Contact: José Torres-Don


Family of Immigrant in Detention to Confront DHS

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano at Duke University Thursday

DURHAM – While families continue to be torn apart in this country due to a broken immigration system and haphazard policies, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano will visit Duke University this Thursday as part of a lecture series. NC DREAM Team has been awarded allotted time to address the secretary, in which Griselda de los Santos will speak on behalf of her brother, Javier de los Santos, a Charlotte man with no criminal record who has been in Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody since Sept. 6.

Secretary Napolitano has the official power to call for the release of Javier; Griselda intends to present the secretary with more than 2000 signatures of support from all over the country calling for her brother’s release. The free, public event will be held at the Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy Fleishman Commons on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 5:30 p.m.

Javier De Los Santos was detained on Sept. 6 for driving without a license plate light. He was separated from his family and forced to leave his wife, seven months pregnant, and two children. His wife and newborn daughter, whom Javier has yet to meet, have suffered health complications that doctors have attributed to high stress. Without their sole financial provider, the family was left no choice but to move from an apartment they could no longer afford.

This case is one of many that provides real-life evidence as to why programs like Secure Communities (S-Comm) are widely criticized. In North Carolina, all 100 counties participate in this program, one that, in theory, is meant to identify and detain hard criminals. However, in the case of Javier and countless others, it has led to the detention of a hard-working family man and the separation of families. Because of failed policies by Secretary Napolitano and this presidential administration, Javier has been detained for a minor traffic violation and awaits deportation and a life away from his family.   

“They are deporting so many people that are fathers of families and that don’t have any criminal backgrounds,” Griselda said.

According to recent ICE statistics provided by an article in the Winston-Salem Journal, “Nearly half of the immigrants processed by an immigration court in the United States were not convicted of criminal offenses […] for federal fiscal year 2011, which started Oct. 1”

As the head of DHS, Napolitano complies with the Morton Memo outlined by ICE director John Morton, which implies that people like Javier are a candidate for prosecutorial discretion. Secretary Napolitano should have the foresight to keep Javier home rather than use limited resources to deport him and others like him, separating more families.

Alicia Torres, member of the NC DREAM Team, met Javier at Mecklenburg County Jail the same day she and nine other undocumented youth were arrested in a peaceful civil disobedience. Because of the public presence of their action, those youths were released while Javier, a faceless immigrant, remained detained.

“There is an undeniable inconsistency between what Secretary Napolitano wants to believe the local policy is and what actually happens on the ground by her ICE agents where deportations are business as usual,” Torres said. “We will hold her accountable. If she is going to deport us, she shouldn’t hide the truth while the administration lies to us about the progress being made for our communities. We are not afraid to come out of the shadows anymore and we are not afraid to stand up for hard working people like Javier and his family.”