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Group protests after woman says immigration officials detained husband

More than two dozen protesters held a rally Thursday night in front of a federal building in downtown Austin after a woman contacted an Austin immigration support group and told them federal immigration officials had detained her husband during a traffic stop in Southeast Austin.

Reyna Alvarado said her husband, Francisco Alvarado, was pulled over by federal officials on Riverside Drive near Wickersham Lane around 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

He is currently detained, though she was unsure where, Reyna Alvarado said. He told her wife on the phone that he is likely to be deported, she said.

Immigration officials told her that her husband had not shown up to an immigration court in San Antonio, she said. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

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The Alvarados came to Austin from Honduras 10 years ago, Reyna Alvarado said. Her husband, who is undocumented, does landscaping work.

This month, newly-elected Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez changed the county jail’s policy regarding federal agents’ requests to detain inmates suspected of being in the country illegally.

Since Hernandez’s policy began, several Austin immigration activist groups have been concerned that federal immigration agents will increase operations to seek out and deport undocumented immigrants in Austin.

Reyna Alvarado said through a translator that she and Francisco had fled Honduras with their daughter because the “Maras” — a gang that was born in the U.S. and now has a heavy presence in Central America — had killed several of her family members.

“What do I do now?” Reyna Alvarado said through a translator. “I had to go to school and tell my daughter that they’ve taken her father away.”

The group ICE Out of Austin gathered Thursday night in front of the J.J. “Jake” Pickle Federal Building, at 300 Eighth St., to protest Francisco Alvarado’s detention.

“Our community feels that we are under attack,” said Alejandro Caceres, who founded the group. “We don’t think that anyone should be deported.”

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