Teenage Iowa student killed by gang three weeks after he was deported to Mexico by ICE
Manuel Antonio Cano Pachecho was reportedly brought to the United States without a visa by his family when he was just three years old
A student from Iowa high school who was reportedly sent back to Mexico by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents was killed by a Mexican gang just three weeks after he returned to his home country.
The 19-year-old boy, Manuel Antonio Cano Pacheco, was set to graduate from his high school in Des Moines in May, however, he was convicted of a misdemeanor drug charge last year and drew the attention of ICE agents, according to The Des Moines Register.
Pachecho was reportedly brought to the United States without a visa by his family when he was just three years old. The student, since then, had been protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, under President Barack Obama and was deemed a 'Dreamer.'
After Pachecho's conviction, a judge vacated his protections, making way for ICE agents to deport him. ICE said that Pacheco had also been convicted of driving under the influence while awaiting his hearing.
An ICE spokesperson, Shawn Neudauer, while speaking to The Hill, said: "Based on his criminal convictions, his DACA status was terminated making him amenable to deportation."
ICE reportedly said that the teenager had requested a voluntary departure to return to Mexico "under safeguards" while his immigration hearing was pending. Reports state that leaving the country voluntarily carries less stiff penalties than a formal deportation. The Hill reported that the teenager would have been allowed to return legally to the US with a visa.
The student returned to Zacatecas in Mexico on April 24 along with an escort from ICE. It was later reported that when Pacheco, three weeks after his return, went out to get food with a friend of his cousin, both of them were killed by a gang. The teenager was reportedly found with his throat slit.
The teenager's friend, Juan Verduzco, at his memorial service earlier this month, said: "He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I kind of don’t believe it still. It still hasn’t hit me... I don’t understand," The Register reported.
Verduzco said that Pacheco suffered from depression and drinking issues ever since his father was sent to prison several years ago. He, however, described the teenager as upbeat and always smiling.
President Donald Trump, in September, moved to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and gave six months times to Congress to come up with a replacement program for the 800,000 Dreamers in the country.
The Republican has also cracked down hard on immigration in the country as he announced his "zero-tolerance" policy towards illegal immigration, which includes separating children from the parents at the border. The policy, however, has received wide criticism from activists and lawmakers.