In 2014, undocumented brothers Noe and Jose Lopez-Mulato helped Michigan law enforcement officials convict a man who’d pulled a gun on the pair during a community soccer game in a Detroit-area park.
By cooperating with police and prosecutors, the pair entered into eligibility to become legal citizens of the United States, the Detroit Free Press reported. Instead, two years after testifying against the man who’d fired at the brothers—and hit one of them—both Noe and Jose were detained and deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents this month.
“They just said, ‘We have to take your dad,’” Noe’s 10-year-old son Randy told the Free Press, describing the moment ICE agents handcuffed his father as the pair drove to Randy’s school. Noe was put on a plane and deported back to Mexico on Oct. 23. Later that week, Jose was picked up by ICE as well. Both men had pending applications for a particular visa which would have allowed them to continue living in the country, according to the Free Press. On their applications, the prosecutor who’d overseen the pair’s cooperation in the gun trial wrote that the Lopez-Mulato brothers were “most helpful” and “cooperative throughout” the case.
According to the paper, Noe voluntarily left the United States in 2007, but returned without documentation in 2009, prompting a deportation order which—until this year—had sat dormant.
While ICE declined to comment on the specifics of the Lopez-Mulato brothers’ deportations, they did release a general statement to the Free Press explaining:
ICE continues to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security. However, as ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan has made clear, ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.
The statement reflects the unfortunate reality many undocumented immigrants who had previously managed to avoid deportation now live with. Under President Trump, the Department of Homeland Security has ratcheted up its detention and deportation processes, acting upon any undocumented immigrant it manages to ensnare.
Speaking with the Free Press, Detroit Police Department officer who oversaw the brothers’ involvement in the 2014 case expressed frustration at their treatment.
“I feel bad. You just tore a family apart,” he continued. “How can you be so insensitive. I don’t understand that.”