Birthdays are memorable, and for Erik Javier Flores Hernandez, his 18th birthday was, unfortunately, something he'll never forget.

On his 18th birthday, Flores Hernandez was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the youth shelter where he was staying.

ICE arrested undocumented immigrant on his 18th birthday
photo: Reuters

According to LAist, Flores Hernandez was 17 when he fled Mexico to escape abuse from his father and the violence in his hometown; both his mother and grandmother were abducted by drug traffickers when he was younger.   

Because he had entered into the United States unaccompanied by an adult, he was placed in a children's center in Los Angeles. While he remained in the youth home, lawyers from the Immigrant Defenders Law Center helped him apply for asylum and fought his deportation case; he had no criminal history. 

Unfortunately this wasn't enough, and now he's at the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange County, as The Huffington Post reports

After Flores Hernandez was shackled and detained, the Immigrant Defenders Law Center urged people to call ICE to have him released.

The center's executive Director Lindsay Toczylowski told LAist that they had been in constant communication with ICE leading up to his arrest. Although Toczylowski explained how traumatizing this would be, given his damaging past, ICE said that it was their policy to detain undocumented immigrants after they turn 18. 

Toczylowski explained to Univison just how rare his arrest was and said, “We had never seen a detention like this of a minor turning 18, without a criminal record, and with a pending asylum case.”

The Facebook post described the teen's situation, noting that he had legal representation and people who were willing to sponsor him. The call to action included a sample script for people to call on behalf of his case,

"My name is XXXX and I am calling on behalf of Erik Javier Flores Hernandez to ask that he be released from ICE custody immediately. Erik came to the US as an unaccompanied minor and an asylum seeker. Erik is entitled to fight his case in court, and there is no reason that he should have to do so from inside an adult detention facility. Detaining traumatized unaccompanied minors in adult detention facilities upon their 18th birthday serves no governmental interest and does not reflect American values. We should welcome child refugees, not further traumatize them!"

An ICE spokesperson released a statement that about his arrest, pointing out that he could not "appropriately" stay at the youth shelter.

The statement provided to LAist said,

"Individuals being housed in centers operated by the Department of Health and Human Services that are designed to hold unaccompanied alien children may not appropriately remain in those facilities once they reach age 18, as Mr. Flores now has. Accordingly, he was transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody Saturday and will be moved to a facility used to house immigration detainees who are 18 and older. ICE is currently reviewing the circumstances of Mr. Flores’ case to determine appropriate next steps. At this time, his immigration proceedings are ongoing before the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review."

As enraging as his case may be, it's just one of the many changes to immigrations protocol under president Trump.

Immigration lawyer David Leopold highlighted how this case could become the norm for minors and told Huffington Post, "There’s nothing about this arrest that serves any rational policy in the United States government. Period. It’s cruel, baseless, mean-spirited, ugly ― it’s just wrong."

The next hearing for Florez Hernandez's asylum case is scheduled for late May.