According to a report from the Associated Press, an 18 year old unpaid intern for New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez was detained by the US Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) last week. Luis Abrahan Sanchez Zavaleta, an immigrant from Peru, was arrested in front of his home in New Jersey and now faces deportation.
Sanchez was prosecuted in 2010 by Hudson County and was required to register as a sex offender. Because he was a minor at the time of prosecution, his court record is not available so we don’t know exactly what he was charged with. Additionally, a criminal offense like this would make Sanchez ineligible for deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), which is the program implemented by the Obama administration that provides relief for undocumented youth.
The AP report says that the intern applied for relief under the DACA program and upon reviewing his file, authorities found out about the sex offender status.
Senator Menendez has been a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform and is a member of the “gang of eight” on immigration reform, which is a group of senators who are advancing plans for mending the current immigration system.
In addressing the arrest of the intern, Senator Menendez took the opportunity to make the case for immigration reform saying, “It does speak volumes about why we need comprehensive immigration reform. I can’t know who is here to pursue the American dream versus who is here to do it damage if I cannot get people to come forth out of the shadows, go through criminal background checks and then determine who is here to pursue the dream and make sure that those who are here and have criminal backgrounds ultimately get deported.”