An Iowa teen was murdered in Mexico just three weeks after ICE agents deported him from the U.S.
19-year-old Manuel Antonio Cano-Pacheco was a “Dreamer” who was sent back to Mexico despite living in America since the age of 3-years-old. He was set to graduate high school in Des Moines later this month but was pulled over by police for speeding last fall. The teen ended up getting deported in late April, the Des Moines Register reported.
However, just weeks after he arrived in the violent, gang-plagued region of Zacatecas, where he reportedly knew almost nobody, his throat was slit, according to the paper.
“He was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” his close friend, Juan Verduzco, 20, told the paper.
Under President Obama’s term, Cano-Pacheco qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a policy that prevented some undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from being deported, according to the Washington Post.
Students at Des Moines Central Campus High School say the teen was well-liked. He had a job installing floors, and had a passion for car mechanic that helped earn him a scholarship at a school in Chicago, Verduzco said. However, after his father was sent to prison on drug charges three years ago, things took a turn for the worst.
“Things were going downhill. I didn’t know what to do about it,” Verduzco said — adding that his friend started drinking. “I think most of this is because of his dad,” Verduzco said. “That’s when his college stuff, his dreams went down the drain.”
ICE released a statement saying that a federal immigration judge terminated his DACA status after he caught two misdemeanor convictions, including a drug charge and driving while intoxicated.
ICE also says that after the teen was pulled over for speeding, he was escorted by deportation officers to Mexico in a “voluntary” departure process that does not carry the penalties of a formal deportation. They said he would have been allowed to return to the U.S. with a legal visa.
“Based on his criminal convictions, his DACA status was terminated making him amenable to deportation,” ICE said. “[He] was granted voluntary departure, ‘under safeguards,’ by a federal immigration judge.”
While in the north-central state of Zacatecas, Cano-Pacheco went out to get food with his cousin’s friend. Both were killed during the attack.
Verduzco remains heartbroken over the loss of his friend.
“I kind of don’t believe it still,” Verduzco said. “I don’t understand.”
Take a look at Cano-Pacheco below and some ICE protests from recent times.