A Guatemalan immigrant was arrested in an East Boston park Tuesday morning by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which said the 40-year-old man entered the United States illegally.
The moments the four agents frisked and then escorted Elder Misan Guerra-Perez to an unmarked minivan parked outside Bremen Street Park were caught on video later shared on Twitter that prompted questions and calls for more information about what happened from local officials.
In a statement to Boston.com, ICE’s office of Enforcement and Removal Operations said Guerra-Perez is “illegally present in the United States” and was arrested because “he was subject to a final order of removal.”
“Guerra-Perez was initially encountered by ICE Officers in February 2010 after being arrested by the Boston Police Department on local charges. Guerra-Perez was found to have illegally entered the U.S. without inspection, served a Notice to Appear, and released from ICE custody on Feb. 17, 2010, after posting bond,” the statement says.
In September 2011, a federal immigration judge ordered Guerra-Perez to depart the country within 60 days, according to ICE. Guerra-Perez filed an appeal to the decision the next month, which was ultimately dismissed by the Board of Immigration Appeals in January 2014. The board gave Guerra-Perez 60 days to leave the United States, ICE said.
“Guerra-Perez failed to lawfully depart the U.S. as ordered and is subject to a final order of removal,” ICE said.
What charges Guerra-Perez was initially arrested for by Boston police in 2010 were not immediately clear Wednesday morning.
In the video, an agent is heard saying they had an arrest warrant for Guerra-Perez.
East Boston Democratic state Rep. Adrian Madaro said Massport, which owns the park that sits parallel to Logan Airport and the MassPike, informed him the agency was made aware of the warrant following the arrest.
Madaro, who called the arrest “an unsettling incident,” is among several local officials who are seeking more information about the interaction.
“This event is a disturbing breach to many in the East Boston community,” Madaro said in a statement. “Residents should not be afraid of being detained by immigration authorities as they walk to the train or take their families to the park. East Boston residents should know the circumstances under which Massport and the State Police allow ICE to operate on their property and what role, if any, they play in these actions.”
ICE interactions in Boston — a so-called sanctuary city, where cooperation between local law enforcement and its federal immigration enforcement counterparts is limited — have faced growing scrutiny and criticism in recent years.
City Councilor Lydia Edwards, whose district includes East Boston, said she wanted to know if Boston police played a role in the arrest.
Under the city’s “Trust Act” that was revised last year, local police cannot assist in detaining, interrogating, or arresting people solely for a non-criminal immigration matter.
Edwards vowed to speak with Mayor Marty Walsh and Boston Police Commissioner William Gross about what happened.
“Incidents like this make residents feel unsafe and afraid to go to work or play with their families in parks,” Edwards said in a statement. “Many of our undocumented neighbors are essential workers and have continued going to work through the pandemic. People should not have to worry about being detained by immigration authorities on their way to work. We need to have a clear understanding of what circumstances allow ICE to operate in our city and what role, if any, BPD played in this morning’s arrest.”
I was recently made aware of a disturbing incident that took place in East Boston this morning that ended with a man…
A Boston police spokesperson said Wednesday the department was not involved in the arrest.
“Boston is a proud city of immigrants and one of the safest cities in America,” Walsh said in a statement. “I know some residents are worried, but Boston is a City that sticks together. I am eager to work with the incoming Biden administration to increase accountability and transparency for ICE.”
Guerra-Perez’s arrest comes a month after ICE agents received backlash from local and state leaders for stopping and questioning a Black Roslindale resident as he jogged in West Roxbury. ICE later said its personnel was conducting surveillance as part of “a targeted enforcement action” and was searching for a previously deported Haitian immigrant, who matched the description of the man they stopped.
After the person who posted the video of Tuesday’s arrest reached out to her, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley said the incident is “deeply disturbing and once again raises questions about the agency’s growing presence and operations in our communities,” according to CommonWealth magazine.
“We cannot stand by while ICE agents continue to terrorize neighborhoods in the Massachusetts 7th (congressional district) or anywhere in the Commonwealth,” Pressley said.
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