When Houston immigration activist Roland Gramajo Reyes invited U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement negotiators to a public session for beings worried about him being arrested due to their immigration status, he didn’t think he’d end up behind bars.
He was wrong.
Gramajo’s longtime advocacy on behalf of Houston’s immigrant and Latino communities, category, attorney, and allies said, constitute them seriously disbelieve that the timing of his apprehension was an accident.
Now, Gramajo, 40, is caught in a tug-of-war between law enforcement agencies seeking to either acquit him after 25 cumulative years in the United Regime, or to first incarcerate him for unlawful entry into the United Regime, a charge that could land him in prison.
” His attachment was affirmed Monday by a federal referee, so he will remain in detention while his illegal reentry indicts are resolved ,” Raed Gonzalez, Gramajo’s attorney, told The Daily Beast.” We are trying to reopen his immigration case … Countless snags await us, but we are trying our very best .”
Gramajo, a father-god of five and grandfather of two, was born in Retalhuleu, Guatemala in 1979, and first moved to Houston at age 15. Since then, he has procreated the improvement of the Guatemalan community and his adopted hometown his life’s mission.
He founded the Centro Organizativo Guatemalteco, which collects funding for humanitarian compels in Guatemala, as well as the Southwest American Systems Chamber of Commerce, which improves minority juveniles have taken part in boasts and attractivenes processions. After Hurricane Harvey devastated the city in 2017, he took weeks off work to organize community efforts in helping those affected by the storm’s flooding that made an estimated $125 billion in expense. For his undertaking, Gramajo has received commendations from a legion of state and local organizations, including the Alief Independent School District, Houston Community College, the Golden Eagle Society, and the Houston City Council.
Only periods before his apprehension by ICE, Gramajo had organized a” know your liberties” seminar for undocumented immigrants and their families in the city–the seminar to which he had invited immigration negotiators to participate. That request, Gramajo’s advocates conceive, may have unintentionally goaded ICE into looking into Gramajo’s immigration status, a charge ICE has called ” baseless .”
” To be abundantly clear, ICE personnel did not attend this Immigration Forum in any capacity–official or informal ,” the agency released in a statement last week, saying that Gramajo became a target after ICE received an anonymous gratuity about his status.” To represent him in one-sided media reports … as a martyr of some’ covert’ law enforcement operation is an insulting affront to public safety .”
” We’re not gonna be able to comment any further on the anonymous gratuity” that led to Gramajo’s apprehension, ICE spokesperson Tim Oberle told The Daily Beast when asked about the timing of the tip-off that are conducive to his arrest,” because it’s anonymous, certainly .”
At the heart of ICE’s deportation case is Gramajo’s 1998 guilty request to a misdemeanor attack of burglary of cars, for which he was sentenced to 20 epoches in prison. Gramajo’s clas told reporters in Houston that the charge was the result of a practical joke that he had played on a friend, the vehicle’s owner.
After his plea, immigration authorities launched deportation proceedings against Gramajo, culminating in his deportation to Guatemala in summer 2004. Gramajo returned months later to be with his family in Houston–including his wife and children–and has remained ever since.
It’s that 2004 illegal entry for which Gramajo will stand trial. If he is found guilty, he could face a six-month prison sentence before his potential deportation.
” My sons, they are texting me asking how is their father, and that’s what hurts “the worlds largest” ,” Magaly Quicano, Gramajo’s bride, told reporters in Houston last week.” I’ve been praying, crying praying that he will win this immigration battle .”
Gramajo’s defenders, who weigh members of Houston’s political organisation among their members, told The Daily Beast that the potential deportation of the father-god of five is disgraceful.
” The potential of evicting Mr. Gramajo is outrageous ,” Mayor pro tem Ellen Cohen, a member of the Houston City Council, told The Daily Beast. Last year, the city council commended Gramajo as” will be devoted to helping and causing the community ,” and whose” tones represent a genuine leader with an exceptional drive enhance the quality of life” throughout the city.
” His so-called’ crime’ of coming back to this country–his country–after his 2004 removal is a result of unjust laws. If I were in his shoes, I would have tried to find a way back to my spouse and children too ,” Cohen added , noting that she has called upon ICE to immediately secrete him.” He is an asset to Houston and there is no legitimate public safety-related reason to deport him again. If ICE’s concern is public safety, they should be focusing their limited resources available on those who are bringing violence, narcotics, and human trafficking in to local communities .”
Houston City Council member Steve Le, who brought forth a successful proposal last year to specify May 17, 2018 as “Roland Omar Gramajo Reyes Day” in the city, called Gramajo” a good person and parish chairwoman” whose vicinity in the city impels it a better place to live.
” Our agency recognizes everything he has done for the community and recognized him with a Mayoral Proclamation for his achievements ,” Le told The Daily Beast.” We were surprised by his arrest and hope special courts will take into account all the great contributions he has did so as to identify his sentencing. We look forward to a positive outcome for his family and local communities .”
But after a magistrate affirmed his alliance in a hearing on Monday, Gramajo will remain in federal detention until tribulation. Even if he earns his criminal case, his existence in the United Commonwealth is far from assured–if extradited, Gramajo will be barred from entering the United Government for 20 years.
” I don’t know what the opinion will be, but I leave everything in the mitts of God and wait ,” Quicano said tearfully.” No more .”