Students Fight Detention of High School Graduate with a Mental Disability
On April 9th, Jose Melgar was on his way home from a trip to the grocery store with his mom and sister. Before reaching their house in Fort Myers, Florida, the family was surrounded by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who demanded to see their documents. Ana requested permission to retrieve documents from their home and asked officers if they had a warrant. But, without producing a warrant, they entered the Melgar home, ripping through belongings, while Ana got her paperwork.
Jose came to the United States with his family when he was 6 years old, escaping violence and terror in El Salvador. His mother, Ana, and his sister were both granted protected status, but Jose was not. Ana says that not only did officers ransack the family’s belongings, they also beat Jose before arresting him — and Ana’s family is still not sure why.
Jose is now behind bars at Krome Detention Center, and Ana fears for his mental state. Jose was diagnosed with a mental disability while in school, and his family and friends worry that the combination of trauma from the arrest and beating alongside being held in prison might be too much for him. “My son, to this point, has done everything he can to go down the right track. He didn’t deserve to get detained, much less beaten, by ICE,” says Ana.
Adam Davis, who started the petition calling for Jose’s release, is part of a community project called the Collier County Neighborhood Stories project, which has the objective of collecting community testimonies regarding police-ICE encounters like Jose’s. He says, “Considering the violence that was perpetrated against jose when he was detained, as well as his mental and physical condition, Jose should be freed on his own recognizance and retuned to the loving care of the family.”
Jose, who would qualify for the DREAM Act, has a bond hearing on Tuesday, April 24th. Adam hopes that more supporters signing the petition will help. He and other advocates in Florida are also asking for phone calls to ICE requesting Jose’s release.
Call ICE – John Morton @ 202.732.3000
Sample Script: “”Hi, I am calling to ask that Jose E. Lopez Melgar (A# 088-96-9036) be released from Krome Detention Center. Jose is a high school graduate with a mental disability. He should be released immediately on his own recognizance and returned to his family.”