After two weeks of protests, letter writing, phone calls, and behind-the-scenes lobbying, Ossining teen Diego Puma Macancela will most likely be deported to his native Ecuador on Friday, Carola Bracco, executive director of Neighbors Link, said Thursday morning.
"We are deeply disappointed with the decision by ICE to move forward with the deportation to Ecuador of our client, Diego Puma Macancela," she said. "It is likely he will leave the United States on Friday, as will his mother."
The 19-year-old former Ossining High School student was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the day of his prom and just days away from his scheduled graduation earlier this month after ICE claimed Puma Macancela had gang ties in Ecuador, despite claims by Ecuadorian officials to the contrary.
"Diego is leaving his home, his family, and friends behind to return to a country where retaliatory gang violence — possibly even death — await him," Bracco said.
Neighbors Link, the Mount Kisco-based organization that is representing him, said Macancela had been detained at the Orange County Correctional Facility. His mother was moved to a different facility in Louisiana.
The organization said Macancela and his family asked them to express their profound gratitude to everyone who supported his cause and worked hard to keep him in this country.
"He deeply values the education he received at Ossining High School and is very sad that he came so close to graduating but in the end was not allowed to accept his diploma or attend his senior prom," they added.
Officials with Neighbors Link said Macancela and his mother were contributing members of their community, were hard-working and law-abiding immigrants who sought asylum in the United States for their safety, security and unity of their family.
"All of us at Neighbors Link wish to emphasize to the public that your support for Diego was not in vain. There are countless, similar struggles going on in this country right now," Bracco said. "You shined a spotlight on injustice, raised awareness in your community, and made it a little bit harder for this to happen to someone else."
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