EL PASO, Texas -- EL PASO, Texas (AP) — U.S. immigration officials said Tuesday that they have deported one of 25 people who last month surrendered to U.S. authorities at the Texas-Mexico border to protest immigration policies.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement said a judge determined 23-year-old Rocio Hernandez Perez was ineligible for immigration relief. No explanation was provided on the Mexican national's case.
ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa told The Associated Press that Perez "was removed from the country." Raul Garcia, the Mexican consul for protection in El Paso, confirmed Perez was sent back to Mexico City.
"She is no longer here and we are heartbroken," Israel Rodriguez, one of the other detainees, said in a phone call from the detention center.
The 25 detainees spent years in the U.S. after being brought to the country illegally as children and are asking that they now be allowed to return. They are part of a group of immigrants known as "dreamers," in reference to the U.S. Dream Act bill that would grant permanent residency to students whose parents brought them to the U.S. illegally.
David Bennion, a lawyer for the detainees, said he hopes that 17 of them who have completed their "credible fear" interviews, a first step in the asylum process, will be released on parole. Bennion explained that the two main factors considered for releasing detainees are if the person is a flight risk and if the person could be danger to the community.
"They will show up at their hearings," he said. "And they are students, not a danger to the community."
The 25 were among 34 immigrants who crossed an international bridge from Mexico into Laredo on Sept. 30, knowing they did not have the legal status to enter the U.S. Nine of them, including three parents and four children as well as an unaccompanied minor and the mother of a 4-year-old U.S. citizen with health problems, have been released.
Of the 25 remaining, 16 passed their credible fear interviews and one had the asylum officer's recommended denial overturned. Two more will have a hearing before a judge on Wednesday, Bennion said.
Local immigration attorney Carlos Spector, who represents more than 100 families of asylum seekers, lambasted the group. "What they are doing plays into the anti-immigrant narrative that people (who claim the need for asylum in the U.S.) are just coming to fix their papers," Spector said. "It's tragic and sad that people are forced to take desperate measures, but you don't use a desperate measure if it will hurt others."