Community leader hopes to bring relief to immigrants waiting outside Orlando ICE office

The president of Latino Leadership is passing out food, water to people waiting in line

Some are calling it an inhumane situation. At least 250 people, including small children, were seen waiting under the sun for hours, and in some cases, having to sleep two or three nights outside an Orlando Immigration and Customs Enforcement office — all waiting to be seen by an immigration official.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Marytza Sanz, president of Latino Leadership, a nonprofit organization, recently found out about the conditions immigrants from Haiti, Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela and Honduras, among others, are facing outside an Orlando Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

“When you see this, it doesn’t seem like you are in the United States. This is something that maybe happens in other countries,” said Sanz, a native of Puerto Rico. “I have never seen in my 30-something years living in Orlando something so sad like this.”

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Hundreds of people have had to wait up to several days to be seen by an immigration officer after they crossed the U.S-Mexico border and were given appointments to present themselves. Many of them have been sleeping overnight on the sidewalk or in their cars.

Jean, an immigrant from Haiti, had an appointment for April 15 and has yet to enter this ICE office.

“Nothing has happened, so I’m always coming here. Last night I coming at 10 o’clock,” said Jean, who crossed the border with his wife and 3-year-old daughter.

After Sanz witnessed how bad the situation had gotten, she told News 6 she now hopes to get results by doing her part.

“What we are organizing is something that we can bring them. Some food and water to them,” Sanz said.

She told News 6 she expects local elected officials to also take action.

“They should know what is happening in their own community. They should not wait for me as a president of a nonprofit organization to tell them what is happening in their backyard,” she said. “They have assistance, they have people that they can come and see and take action. Because this is not something for tomorrow. It’s something for today.”

Representatives Darren Soto and Stephanie Murphy sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, and Acting Director for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Tae D. Johnson, requesting they intervene.

View the full letter below:


About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.