For most high school seniors, prom is a celebration they look forward to. They get to memorialize four years of learning, working hard, and making friends. Unfortunately for Diego Ismael Puma Macancela, it's something he wasn't able to experience — because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials arrested him before he could make it to the dance.
Puma Macancela's mother had been detained by federal immigration police on Wednesday, June 7 — he was apprehended a day later.
After his mother had been taken into custody, Puma Macancela looked for safety at his cousin's apartment, but ICE officials still showed up at their door.
"They grabbed him like he's a criminal. He didn't do anything wrong, he was just doing the best he could for his future," his cousin Gabriela Macancela told NBC.
Although his family argues they were not notified of an order for his arrest, ICE officials said his detention was due to an immigration judge's notice that was signed in November 2016.
Ossining mayor Victoria Gearity publicly denounced the federal agency for not informing the local police about the arrest.
She explained to NBC that she saw it all happen right outside her window and told USA Today, "When people are scared, it's tough to distinguish between local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement. And that means people are less likely to report crimes or help with investigation."
However, ICE spokeswoman Rachael Yong Yow released a statement that notes the village police were notified. "Contrary to a statement issued from the Ossining Mayor’s Office, local police received prior notification that ICE would be in the local area conducting targeted enforcement actions," she said.
People have come together to support allowing Puma Macancela to stay in the US and finish his studies.
The Ossing HS superintendent also released a statement that welcomes Puma Macancela to finish his finals and graduate, if an appeal is granted.