355 Days After He Was Detained, and Weeks After Recovering From COVID-19, a DACA Poster Child Is Released

Mother Jones illustration; courtesy of Sylvia Baldenegro

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

On Tuesday night, less than two weeks after I wrote about Carlos Martinez, a literal poster child for DACA who had spent the last 11 months at the Eloy Detention Center—where he lost DACA and fell ill with COVID-19—he was released from ICE custody. Martinez made his release public Wednesday on Facebook by posting photos with his parents at their Tucson, Arizona, home:

Thank you God!!! After spending my last 355 days in an Immigration detention center, I am finally free and back home with my family. After 30 years living in The United States fighting for a Green Card, I have won my case and it is an honor to be called United States Permanent Resident. God works in mysterious ways.

Martinez was one of the first people in Arizona to get DACA back in 2012. That year and again in 2015, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) brought a large poster-board portrait of Martinez to the Senate floor to help illustrate the need to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from Republican efforts to kill it. Martinez, 38, has been living in the United States since he was 8 years old. He came with his brother and his parents. He excelled in school, got multiple degrees from the University of Arizona in computer engineering, and worked for IBM. When I spoke to his parents for the story, his father’s words stuck with me: “I felt so proud to see my son graduating from the university. Imagine how that feels as a parent—it was beautiful to see my two sons graduate. And now it’s too painful to go to this jail and see my son in a brown uniform with all the other people in prison. Imagine that.”

And this whole nightmare happened because of a poorly thought-out decision to take a brief detour into Mexico last August. Martinez drove south to his grandmother’s hometown, realized what a big deal it was that he left the United States, and 45 minutes later he was back at the port of entry trying to explain what had happened. 

Last time I talked with Martinez, he’d called me from inside the ICE detention facility and told me he wasn’t giving up. I tried calling his parents house on Wednesday to see if I could catch him and hear how he was feeling, but nobody answered. I guess they do have a lot going on at the house right now.

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate