• Pittsburghers rally for immigration policy changes after resident arrested, slated for deportation

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    PITTSBURGH - A Pittsburgh community is taking aim at immigration policies after a Brookline resident was arrested and slated for deportation.
     
    The day before immigration officers picked up Martin Esquivel-Hernandez in May, he was marching for immigrants’ rights in the city’s Brookline and Beechview neighborhoods. Now, his friends and family members are fighting to save Esquivel-Hernandez, who they say is a leader in Pittsburgh’s Latino community.
     
    Guillermo Perez, with the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and members of the city’s Latino community led a silent prayer Friday outside the federal courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh in honor of Esquivel-Hernandez. 
     
    "This is why we have to win this campaign. Martin is a huge asset to his family and this community,” Perez said.
     
    Esquivel-Hernandez is an undocumented immigrant who came to the United States to escape violence in Mexico City. A few days after he was pulled over for not having a proper driver’s license, Esquivel-Hernandez was taken from his Pittsburgh home by immigration and customs enforcement officers. He now faces deportation. 
     
    "I will fight, and I will do anything to have my family in a better place. That's exactly what he tried to do,” Esquivel-Hernandez’s friend, Horacio Ruiz, said.
     
    Horacio Ruiz and Monica Ruiz told Channel 11 News that Esquivel-Hernandez tried to reunite with his wife and daughter legally in the U.S., but he got nowhere. The family eventually came to Pittsburgh, where, the Ruizs said, Esquivel-Hernandez became a leader in the Latino community.
     
    "He's not committing any crimes. He goes to work every day. He attends his kid’s school functions. That's not somebody hiding under a rock, avoiding captivity or whatever,” Monica Ruiz said.
     
    The Department of Homeland Security prioritizes deportations based on threats to national security and public safety, which do not appear to apply to Esquivel-Hernandez.
     
    The U.S. attorney’s office prosecuting Esquivel-Hernandez’s case declined to comment. 
     
    Esquivel-Hernandez is being held in a Youngstown prison and won’t have another hearing until September.
     
    His supporters said they will make their voices heard and continue to fight for Esquivel-Hernandez’s freedom.
     
    A spokesman for Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s office confirmed the mayor helped Esquivel-Hernandez find an immigration lawyer and set up a meeting between his family and the U.S. attorney’s office to discuss the case.
     
    A trial date is expected to be set next month. 

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