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Jackson Heights Patch

Queens Father Held 20 Days In ICE Custody After Greyhound Ride

August 16, 2018 | by Danielle Woodward

The Jackson Heights immigrant was arrested after his bus unexpectedly crossed into Canada: “I got scared, but there was nothing I could do.”

JACKSON HEIGHTS, QUEENS — What was supposed to be a visit to his brother in Seattle turned into a 20-day nightmare for one Jackson Heights immigrant, who was arrested by ICE agents after he said his Greyhound bus made a surprise stop in Canada.

Alfredo Flores, a 36-year-old undocumented immigrant, was only recently reunited with his wife and three young children after he left them on July 15 for what he thought would be a month-long construction job across the country.

He didn’t know the bus would cross through Canada, claiming his brother had taken the same route and never crossed the border. When his bus unexpectedly rolled into Buffalo, he had no passport to show Canadian officials.

“I got scared, but there was nothing I could do,” Flores said during a press conference Wednesday.

Flores was turned over to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and held in a federal detention center while his family scrambled for funds to post his $10,000 bond.

His wife, Wendy Valverde, said she had been desperately seeking help from several aid groups when she was contacted by Catalina Cruz, a former Dreamer and Queens Democratic candidate for the state Assembly.

Cruz helped Valverde raise enough money to have Flores released and hire a lawyer.

“I didn’t know where else to turn, but luckily Catalina pointed be in the right direction,” Valverde said. “I’m relieved to have my husband back home.”

But while Flores’ return offers a temporary happy ending, the family still has an uphill battle ahead of them, Cruz said.

“He must still go through the court process and fight to stay with his U.S. citizen wife and children,” she said.

Cruz also said she believes Greyhound holds blame for the ordeal, and should be held responsible.

“I absolutely think that they should be protecting the folks that ride their buses,” she said.