EL PASO, Texas (AP):
United States immigration officials on Tuesday night released 11 of 25 people who were still detained after surrendering last month at the Texas-Mexico border to protest immigration policies.
Five of the 11 immigrants released were women. The releases came after one of the 25, a Mexican woman, was deported. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said a judge determined Rocio Hernandez Perez, 23, was ineligible for immigration relief. No explanation was provided on her case.
Perez "was removed from the country," ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa told The Associated Press. 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 centre.
Eleven, however, tasted freedom as they left ICE's El Paso Processing Center about 7 p.m. MDT Tuesday. Protest organisers had been ordered to pick those released up by car. Instead of leaving immediately, the 11 left the vehicles as quickly as they had entered them so they could rejoice with each other. The centre guards eventually shooed them off the property.
Former detainee Leonardo Contreras said it was a bittersweet victory. "We should be happy, but we are saddened by the news of her deportation," said the 33-year-old suburban New York City resident.