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Las Vegas family pleads for release of father in ICE custody

Karen and Jennifer Martinez should be studying for finals next month, but they’re more concerned about their diabetic father, who they say has not been given his medication since he was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement last week.

“It has been five days and he has not received his medication, as far as we know,” said 22-year-old Jennifer Martinez, who is also diabetic. “I know how important it is for us to take our medication, and especially if it hasn’t been taken in five days, it can be life-threatening.”

Jesus Martinez-Manon, 53, was detained Thursday outside his Las Vegas home and could be deported as early as Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving. His daughters said the agents who arrested him left his work bag and car keys in front of their door, but never knocked or spoke to them.

The family didn’t know where their father was until an agent called and asked Jennifer Martinez to bring her father’s medication to the Henderson Detention Center last weekend. Martinez-Manon told her that he has yet to receive it.

His family held a news conference Monday at the UNLV Immigration Clinic, which is representing their father in court, and pleaded for ICE to release him.

“All we’re asking (is) for our family to be reunited for the holidays,” Jennifer Martinez said. “Thanksgiving is coming up, and Christmas, and we just want our family to be together.”

Martinez-Manon came to the United States from Mexico 30 years ago. He met his wife, Ana, and raised three children with her. His daughters said he worked in construction and landscaping for most of his life, and began building houses when he was a child.

Jennifer Martinez is studying psychology at the College of Southern Nevada and expects to receive her associate’s degree this year. Her sister, Karen, 24, is set to graduate from UNLV in May with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. They have a 17-year-old brother in high school whose name is also Jesus.

“Without him, we have to fend for ourselves,” Jennifer Martinez said. “We’ll have to drop out of school just to support the family.”

Removal order issued

ICE spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe said in a statement Monday that Martinez-Manon received a final order for removal and will remain in custody until he is deported. She said ICE records show that Martinez-Manon was previously deported to Mexico in June 2008.

Michael Kagan, director of the Boyd Law School’s Immigration Clinic at UNLV, said that Martinez-Manon made the effort to change his immigration status over a decade ago but sought help from a lawyer who made the problem worse.

“What we can see so far is that an application was filed that should not have been filed without Jesus understanding what he was filing, and it does not look like it was followed up on,” Kagan said.

He declined to share additional details, saying the Immigration Clinic is still gathering documentation for the case.

Kagan said that from a legal standpoint, ICE is not required to detain or deport Martinez-Manon. Kagan said he does not have a criminal record and has lived, worked and paid taxes in the U.S. for three decades. Whether he is released is up to ICE.

“He is a good man. He’s very hardworking. He follows the law by the book,” Karen Martinez said. “He was so desperate to become a U.S. citizen that 10 years ago he went to go see a lawyer, where he messed up his case.”

Their mother, Ana Martinez, cannot speak English and does not work. Her children are afraid that they could lose her as well. Karen and Jennifer Martinez said their teen brother has been hurt by the loss of their father, though he may not show it. They said he’ll be affected by it for the rest of his life.

“We’re asking ICE to show decency to a family that are our neighbors in Las Vegas and who should be able to be together the same way the rest of us are together,” Kagan said. “That’s all.”

Contact Max Michor at mmichor@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0365. Follow @MaxMichor on Twitter.

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