KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The 12-year-old daughter of a man recently deported from Kansas City tried to meet with immigration officials Thursday to plead for her father's return from Mexico, but she and an advocacy group helping the family said they were turned away after being told no one was available after showing up unannounced.
Her father, Josue Noe Sandoval-Perez, was arrested on Jan. 16 on accusations that he was trying to cash in fake coins at a local grocery store. Local police notified U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement after discovering he was using a fake social security number and had been deported in the past. He was taken into ICE custody on Jan. 22 and deported nine days later.
Nayelly Sandoval, a middle school student and U.S. citizen, and her older brother and mother have been working with Communities Creating Opportunity, a Kansas City faith-based organization, to help their father. The group argues that Sandoval-Perez was a longstanding member of the community, had not been convicted of any crimes and should have been granted some leniency.
The group also says the family's case draws attention to struggles immigrants face if they're in the U.S. illegally and want to stay.
"I wanted to see why they did that to my dad," said Nayelly, whose family has lived in the area since 1998. "These people don't even care. They just wanted to get us out of there because they don't know what to do with us."
ICE has said Sandoval-Perez was considered a priority for removal from the U.S. because he had been deported once before and came back to the U.S. illegally, which is a felony.
When asked for comment Thursday, ICE said in a statement that Sandoval-Perez was removed "under a reinstatement of his prior order by an immigration judge," and that ICE continues "to work with Congress to enact commonsense immigration reform."
Police spokesman Capt. Tye Grant said Sandoval-Perez, who worked in a local metal scrap yard, first came to the attention of police in April 2013 when a grocery store became suspicious about "damaged" quarters Sandoval-Perez had been trying cash in. Grant said police tracked Sandoval-Perez, then arrested him in January.
Sandoval-Perez denies trying to pass fake coins, said Communities Creating Opportunity spokesman Andrew Kling, who joined Nayelly and her 17-year-old brother at the Kansas City ICE office Thursday. Kling said immigration laws didn't provide a clear pathway for Sandoval-Perez to apply for legal status.
CCO has also raised concerns that Sandoval-Perez was held in the Kansas City detention center for about a week and wasn't allowed to shower or change clothes, and was denied medical attention for "an infection." Grant acknowledged the center wasn't built for extended stays, but said its staff will accommodate the needs of anyone in the jail "no matter how long they are there."