Florencio Millan, the undocumented Mexican immigrant whom immigration agents dragged out of his car after breaking its window, was deported to Mexico on Wednesday just two days after he was arrested.
Cheyenne Hoyt, his girlfriend and the mother of his two children, told KCUR that Millan called her Wednesday evening and said he had been flown to Brownsville, Texas, and then transported just over the border to Matamoros, Mexico.
She said he had no cash with him and only the clothes he was wearing.
“I was on my way to give him a backpack of some other clothes and his phone, but he has nothing down there,” Hoyt said tearfully. “He just has the pair of shoes he has and the clothes he had on that day.”
After his arrest Monday morning, which was live-streamed on Facebook, Millan was taken by Immigration Customs and Enforcement agents to a holding facility near Kansas City International Airport and then transported to the Morgan County, Missouri, jail.
Hoyt said she received a call Wednesday morning from another inmate at the jail telling her that Millan had been removed from the facility, but the inmate didn’t know where he had been taken.
“And then about 7 o’clock that night, I got a phone call from him and he told me that he was in Mexico already,” she said.
In an emailed statement, ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said: “At about 6:30 p.m. on July 24, 2019, deportation officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed Florencio Millan-Vazquez, 32, to Mexico via the Brownsville, Texas, port of entry. This was his second removal (deportation) from the United States.”
Millan, 32, came to the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant 19 years ago when he was 13 years old. He worked as a chef at a local restaurant and was the sole breadwinner for Hoyt and their two young children.
In 2011, an immigration judge granted him voluntary departure and Millan complied, returning to Mexico. But ICE says he illegally re-entered the U.S. five days later under an assumed name.
ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said on Monday that an expedited removal order had been issued for Millan, which led to his arrest.
The circumstances of that arrest have stirred outrage among immigration and community activists.
Millan and Hoyt were in their car with their two children, an 11-year-old boy and 7-month-old daughter, seated in the back. They were leaving their apartment in east Kansas City to take their daughter, who is severely disabled, to a doctor’s appointment when ICE agents used their vehicles to block the car.
Hoyt began streaming the incident live on Facebook shortly after that. The video had been viewed about 1.1 million times as of Thursday morning.
The video shows one of the agents telling Millan he has a warrant for his arrest, but when Millan and Hoyt ask to see it, he does not show it. Millan refuses to emerge from the car, and the agents call Kansas City police for assistance. After they arrive, one of the policemen repeatedly tells Millan, who is in the driver’s seat, to roll down his window or else he will break the window.
About 21 minutes into the video, one of the ICE agents smashes the window, pulls Millan out of the car and pushes him face down to the ground where, with the assistance of police officers, he’s handcuffed.
On Wednesday, Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith, responding to the furor over his department’s involvement, wrote on his blog that Missouri law requires police to assist immigration officials when asked.
The requirement is part of a law enacted in 2009 banning sanctuary cities in Missouri.
Smith said that police do not engage in “proactive immigration enforcement.”
Hoyt, who is an American citizen, said her 11-year-old son is traumatized by the incident and by his father’s abrupt seizure. She said he was refusing to leave their home.
Hoyt said Millan briefly spoke to his son on Monday before he was deported.
“He told his son that he loved him, he told him to be good and to be strong,” she said. “I thought we were going to have a little more time. We were planning to see him on Sunday because at Morgan County that’s the only day you’re allowed to visit.
“I mean to know that they took him almost in the middle of the night without anybody knowing it,” she said. “It really upsets me. They didn’t inform us of anything, they didn’t inform his lawyer. The lawyer didn’t know where he was or anything.”
Supporters of the family are raising funds for the family on Facebook to help cover their household and legal costs. More than $10,000 had been raised as of midday Thursday.
This story was updated to include a statement from an ICE spokesman.
Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.
Laura Ziegler is a community engagement reporter at KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @laurazig or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.