Immigrant rights activist Alexi Cruz released from El Paso detention center

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Daniel Borunda

A San Antonio immigrant rights activist who possibly faced deportation was released Wednesday night from an El Paso detention center hours after a protest.

A dozen protesters earlier in the evening had demanded Alexi Cruz be freed during a small rally across Hawkins Boulevard from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security building.

Cruz, 24, was detained last week by sheriff’s deputies and then handed to Immigration and Customs Enforcement after his car broke down in Lordsburg, N.M., activists said. Cruz was returning from a family emergency in Arizona.

Protesters alleged Cruz was the victim of racial profiling and was detained because he refused to answer when deputies asked him where he was born.

El Paso activist Cemelli de Aztlan, who helped organized the protest, said that Cruz was taken to catch a bus back to San Antonio after he was released from custody.

“This is a symptom of our immigration laws and the broken immigration system,” de Aztlan said at the protest.

Cruz came to the United States when he was 14 years old and immigrant advocates said that he shouldn’t be detained because he is eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for young undocumented immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” brought to the U.S. as children.

The Cruz case got the attention of U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, who on Monday wrote to Immigration and Customs Enforcement asking that Cruz be released.

Doggett stated in his letter that Cruz has no criminal record, does volunteer work and publishes “Tú San Antonio” magazine. Cruz has a common law wife and a 2-year-old daughter, who are both U.S. citizens.

Doggett asked ICE officials to “exercise prosecutorial discretion so that this young man may return to his family.”

Lorena Andrade took part in the protest that featured Aztec dancers who prayed for Cruz and other detained immigrants.

Cruz “has always supported his community where ever he has been, whether Arizona or here in the state of Texas,” Andrade said. “He supports immigrants. He supports his community.

“He has always fought for justice on both sides of the border,” she said. “It’s unfair that someone who supports his community is detained.”

Daniel Borunda may be reached at 546-6102.

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Immigrant rights activist Alexi Cruz released from El Paso detention center
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