Florencio Millan borrowed a phone to call home from the other side of the border Wednesday night, according to Cheyenne Hoyt, his girlfriend and the mother of their two children.
He’d been deported to Mexico, two days after being arrested by ICE agents in front of his family near their Kansas City home.
The arrest, captured in a widely viewed video taken by his girlfriend Hoyt, drew attention from activists and elected officials who questioned the actions of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and the involvement of local Kansas City police.
The recording shows an ICE agent breaking out the couple’s car window with their two children in the backseat as the agents arrested 32-year-old Millan in the 4000 block of Harvard Lane.
After his arrest and removal, Hoyt said, Millan was taken to a town across the border from Brownsville, Texas.
“It happened Monday and he’s gone,” she said.
ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer confirmed that deportation officers removed Millan about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday through the Brownsville port of entry.
When Millan called Hoyt Wednesday, he “just wanted to say sorry to the kids,” she said tearfully.
Hoyt said she was planning on taking some of Millan’s belongings to him Wednesday, but he had already been transported to a secondary location.
“He has nothing down there with him,” Hoyt said.
Members of Advocates for Immigrants Rights and Reconciliation, a Kansas City group that supports rights for immigrants, condemned Millan’s deportation.
“This is further evidence that the Administration’s policy now seems to be ‘detain them, dump them over the border and forget the consequences to those left behind,’” the organization said in a statement.
“This is a very ‘un-American’ approach to solving problems created by our own impractical and broken immigration system.”
When Millan was arrested, he was taken to a detention center in Morgan County.
On Tuesday, advocates gathered in support of Millan and Hoyt. They have two children, ages 11 and 7 months.
Hoyt broke down Tuesday as she recalled the arrest.
“That’s my family that the government is letting be ripped apart,” she said.
Activists criticized the level of force that was used to arrest Millan and questioned why Kansas City police assisted ICE.
Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith defended the police department’s actions, writing in a blog post that while it is not the department’s duty to enforce immigration laws, they are compelled by state statute to cooperate with federal agencies on matters related to enforcing immigration laws.
Smith said Kansas City police did not initiate the encounter with Millan’s family, did not physically remove him from the car and did not take him into custody — all actions performed by the ICE agents.
He said the Kansas City police officers made attempts to deescalate the situation.
The union representing Kansas City police also issued a statement defending the actions of the officers.
In the statement, the Fraternal Order of Police reiterated that officers are obligated to respond to requests for assistance from federal authorities.
The police union also said Millan “forced the federal agents to take necessary action to bring the matter to an end.”
Immigration attorney Michael Sharma-Crawford said the arrest became confusing because the agent wouldn’t confirm the name of the person they wanted or show Millan a copy of the order giving them authority to arrest him.
Sharma-Crawford said he understood that Millan was transferred on a Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System plane Wednesday morning.
Millan likely did not appear before a judge before he was deported, because he has a prior removal order, Sharma-Crawford said.
In 2011, Millan voluntarily complied with a departure order.
About five days later, he returned to the U.S. from Mexico, according to ICE. He was caught and deported through an expedited removal order.
He returned again.
After Millan’s recent arrest, ICE said he was an “immigration fugitive” with prior misdemeanors. The agency declined to provide details of the alleged misdemeanor cases.
Kansas City Municipal Court records show the misdemeanor offenses stemmed from two traffic stops. The charges included speeding, improper lane use, careless driving, and other offenses related to license and registration.
When a prior removal order is reinstated, undocumented immigrants may be left with limited rights.
“As long as he doesn’t get any judicial review,” Sharma-Crawford said, “and he has no ability to raise those complaints about his treatment or about his potential constitutional violations, and he’s put on a plane in two days, these abuses have the potential to continue.”
Hoyt said there were other ways the situation could have been handled.
Her 11-year-old son is “taking it hard,” she said, and is scared she will be taken next. Hoyt and her children are citizens.
She questioned America’s values.
“If you’re not born here, you’re not welcome here and that’s not what we were taught and that’s not what my kids are being taught and it’s just not right,” she said. “It’s not.”
Sharma-Crawford said the country needs comprehensive immigration reform.
“There’s a humane way to solve this,” he said. “We’ve politicized it to the point where we’re paralyzed which then harms families like these.”
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, also expressed support for reform. In a statement Tuesday, Cleaver placed blame on President Donald Trump, saying he has stoked fear and demonized immigrants.
Mayor Sly James called Trump’s beliefs “hate-filled,” and said Kansas City welcomes everyone.