News & Media

Florida Federation Saves Father from Deportation

October 14, 2011

Federation of Congregations United to Serve (FOCUS)

Hector Manuel Maniau had just taken his daughter to school when he was picked up and detained by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

His wife Melissa, a U.S. citizen and veteran, worried that their family would be separated, despite their ongoing efforts to secure his legal immigration status. Hector - who entered the country legally as a teen, pays taxes and is a loving father to three little girls -was facing potential deportation.  

Federation of Congregations United to Serve (FOCUS) in Orlando and other groups quickly rallied around the family, organizing a prayer vigil and petition urging ICE to release Maniau. Hector's story gained media attention, and two days  after the arrest, ICE representatives decided to exercise prosecutorial discretion and release Hector.

"The whole ordeal was terrible" says Melissa.  "I didn't know where he was. When you go to the ICE website, the number there is disconnected. Most people are too afraid to speak out about this. But something must be done."

In June, ICE director John Morton issued a memo calling for a stay on deportation of low-priority immigrants. The White House issued a similar statement in August.  To date, neither statement has been supported by formal policy changes. As a result, Hector, who is a positive and contributing member of his community, was allowed to be suddenly snatched from his family without warning.

PICO National Network and federations across the country are pressing for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. PICO is working diligently to urge President Obama to implement policy changes that would  grant relief of deportation to DREAM eligible students and mixed status families.

 "Hector's case reminds us that broader reforms are needed, and that recent policy guidance must be backed up by real action in our communities," said Reverend Clare Chance of Broadway United Methodist Church, a member of FOCUS. "We need more protection for people.  We need to stop wasting government dollars on enforcing a broken law that penalizes upstanding members of our communities and tears families apart."