Family asking community to help keep dad in country

Photo caption: Alexia Hernandez speaks Tuesday at the Allen County Courthouse, calling for community support for her father, Santos Hernandez, as he faces deportation proceedings.

By Ashley Sloboda, The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne)
Aug. 26, 2020

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A daughter of a Fort Wayne man awaiting deportation proceedings made an impassioned plea on the Allen County Courthouse steps Tuesday.

Alexia Hernandez, who stood with family and Faith in Indiana representatives, asked the community to contact immigration officials in support of her father, whom she described as a humble, selfless, ambitious, joyful man.

Santos Hernandez – an independent subcontractor in Fort Wayne and a parishioner of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church – is facing deportation proceedings after a traffic charge in May, according to Faith in Indiana, the group behind the “Free Santos” vigil at a courthouse door along Main Street.

“My dad, yes, made a mistake,” said Alexia Hernandez, 25. “He left the scene without notice but harmed nobody but material, a light pole which he paid for.”

Along with seeking the community’s help in releasing her father, Alexia Hernandez said her family – which includes a 20-year-old brother and 16-year-old sister – hope to raise awareness of immigration and deportation, topics frequently pushed aside.

“Enough is enough, and we’re tired,” she said. “Whether it be Hispanics, Latinos, Blacks, people of color, we are tired.”

Max Ortega of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church described Santos Hernandez as a family man with values and faith.

“They should be bringing more people like him,” Ortega said. “They should not be sending him away.”

Faith in Indiana has started a petition on his behalf and hopes to get 500 signatures before 10 a.m. Thursday, the day of his immigration hearing, said Audrey Davis of the organization. The petition is at bit.ly/freesantos.
Davis called on Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux to stop working with immigration officials.

“Today, we know that we are right outside of Sheriff Gladieux’s office, the one person that’s keeping this system in place,” Davis said. 

The Allen County Sheriff’s Department doesn’t take an active role in contacting immigration officials, Cpl. Adam Griffith said.

Federal agencies have access to the sheriff’s daily intake logs, he said, and they make decisions about who to put detainers on.

In the last two years, Faith in Indiana has accompanied more than 30 families statewide to prevent deportation. More recently, Faith in Allen County contributed to the release of Jorge Oliva from Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention after his June arrest at a Black Lives Matter protest.

asloboda@jg.net

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