Disabled man facing deportation claims CBP violated his human, legal rights

CBP: Man ‘arrested in the course of a human smuggling investigation'

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SAN MARCOS, Texas – A disabled San Marcos man facing deportation has a list of complaints against U.S. Customs and Border Protection, including human rights violations.

Felipe Lopez’s attorney said he client was stripped of his legal rights without due process.

“He does not understand that why if he was not charged criminally, they are still trying to deport him,” said Bertha A. Zuniga, Lopez’s attorney. “He’s just a kid, and he has trouble understanding the intricacies of the law.”

The 20-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient was picked up by Border Patrol on Oct. 11 in Uvalde County, along with four other relatives, who are also undocumented.

Lopez was stripped of his DACA status and now faces deportation.

In a statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Lopez “was arrested in the course of a human smuggling investigation.”

Zuniga said Lopez was denied due process.

“There was not determination made that his conduct was grievous against the public interest, that he could be deprived of his DACA status,” Zuniga said.

Zuniga said her client also faced harsh living conditions. Lopez wrote a letter claiming he was bullied by guards at the detention clinic.

“The guard indicated, ‘We could put a broomstick in where his prosthesis goes, and he can sweep when he walks,” Zuniga said.

Lopez will have a bond hearing Tuesday. His attorney will also address the situation with his DACA status being taken away.

Lopez is originally from Mexico, but he has been living in the U.S. since he was 5.

Read CBP’s statement below:

“On Oct. 11, U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Uvalde Station responded to a request for assistance by the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office. A Sheriff’s deputy, investigating a local citizen’s report of suspicious vehicle, had encountered a pickup truck matching the reported description, containing five subjects.

“Upon arrival, Border Patrol agents determined the situation was consistent with a human smuggling attempt: three passengers in the rear seat were extremely dirty, common characteristics for subjects walking through the brush for several days. Abonza-Lopez, a passenger in the front seat, along with the driver, were arrested for suspected human smuggling.

“The three subjects in the rear seat – two from Honduras, one from Mexico – were processed according to CBP guidelines for being illegally present in the United States.

“Abonza-Lopez and the driver were issued Notices to Appear before an immigration judge. Abonza-Lopez was determined to be a DACA recipient and transferred to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement pending a hearing.

“While Abonza-Lopez was not criminally charged, CBP maintains he was actively involved in human smuggling and stands by the decision to process him for deportation, based on the circumstances of his apprehension.

“’This individual was arrested in the course of a human smuggling investigation,’ said Chief Patrol Agent Felix Chavez, Del Rio Sector Border Patrol. ‘As a result, he was issued a Notice to Appear and his status will be reviewed at an immigration hearing.

“’The circumstances of the encounter make it clear that there was a smuggling attempt in process,’ Chief Chavez noted. ‘Deferred Action is not a free pass to engage in unlawful activity.’”


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