CHICAGO (CBS)— A Crystal Lake high school senior is in ICE custody–in a jail seven hours from home.
18-year-old Meydi Guzman Rivas came to the United States fleeing gang violence, and now her community is fighting for her freedom, CBS 2’s Tara Molina reports.
Sara Huser was Meydi’s counselor at Crystal Lake Central High School, where she was on track to graduate in the spring.
Currently, Meydi is hundreds of miles away in the Pulaski County detention center, but her counselor and her community are still here making plans for her.
“She has a big heart, ” said Huser, who used to talk to Rivas about her dream of becoming a nurse.
Now she video chats with her from her detention center.
“She’s a child. She’s alone. And she’s sitting in jail.”
Going from high school counselor to power of attorney overnight.
“She’s one of my kids.”
Huser said she stepped up as a private citizen because Meydi didn’t have anyone else.
“I think when you see an injustice like this you step up and you have to do something. This child needs help now in a way I’ve never had to help a student before, but I’m going to do it.”
Meydi and her father fled Honduras after a gang threatened her life two years ago.
They were stopped by U.S. Border Patrol, but released contingent on regular appearances in Immigration Court. Both were seeking asylum through that process, but they were detained when they showed up at court for an appearance in October.
“The government alleges that they missed a hearing prior to that,” Huser said.
We do know Meydi and her father are in different detention centers.
Her new community is rallying around her with Facebook campaigns and a gofundme account.
“There is a community of people who are working to get her back home with us,” Huser said. “To get her back to school where she belongs.”
Attorneys who have taken the case at no charge say they are working on getting Meydi released while her case is pending.
In a statement, one the attorneys, Nathan Reyes, said: “Motions to reopen her removal proceeding have been filed, which has stayed her removal while the Immigration Court determines whether or not to grant the motion. If granted, we are hopeful that she will be released back into the community that cares for her and has been pulling for her since her detention.
“Meydi is a young woman fleeing violence who has found a home here in Crystal Lake, and we are proud to represent her and to do what we can to help her in her time of need.”
In a statement, an ICE spokesman said:
“Maydi Maryuri Guzman-Rivas, 18, is a citizen of Honduras who is illegally present in the United States. On Feb. 28, 2019, a federal immigration judge ordered Guzman-Rivas removed in absentia.
“On Oct. 16, 2019, deportation officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested Guzman-Rivas. She remains in ICE custody pending disposition of her immigration proceedings.
“On June 18, 2018, U.S. Border Patrol arrested Guzman-Rivas after she illegally entered the United States near Laredo, Texas. A week later, on June 25, 2018, she was released with orders to report to ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) field office in Chicago. “