PLANTATION — Established in 2002 in response to the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is charged with keeping American citizens safe. Its agency known as ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) wants the public to know that its contractors, including the Glades County Sheriff’s Office, are holding certain immigrants at three detention centers in South Florida for very good reason.
On June 10, the Lake Okeechobee News reported about the demonstration and news conference that occurred outside the ICE field office in Planatation on Tuesday in protest of detainees being held at the Glades County Detention Center (GCDC) in Moore Haven despite alleged outbreaks of COVID-19 among the inmates and staff — and apparently despite a federal court order. The fiancée of GCDC detainee Roberto Martinez-Leon, who’s tested positive, appeared to plead for his and others’ release from custody.
ICE spokesman Nestor J. Yglesias would issue only a brief statement earlier in response to inquiries, saying the agency could not comment because his case was a subject of current litigation.
However, when the article “Is COVID-19 spreading at Glades County jail?” appeared online on lakeokeechobeenews.com and named that particular ICE detainee at GCDC, authorities in Washington, D.C., cleared Mr. Yglesias to release this statement:
“Roberto Martinez-Leon, 53, an unlawfully present Cuban national and a convicted murderer, was taken into U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) custody April 14, 2020, following his release from state prison in Florida.
“Martinez was sentenced to life in Florida Department of Corrections custody in October 1988 following his convictions for first degree murder with a firearm, conspiracy to commit cocaine trafficking and conspiracy to commit robbery. Subsequently, in March 1991, an immigration judge ordered Martinez-Leon be removed from the U.S. to Cuba following his release from prison.
“Martinez-Leon is currently in ICE custody pending his removal from the U.S. in accordance with federal law and the order of a federal immigration judge. Due to Martinez-Leon’s serious criminal history, he is subject to mandatory detention under federal law as passed by Congress.”
ICE normally never comments on individual cases but made an exception in this case. Only a handful of ICE detainees in Florida have been released after a Miami U.S. district judge issued a finding in related lawsuits in May. ICE states off the record that other detainees’ cases are similar to Martinez-Leon’s, involving serious crimes and deportation orders.
Read more about COVID spreading at Glades County Jail https://lakeokeechobeenews.com/community-news/is-covid-19-spreading-at-glades-county-jail/