Jesus Martinez Manon has lived, worked, and raised his family in the U.S. for the last 30 years, but he could be deported as soon as Tuesday, leaving his wife and three children just ahead of Thanksgiving.
Martinez Manon, 52, was detained by ICE outside his Las Vegas home while getting ready to leave for his job as a construction worker on Thursday morning. Martinez Manon does not appear to have a criminal record, though ICE officials say he has been deported once before, in 2008.
According to UNLV Immigration Clinic Director Michael Kagan, Martinez Manon may have been the victim of unethical legal advice given by an immigration lawyer while the family attempted to legalize his status.
During a press conference at UNLV on Monday afternoon, Martinez Manon’s two daughters, Karen and Jennifer, and Kagan asked the community for their support in bringing Martinez Manon back home before the holidays.
“I just want my father back,” Karen Martinez said through tears. “Especially because Christmas is coming up.”
Karen Martinez is a student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) studying criminal justice, and Jennifer Martinez is a student at the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) studying psychology.
Records from the Henderson Detention Center show Martinez Manon was booked there Thursday as a “contract booking” with ICE, with no bond or bail posted. Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe, an ICE spokesperson, confirmed a previous deportation.
“According to relevant checks, Martinez-Manon was previously removed to his home country of Mexico in June 2008. As a previously removed alien in receipt of a final order of removal, he will remain in ICE custody pending his removal to Mexico,” she said.
Kagan says ICE has discretion in the case.
“This doesn't have to happen,” he said. “No law has to change for them to be together again. ICE has the authority already to put them back together and to let responsible attorneys sort out a situation that never should have gotten to this point.”
Martinez Manon was born in Toluca, Mexico, where he could be deported to Tuesday. Karen Martinez said there is nothing for her father in Mexico.
“My parents met here 30 years ago in a country they call home and they had three children and this is the life they have known for over 30 years,” she said. “And then going back somewhere they have not been, to go back to a place they have not called home — they have not called Mexico their home in over 30 years. There's nothing for them over there.”
Kagan said ICE has no obligation to detain Martinez Manon, much less deport him.
“I can say with certainty that ICE is not required to be detaining him, they're not required to deport him,” Kagan said. “So we are asking ICE to show decency to the Martinez family given the wonderful family that they have built and to give time to the family do what they've always wanted — to explore legal options of being able to stay here.”
In addition to the stress of the sudden loss of their father, Karen and Jennifer worry because their father is diabetic, and as far as they know, has not received his diabetic medication in more than five days while inside the Henderson Detention Center. Jennifer also suffers from diabetes and hyperthyroidism and knows that failure to take diabetic medication for a period of days can be life-threatening.
Jennifer said that she received a call from her father following his arrest, asking her to bring his medication to the detention center. She said she’s been in contact with him since and each time they’ve talked, he’s told her he’s yet to receive his medication that she dropped off on the morning after his arrest.
A representative for the Henderson Detention Center told The Nevada Independent that the detention center cannot disclose any inmate’s specific medical needs, but said inmates are provided vital medical care.
“The Henderson Detention Center ensures that all inmates in our custody and care are treated in the most professional manner and are provided the necessary medical services for their health and well-being by the medical contractor as outlined in our Division Procedure CPM4561,” the spokesperson wrote.
Martinez Manon’s daughters said he is the sole financial provider in their household and his absence would obligate them both to drop out of college to help support their younger brother and their mother.