Macancela was denied a stay of removal Monday that would've kept him in the United States for one more year to allow him to graduate high school, according to Carola Bracco, executive director of Neighbor's Link, the Mount Kisco-based organization providing legal representation for Macancela.
In denying the request Monday, ICE accused Macancela of being in a gang back in Ecuador, Bracco said. Bracco said Macancela was actually fleeing from gangs in Ecuador that tried to recruit him and sought asylum in America with his mother, Bracco said.
Marancela was weeks away from his graduation when he was detained at his home in Ossining. Diego's mother, Rosa Vasquez was detained by ICE last Wednesday.
Macancela and his mother had been ordered removed by an immigration judge last November. Bracco said she is not sure Macancela and his mother understood what the November hearing meant.
On Tuesday night, Macancela was reunited with his mother at the Orange County Detention Center after Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Harrison) called ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan to express her concern that the two were in separate facilities.
"He is very frightened," Bracco said. "He doesn't understand what's going on."
Bracco said she does not know if Macancela has seen his mother yet.
There is no timetable for Macancela's deportation. Macancela's lawyer Karin Anderson said the process can take a couple of weeks to a couple of months, and Macancela will remain in detention. Anderson said they are exploring all options.
While attending Ossining High School, Macancela worked two jobs and paid taxes, Bracco said. He had no interaction with law enforcement, Bracco said.
"He committed no crime," Bracco said. "We have a lawless deportation system if someone like Diego can be hunted down like that. This is inhumane. He has been an exemplary member of the community.
Macancela's detention has attracted worldwide attention. A petition has attracted more than 19,000 signatures, with signees from countries like Sweden, Germany, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
Ossining School Superintendent Raymond Sanchez said they would welcome back Macancela to finish his final exams and graduate high school.
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