ICE detains Ossining High School student on day of his prom

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Sunday, June 11, 2017
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Josh Einiger has the details on the student detained on the day of his prom.

OSSINING, New York (WABC) -- An Ossining High School senior was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on the day of his prom, and now, the illegal immigrant will be deported to Ecuador just weeks before he was set to graduate.

It was a moment of dread just after sunrise Thursday, when men with vests knocked on the door.

"My cousin came to my door, and he was knocking, saying the police are there outside, coming for me," cousin Gabby Macancela said. "And he was really scared."

Federal immigration agents came for 19-year-old Diego Macancela, a teen from Ecuador captured entering the country illegally two years ago and ordered by a judge to leave. But when he didn't, the feds arrived in the sleepy village to pick him up.

"(They were) saying that if Diego doesn't come out of the house, they're going to take all of us," Gabby Macancela said.

Mayor Victoria Gearity lives right across the street and watched the scene unfold.

"Hey, there's men in bulletproof vests with guns running around my neighbor's property," she said.

She said her police department was unaware immigration authorities had been targeting that address, and in a town increasingly dominated by immigrants, she says this type of enforcement has a chilling effect on local policing.

"It's tough to distinguish between local law enforcement and federal agents, and if people think they can't go to police for help, then crimes go unreported and people won't help with investigations," she said. "And that's what makes the whole community less safe."

It's a lesson Gabby Macancela is learning.

"I don't know why they were there," she said. "We heard them inside. They were laughing. They couldn't feel our fear, how we were feeling inside."

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they did notify local police that they were in town, but it turns out they gave the wrong address. That's why local police wound up caught off guard.

As for Diego Macancela, he is now in a federal lockup in north Jersey, on his way back home to Ecuador.