CHASKA, Minn. (KMSP) - Protesters are trying to keep their friend and colleague from being deported, so they rallied outside the Hennepin County Jail where he was first brought after being arrested.
Luciano Mejia Morales is currently being held at the Carver County Jail, but friends and family are working hard to get him out and keep him here in the U.S.
Protesters say keeping Morales from being deported is a matter of life or death. He's being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible deportation back to Guatemala, a country they say is violent and dangerous.
“In Guatemala, there are many gangs who pressure young men to join those gangs. And he has been pressured, and he does not want to do that. They threaten you with your life; they threaten to kill you if you don't join up,” said Ruth Schultz with Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), a local non-profit supporting low-wage workers.
Morales' supporters said he has been in the country for 14 years. He’s an activist in the Minneapolis Latino community, he works as a janitor and he’s also a union leader. But, while he gives his time to friends and colleagues, he gives his heart to his little brother Miguel, who is also living in Minneapolis.
“He is my brother. We are very close, we are very united,” said Miguel Mejia Morales. “We support each other in everything…so I am here fighting for him because I want him to return to my side.”
Luciano was pulled over in Richfield for a minor traffic violation. But, his attorneys said he didn’t have a license and the Hennepin County sheriff’s office said he was arrested because of multiple outstanding bench warrants.
When released, ICE agents were there to detain him for possible deportation. He just had a “credible fear interview” with ICE, which is the first step for possible political asylum.
Attempts to reach ICE were unsuccessful thus far, and it is unclear when ICE might have the results from the interview.