Margarito Silva and his wife, Concepcion Barrios, were visiting their family at the Fort Drum military base on 4 July when they were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The couple – both of whom are undocumented – were transferred to an immigrant detention centre nearly 200 miles away, where they remain in ICE custody.
The couple’s daughter, Perla Silva, issued an impassioned cry for their release, saying they were both recovering from recent surgeries and had doctor’s appointments scheduled in the coming days.
“My parents are both ill and in need of a lot of medical attention … Who can assure us that they’re being taken care of the way that they need to be?” a visibly emotional Ms Silva asked at a press conference.
“We can’t wait any longer. We can’t have them sit around in there anymore,” she added.
A spokesperson for the military base said the couple were taken into custody after failing to present a valid form of identification.
Both Mr Silva and Ms Barrios carried New York City identification cards, also known as IDNYC, which are available to residents of the city regardless of immigration status.
The pair had used their IDNYC cards to visit family on other military bases before, their daughter said. But when they presented their cards at Fort Durm, officials claimed, they did not have the barcodes necessary to gain access.
“The barcode brings us a photo of the individual that we can check against the ID and the person presenting it,” army spokeswoman Julie Halpin told NBC New York. “NYC IDs do not have this bar code.”
When the couple was unable to provide documentation of legal entry into the US, Ms Halprin said, security personnel contacted ICE. The couple admitted to residing illegally in the country and were charged with being present in the US without admission or parole, a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson told ABC News.
This is not the first time an undocumented immigrant has been taken into custody after presenting their IDNYC card. New York resident Pablo Villavicencio was detained while delivering a pizza to the Hamilton army base in New York City last month, after presenting his identification card at the gate.
Local politicians said Mr Villavicencio had used the card to enter the same military base without issue in the past. New York governor Andrew Cuomo wrote an open letter to ICE demanding Mr Villavicencio’s release and requesting an investigation into “apparent profiling by ICE agents” last month.
Mr Cuomo also spoke out about Mr Silva and Ms Barrios’ case on Monday, tweeting that they would be provided a pro-bono lawyer to “combat this injustice”.
“Detaining a hardworking couple visiting their patriot son-in-law on the Fourth of July goes against everything this country stands for,” he wrote.