High School Student's Doodle Leads to Deportation

Alex drew a devil with horns, the school mascot; ICE deemed it gang activity
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2019 10:05 AM CST
His High School Doodle Got Him Deported
Stock photo.   (Getty/BrianAJackson)

Alex attended Huntington High School on Long Island, and he committed three big sins in the eyes of the authorities: He once wore blue sneakers to the school, he wrote "504" on his school bag and on a school calculator, and he doodled a devil with horns on his bag. As ProPublica reports, authorities decided all three actions suggested that Alex was affiliated with the notorious MS-13 gang. They didn't believe his explanations: The shoes were a gift from his mother, never worn again after school security guards told him the color was linked to MS-13; "504" wasn't for a gang, it was to show pride in his native Honduras, where those numbers are the country code; and as for the devil with horns, well, that may be used by MS-13, but it also happens to be the high school mascot.

Despite his protestations of innocence, Alex ended up being deported to Honduras, much to the devastation of his parents on Long Island. As it turns out, Alex was one of several students arrested under a program known as Operation Matador, in which police departments share information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. In the students' cases, the damning information originated with school resource officers, whose reports were funneled up the chain of command, eventually landing on the desk of ICE. One day after the ProPublica investigation was published, the Huntington Union Free School District said it's formally reviewing its agreement with the Suffolk County Police Department in regard to the role of school resource officers. Click to read the full story. (More Longform stories.)

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