the website somos.presente.org, asking Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to help protect Juan Gaspar-García from deportation.

“My brother does not have the ability to understand certain situations without a proper explanation because he has Down syndrome, and probably does not understand why he is there or what is happening,” Dolores told el Nuevo Herald. “He also has diabetes, he takes medication and it is very important that he is with us so we can take care of his special needs.”

Dolores said that if Gaspar-García is deported to Guatemala, he has no one to take care of him in his native country. His three siblings and his father live in Florida. In 2007, Gaspar-García graduated from South Fork High School in the city of Stuart, Florida in a special program for people with disabilities.

“We are a family of four. Juan is the oldest but we have always seen him as the youngest due to his developmental delays,” Dolores said. “In reality he does not know how to read, write or express himself well and stutters when he gets nervous. I’m sure he needs me right now.”

Rubio’s office was made aware of the online petition on Tuesday and will reach out to the family to offer any assistance, a staff member said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Nestor Yglesias, a spokesperson for ICE in Miami, issued the following statement:

“ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations special agents encountered Juan Gaspar-Garcia while executing a criminal search warrant at his place of employment. They contacted their counterparts with the ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations who determined Gaspar-Garcia was in the country illegally, arrested him and issued him a notice to appear in immigration court. His immigration proceedings are ongoing,” the statement says.

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