National City Residents Express Solidarity For Detained Immigrant Couple
More than 50 residents of National City held a rally Tuesday asking city leaders to pass a resolution to discourage local law enforcement agencies from arresting people who are in the country illegally.
The rally for so-called "sanctuary city" status comes two weeks after a local couple, Francisco Duarte and Rosenda Perez, were detained outside their home and put in deportation proceedings. Activists at the rally also expressed solidarity with the couple and their four children who are U.S. citizens.
Francisco Duarte, a 19 year old student at San Diego City College, is the couple's oldest son and spoke at the event.
"You would never think that it would happen to your family – one day you're just living a normal life, one day I'm a college student and the next day I'm taking care of my three siblings," he told KPBS.
He said he feels angry and frustrated that people are preventing him from seeing his own parents.
Border Patrol said the Duarte couple was arrested because of their "suspected involvement" in "human smuggling." However, no charges have been filed and the son denies the allegation.
Christian Ramirez, human rights director at Alliance San Diego, said his organization is following the Duarte case closely in part because he thinks it may be evidence of changing immigration enforcement tactics.
Immigrant agencies have said they only conduct targeted arrests against immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally who have committed serious crimes.
The activists believe the Duarte couple does not meet that criteria.