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Héctor García Mendoza, Immigrant Who Sued ICE over COVID-19, Disappears After Deportation

HeadlineMay 29, 2020

A 30-year-old undocumented Mexican immigrant who sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement two weeks ago and was later quickly deported by the agency has officially been declared missing. Héctor García Mendoza was part of a class-action lawsuit demanding the immediate release of all immigrants held at the Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility in New Jersey, where prisoners and staff have tested positive for COVID-19. Gothamist reports that four days later and without notice, García Mendoza was transferred to Laredo, Texas, where he was then escorted into the notoriously dangerous border town of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. García Mendoza reportedly hasn’t reached out to his family in Mexico or the U.S. His lawyers have contacted shelters in Mexico and immigrant advocacy groups in Texas, but no one has reportedly seen or heard from him. His family is also concerned for García Mendoza’s health, as in the days leading up to his removal, he complained of chest pain and shortness of breath but didn’t receive any medical attention from ICE. Mendoza’s removal came despite a federal judge’s order blocking the deportation. Advocates believe his expedited deportation is retaliation for the lawsuit against ICE. García Mendoza had been living in the U.S. for 10 years.

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