One day after his Coral Gables office was occupied by six immigration activists, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson on Thursday took action in the case of an Argentine man who is being held at the Krome detention center.
In a letter to Janet Napolitano, Nelson asked the U.S. secretary of Homeland Security to review the case of Claudio Rojas, who reportedly has been on a hunger strike for more than two weeks.
“I’m told Mr. Rojas has been in the U.S. about 12 years and has a wife and two children who are dependent upon him,” Nelson said in the letter to Napolitano. “I’m requesting you review this case and determine whether prosecutorial discretion is applicable.”
Rojas, a father of two, came to the United States from Argentina in 2000. According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) he was authorized to remain in the U.S. for 90 days, but he never left. On May 27, 2010, an immigration judge granted Rojas the option of a voluntary departure within four months.
Rojas did not voluntarily depart the U.S. and his grant of voluntary departure became an order of removal.
According to ICE, Rojas was arrested as a fugitive in February 2012. Several applications for a stay of removal were denied. On June 17, Rojas’ case was reviewed by ICE to determine if he qualified for deferred action for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Rojas didn’t qualify because of his age. Currently, Rojas is waiting for his deportation at Krome.
On Wednesday, six activists with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance were trying to raise awareness of the case by organizing a sit-in at Nelson’s office in Coral Gables. At 5 p.m., closing time for the senator’s office, the protestors were asked to leave.
Most left, but two refused. By 5:30 p.m., Coral Gables police arrived and the pair were arrested. Police identified them as 27-year-old Benjamin David Miller and 21-year-old Judith Huerta. Both defendants were charged with trespassing.
On Thursday, the immigrant organization reacted to Nelson’s letter.
“It is an improvement”, activist Mohammad Abdollahi said. “The problem is, the letter still does not take a position.”
Later Thursday, the group plans a visit to Nelson’s Broward County office to continue the protest.