Dozens rally in support of MIT janitor ordered by ICE to leave country

BOSTON (WHDH) — Dozens turned out in a show of support Thursday for a janitor at MIT who faces deportation.

Activists sang as they walked MIT janitor Francisco Rodriguez to the door of the federal immigration offices in Burlington. Moments after, he was detained by immigration and customs enforcement.

“I’m not a criminal. I’m a father who supports my family. I follow with the rules. The only mistake that I made is I came the way that I came,” Rodriguez told 7News.

Rodriguez, a native of El Salvador, says he’s afraid to return. He has been living and working in America for 10 years, and for the last five at MIT.

Every year he has checked in with ICE, and for years, they have granted him stays. This year, he was told to show up to his appointment with a ticket to El Salvador.

Rodriguez’s lawyer is now taking aim at the Trump administration.

“Candidate Trump promised us bad hombres and this is what we’re getting. We’re getting fathers, we’re getting mothers, we’re getting brothers and sisters and children being deported,” attorney Matt Cameron told 7News.

The college released a statement, reading, “MIT President Reif and senior leaders join fellow MIT community members in supporting Mr. Rodriguez’s request to stay in this country so he can continue to be part of the MIT community and remain with his family and friends.”

Rodriguez’s supporters also include Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Ed Markey and Congressman Mike Capuano.

Speaking through a translator, Rodriguez’s mother says it will be tough to explain the deportation to his two daughters.

“At this moment she feels really torn apart in her heart that her son was unjustly taken,” the woman told 7News.

ICE issued the following statement on their decision:

“On June 13, Francisco Rodriguez-Guardado, an unlawfully present citizen of El Salvador, reported to the ICE office in Boston, per prior agreement. An immigration judge issued Mr. Rodriguez a final order of removal in 2009. Since then, he has been granted four stays of removal so he could pursue available legal remedies.

After reviewing his case, ICE chose not to place him in custody, allowing him to make timely departure arrangements.

After he failed to do so, he was placed into ICE custody today, where he’ll remain pending removal from the U.S.”

Rodriguez has been taken into custody pending deportation. His attorney says he could be deported at anytime within the next 30 days.

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