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Edisson Barros and his daughter Paola at her high school graduation (GoFundMe)

A father of two and veteran New York City cab driver is scheduled to be deported back to his home country of Ecuador on Friday, after he was picked up by ICE following an altercation with a driver who nearly ran over his pet dog, according to family members.

A resident of Maspeth, Queens for nearly 25 years, Edisson Barros has been in custody at the Hudson Correctional Facility in New Jersey since July 16th, when he was detained by ICE agents after a court appearance. According to a GoFundMe set up by his daughter Paola, he’d been arrested by NYPD officers months earlier, after stopping an irresponsible driver from running over the family dog. Barros appeared in court to fight the summons, which was dismissed, but ICE picked him up after he left the courtroom.

“Despite New York City supposedly being a sanctuary city, information was shared and my father was handed over to ICE,” the 20-year-old daughter wrote. “He was the breadwinner, and he worked so many hours as a cab driver. Now I am the only source of income for my family, which includes my sister and mother.”

An NYPD spokesperson said that Barros was originally arrested for getting into a verbal dispute with a driver about his dog not being on a leash. He was charged with criminal mischief after throwing his keys at the driver’s car, police said, and received a desk appearance ticket. The spokesperson added that the NYPD does not conduct civil immigration enforcement (though police officials have admitted that low-level arrests can trigger deportation proceedings).

In an interview with Patch, Paolo Barros said that her father has been mistreated in detention, forced to take scalding showers and prevented from taking his diabetes medication. Carlos Jesus Calzadilla-Palacio, a spokesman for the family, reiterated those claims to Gothamist, saying that “the conditions are atrocious—he’s being threatened with solitary confinement, denied necessary medical care, and essentially tortured.” Calzadilla-Palacio, who also serves as the president of Young Progressives of America, has been organizing rallies protesting Barros’s detention throughout the past week.

“One of his children has a disability, and one of them would have to drop out of college,” he told Gothamist. “It’s going to cause undue hardship on the family—we can’t allow this.”

Local politicians are also beginning to take interest in the immigrant’s case. On Wednesday, Councilman Francisco Moya penned a letter urging Federal Immigration Judge Mirlande Tadal to stay the deportation.

“At the very least, and in the interest of justice, I ask that you halt the deportation long enough for his pending motions for a stay and to reopen his case have been processed,” the councilmember wrote. “He is a dedicated family man, working as a taxi driver to support his family…[and] an upstanding member of the his Queens community.”

“I urge Judge Mirlande Tadal to grant a stay of deportation for Mr. Barros and to release him from this Orwellian nightmare we call our immigration system,” echoed Councilman Carlos Menchaca in a statement, in which he also drew parallels to the case of Pablo Villavicencio, the delivery worker who was detained while bringing pizza to a military base in Bay Ridge. After public outcry, Villavicencio’s deportation was halted in June. He was eventually released from Hudson County Correctional and permitted to return to his wife and two young children.

“Just as New York City stood with Pablo Villavicencio, we stand now with Edisson Barros,” declared Menchaca. A rally is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday on the steps of City Hall.



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