Activists on Friday urged the federal government to release a Brentwood man who has been detained since February, soon after President Donald Trump issued strong immigration enforcement orders.
David Antonio Rodríguez, 40, was one of the first people on Long Island to be detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement since the new orders took effect, activists said.
The native of El Salvador came illegally across the United States’ border with Mexico years ago. His advocates said he has lived on Long Island for more than two decades and was detained because of a DUI arrest that occurred more than two years ago.
ICE did not respond Friday to an inquiry about the case.
The immigration enforcement orders, signed and unveiled in January by the Trump administration, authorize actions that expand detention of unauthorized immigrants and step up efforts to apprehend and remove immigrants with criminal records and those here illegally.
Rodríguez, who is being detained in Bergen County, New Jersey, is scheduled to appear in immigration court in Manhattan on Wednesday.
Court records show he has been arrested three times in Suffolk County in cases in which he ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges.
The activists said Rodríguez has undergone counseling and completed probation as required, and pointed out that he was employed and has a wife and three children.
“He has paid his debt to society . . . Detaining working family men like Mr. Rodríguez will not make our community any safer,” Victoria Daza, with Long Island Jobs with Justice, said at a news conference outside the courthouse in Central Islip. The conference was attended by other groups, such as the Long Island Federation of Labor.
Rodríguez was detained by ICE agents on Feb. 7 as he was preparing his children for school, the advocacy groups said.
Mayra García, 36, Rodriguez’s wife, said the detention has left her family incomplete and their three children asking daily for their father, who works as an installer of sprinkler systems.
The agents knocked on the door of the family’s home about 8 a.m. on Feb. 7 as their children were preparing to go to school, she said.
“It was scary for the children. They saw these officers come in with their police jackets,” García, who works cleaning houses, said in Spanish.
Two agents who had entered through the back found her husband. He was handcuffed and walked out of the house as his daughter watched, García said.
The couple’s children, ages 5, 11 and 8, were born on Long Island. Their 11-year-old son is autistic. Their 8-year-old daughter is enrolled in special education because of learning disabilities.
She acknowledged that Rodríguez has made mistakes, including driving under the influence and driving without proper documentation, which led to misdemeanor convictions.
García said he had been reporting to his parole officer regularly and was attending a counseling program following the drinking incident.
“We are all humans and we have the right to make mistakes and have a second chance,” she said.
In 2009, Rodríguez was stopped for driving without a license; he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge. In 2013, he pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree, a misdemeanor, after he was arrested while trying to get a New York driver’s license in his name, his wife said. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to operating a motor vehicle with blood-alcohol content of .08, a misdemeanor, his wife said.