ICE questions, then releases, undocumented Lynn resident
His attorney says she was shocked at release
AN UNDOCUMENTED Lynn resident reported voluntarily to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on Friday and, to the surprise of his attorney, was allowed to leave.
“I am so pleased. I’m giving thanks to God and all the people who have helped me,” said Rogelio Gonzalez in a Spanish-language phone interview just minutes after his release.
While most ICE check-ins are currently being done remotely, most situations where an undocumented immigrant comes into contact with ICE end in detention, due to an ongoing Trump administration policy.
Gonzalez’s attorney, Susan Church, said her client was briefly detained for about an hour and a half on Friday. She wasn’t allowed inside with him. “Then he just walked out the back door. I was shocked,” she said.
That’s when Gonzalez claims Wong threatened to call ICE several times. Gonzalez is originally from Guatemala, and had been arrested three times in the past for entering the country illegally. Those arrests were for civil, not criminal, violations.
Gonzalez was detained on October 5 by ICE officials outside his home, but was released after protesters with Lynn United for Change surrounded the authorities’ unmarked van with Gonzalez inside, handcuffed. His 13-year-old daughter, who was home doing remote learning, had called the group, which had been helping the family bring the conditions in the home to the attention of city officials in Lynn.
The group of ICE officers said Gonzalez would be released on the condition that he report to the New England regional headquarters in Burlington on Friday for a check-in. The release was also made on the grounds that ICE has a policy that it can’t make an arrest if doing so would leave a young child alone.
Wong could not be reached for comment, but told WBUR that he didn’t call federal immigration officials. “There’s no reason I called ICE, since I know they are legal … they don’t have any evidence [that I called immigration],” he said. “They just bullshit.”
Attorney General Maura Healey’s office opened an investigation earlier this month into the landlord’s alleged use of threats of deportation against Gonzalez and other tenants in the building. A spokeswoman for Healey said the office has been keeping a close eye on self-help evictions – where a landlord illegally goes around the court process and tries to forcibly remove the tenant from the property through a number of ways, including by threatening to call ICE.
“We are calling on ICE to not detain or deport Robelio, since his participation is critical to the investigation of the abusive landlord,” said organizers at Lynn United for Change. “His presence is also important to the prosecution of a criminal complaint against the landlord, which has been requested by the City of Lynn Inspectional Services Department.”
Church said after Gonzalez’s release on Friday that she is now hopeful for her client. “His asylum and U-visa cases now have a shot, since it’s hard to get those processed if you’re in custody,” she said.