ICE arrests man in East Boston park

Agency says Guatemalan immigrant was in US illegally

This story has been updated.

FOUR AGENTS with Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested a man in an East Boston park on Tuesday morning.

A video from a passerby shows ICE agents searching the man’s wallet, frisking him, and then taking him into custody. According to the passerby, one of the agents said “ICE had a warrant for his [the arrested man’s] apartment.”

ICE on Tuesday night identified the man as 40-year-old Elder Misan Guerra-Perez.  “ICE officers arrested him in Boston November 17 as he was subject to a final order of removal,” said a spokesman for ICE’s office of Enforcement and Removal Operations. He said Guerra-Perez is a Guatemalan national who is illegally present in the US.

“Guerra-Perez was initially encountered by ICE Officers in February 2010 after being arrested by the Boston Police Department on local charges. Guerra-Perez was found to have illegally entered the US without inspection, served a Notice to Appear, and released from ICE custody on February 17, 2010, after posting bond,” said the spokesman. The agency did not respond to questions about whether Guerra-Perez was convicted of any crime.

In 2014, Guerra-Perez lost his appeal for deportation at the Board of Immigration Appeals and was given 60 days to leave the country. According to ICE, Guerra-Perez failed to leave and has been subject to an order for removal for the past six years.

ICE detained Guerra-Perez in Bremen Street Park, which is owned and run by Massport. Rep. Adrian Madaro initially claimed Massport Police had been presented with a warrant for his arrest before it happened. Madaro later said Massport reached out to him to say they were not aware of the arrest.

A Massport spokesperson said the agency  reached out to ICE after the arrest because it occurred on their property.

Madaro said that the public needs to be made aware of the circumstances of the arrest.

“I think it’s important to know the details. Was it someone who overstayed a visa? Or someone with a violent background?” he said.

Todd Lyons, the acting field director for ICE’s New England office, said in February that agents are focusing on “public safety threats” – people who have been charged with or convicted of crimes. The agency is also interested in people who have committed crimes, been deported, and then returned to the US, he said.

Lyons said the agency would rather detain undocumented people who are already in local jails or courthouses, but that avenue has been blocked because of a lack of cooperation from local law enforcement officials. “When agencies and other jurisdictions don’t cooperate with us, we do have to go out into the community,” Lyons said.

Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards said she is asking Mayor Martin Walsh and Boston Police Commissioner William Gross if they have information on the arrest.

“I know some residents are worried, but Boston is a City that sticks together. I am eager to work with the incoming Biden administration to increase accountability and transparency for ICE,” Walsh said in a statement.

“Incidents like this make residents feel unsafe and afraid to go to work or play with their families in parks,” said Edwards in a written statement. “People should not have to worry about being detained by immigration authorities on their way to work.”

Meet the Author

Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

She said she is also inquiring to see if the Boston Police Department played any role in this morning’s arrest. The police department’s involvement with ICE is limited under the revised Trust Act, which prohibits cooperation with ICE on purely civil immigration arrests or operations. The Boston Police Department said its officers were not present at the detention of Guerra-Perez.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley weighed in on the incident after the East Boston resident who posted the arrest video reached out to her.  She said the incident is “deeply disturbing and once again raises questions about the agency’s growing presence and operations in our communities. We cannot stand by while ICE agents continue to terrorize neighborhoods in the Massachusetts 7th [congressional district] or anywhere in the Commonwealth.”