Immigrant Stages Protest at Consulate and Ends Up in Detention
Source: San Antonio Express News
By Elaine Ayala
on May 12, 09 04:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
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The Mexican Consulate was in a difficult situation recently when it called the San Antonio Police Department onto what is considered Mexican soil to arrest a protester who is an undocumented immigrant.
At issue was perpetual gadfly Rodolfo Macias. Some of you may know him. He runs an online publication called San Antonio Newspaper. Once an architect in Mexico, he has worked as a waiter in the United States. More to the point, in this story, it should be noted that he has a long history of protests and unusual behavior — like the time he declared himself the provisional president of Mexico and when he jumped into the San Antonio River to get closer to Ann Richards.
Macias, who was arrested for criminal trespassing, resisting arrest and interference with the duties of a public servant, has been arrested before. This time he may have protested too much. So much so that the San Antonio political activist, in the country for 20 years — most of that time illegally — may end up being deported.
It all began the morning of April 29 when Macias arrived at the Mexican Consulate downtown with his laptop in hand. He sat down, made himself comfortable and staged a hunger strike to protest the lack of comprehensive immigration reform. Longshot mayoral candidate Rhett Smith accompanied him for most of the day.
Macias, later detained by immigration authorities, says he was protesting immigration laws that deny his children basic rights, such as a driver’s license and a college education. He also says he was protesting the Mexican government’s "abandonment" of its citizens living and working in the United States.
For its part, the Mexican Consulate just wanted to close its office at the end of the day. It asked Macias to leave, but he refused. Though considered foreign soil, law enforcement can enter the consulate if requested. No laws were violated, says Henry Flores, dean of the St. Mary’s University Graduate School.
The police report says Macias "layed down (sic) on the floor in passive resistance on his back" when officers tried to arrest him. He was handcuffed and taken into custody.
And this is where the story gets even more complicated. Jail wasn’t the first stop after his arrest. Because Macias complained of a leg injury (presumably while resisting arrest) and to a problem with blood pressure, EMS was called and he was taken to Metropolitan Hospital downtown.
A group was there to protest his arrest and stand in solidarity with Macias. Among them was Antonio Diaz, founder of the Texas Indigenous Council, and various minor candidates in Saturday elections. Five of them were arrested, including Diaz, who says they were charged with blocking a passageway, a charge they denied. They spent about a half-day in jail and were released, posting bonds of $800 each. Diaz says the group never blocked the sidewalk on which they were staying outside the hospital.
If you think too much was made of too little, perhaps this is the case here.
Meanwhile, Macias is holding firm, and he’s looking for an immigration lawyer.
But here’s another issue: How did Macias get into immigration’s hands? He says SAPD called Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and a police report confirms that. Immigration spokeswoman Adelina Pruneda says she was told immigration agents on a routine jail check encountered Macias and lodged "an immigration detainer against him."
"We have these teams of officers set up across the country who work doing routine jail checks," she said. It’s part of the Department of Homeland Security’s criminal alien program.
All over the country, immigration advocates complain about this sort of cooperation between federal and local officials. That is, police helping to enforce immigration law.
Macias says he spent most of his time at the immigration detention facility in isolation. He says the consulate does little to help its citizens in such situations. Without legal counsel and the consulate’s advocacy, Mexican immigrants in the detention center sign away their rights and are summarily deported, unable to return.
That didn’t happen to Macias. He demanded to go before an immigration judge. He was released from detention after about four days later and is now back home. He immediately sent out a letter to friends about the circumstances of his arrest and detention.
Macias says he’s putting the whole matter in God’s hands.
Like so many immigrants facing deportation, his fate now rest in an immigration court unless comprehensive immigration reform wins him another day. And chances are Macias will use it to stage another protest.