Immigration officials detained a Mexican teen seeking asylum in the U.S. Saturday. Erik Javier Flores Hernandez won't forget the day he turned 18-years-old as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities took him from a children's shelter in Los Angeles. They brought him to an adult detention facility where Flores Hernandez must now wait for the review of his case.
Immigration lawyers for Flores Hernandez posted his story on Facebook. They detailed the teenager came to the U.S. last year as an unaccompanied minor to escape the drug violence in his hometown.
Flores Hernandez lost his mother and grandmother because of the drug cartel. He also experienced and witnessed domestic violence as a child.
Lisa Okamoto of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center said the boy had no criminal record and is a "sweet, soft spoken" baby-faced young man, as per LAist. Okamoto also noted the ICE's detention of Flores Hernandez was out of the ordinary procedure. "It has not been the norm for kids like Erik to be detained in the first place," she said.
Immigration experts agreed with Okamoto's observation. In the past, minors seeking asylum who have turned adults and who have no criminal records were usually entrusted to their family's care in America. Flores Hernandez had family in Los Angeles as well as a religious group willing to help him and still ICE detained him, as per Los Angeles Daily News.
Meanwhile, ICE issued a statement confirming the detention of the 18-year-old. They implied Flores Hernandez' papers are under review, thus, they cannot comment on the succeeding steps to his case.
Lindsay Toczylowski of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, however, said they have not received information on which detention facility the ICE brought the teenager. Toczylowski's group also demanded Flores Hernandez' release as his detention is "akin to putting him in criminal custody when he has no criminal history."