Las Vegas family fights to keep ICE from deporting their father

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Jennifer and Karen Martinez speak out about their father's recent arrest and detainment by ICE. Michael Kagan, the director of the UNLV Immigration Clinic, is representing them. (Photo: Michael Lyle)

Karen and Jennifer Martinez just want their father, Jesus Martinez Manon, back.

Speaking at a press conference Monday, his daughters, both United States citizens, failed at times to fight back tears as they spoke about their father who was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers Nov. 21 and detained at the Henderson Detention Center.

Martinez Manon, who has lived in the United States for 30 years, could be deported as soon as Tuesday according to the family. 

“Now, they want to send him back to somewhere he hasn’t called home in 30 years,” said Jennifer Martinez. She paused periodically through the sentence in order to make it through without crying. “Thanksgiving is coming and then Christmas. We just want our family together.”

Michael Kagan, the director of the UNLV Immigration Clinic, which is representing the family, couldn’t speak on the specifics of the case since the clinic is still collecting documentation. 

However, it is asking ICE to stop the deportation. 

“They are not required to detain him, and they’re not required to deport him,” Kagan said. “This is at their discretion and they have a choice to make about how they would like to treat this family. We are asking ICE to show decency to the Martinez family.”

Kagan wasn’t aware how or why ICE decided to arrest Martinez Manon. 

“According to relevant checks, Martinez Manon was previously removed to his home country of Mexico in June 2008,” said ICE spokesman Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe in a statement. “As a previously removed alien in receipt of a final order of removal, he will remain in ICE custody pending his removal to Mexico.”

Martinez Manon was picked up outside of the family’s Las Vegas home sometime early morning Nov. 21 as he was leaving for work.

In addition to fearing a quick deportation process, the family is also worried Martinez Manon isn’t receiving the proper medical treatment for diabetes and hypothyroidism at the detention center. Jennifer Martinez said ICE reached out to the family to get them to drop off medication. 

“We asked (our father) if he had received his medication and he said he hadn’t.” Jennifer Martinez said. “As far as I’m aware, he still hasn’t received them.” She hasn’t had an update since Saturday. 

ICE officials weren’t able to confirm Martinez Manon’s medical status at the time of publication.

From the documentation the immigration clinic has acquired, Kagan said Martinez Manon met with an immigration attorney at least a decade ago to try to figure out how to obtain legalized status. 

The Martinez family is speaking out after the father, Jesus Martinez Manon, was arrested by ICE.

The attorney Martinez Manon met with, Kagan added, gave “unethical legal advice that put him into this situation.” 

“It looks like an application was filed that shouldn’t have been without Jesus understanding what he was filing,” he said. “And one legal avenue that should have been pursued may not have been pursued.” 

Martinez Manon’s daughters said their father doesn’t have close ties in Mexico anymore since he hasn’t lived there in decades. “He met my mother here, and they started a family,” Jennifer Martinez said. “He built a life here and has property here.” 

Working construction, Martinez Manon is the sole provider of the household while Jennifer, a 23-year-old CSN student, and Karen, 24-year-old UNLV student, finish school. They also have a 17-year-old brother in high school they say isn’t coping well.

Kagan said the immigration clinic has represented students who have been struggling with the immigration system before. 

“We deal with cases like this regularly, and still there is something about this very shocking to see it touch students like Karen and Jennifer,” he said. 

Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.