Image ©John Branch for the Rivard Report, 2017.

Josué Romero, a Southwest School of Art student given temporary legal status by former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), was arrested on charges of possessing a small amount of marijuana Wednesday.

Romero was transferred to the Bexar County jail and later handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

“They told me that DACA didn’t matter, that I was going to get deported anyway and that under the Trump administration there are no second chances,” the 19-year-old told reporters over the phone Thursday, shortly after being released from two days in custody.

DACA is a program that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children from deportation and grants them renewable two-year work permits.

Romero and his father José are originally from Honduras, but came to the U.S. in 2003 when Romero was 6 years old. “He doesn’t know Honduras or anyone there,” his father said prior to the emotional reunion with his son.

Romero attended SAY Sí, a nonprofit after-school arts program, where teachers, friends, and educators called him a talented young artist and model student.

“He poses no threat to our security or safety,” U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) stated in a Thursday press release. “The only threat to safety is what may well happen to him personally if he is deported to Honduras. The Administration has not yet announced any change in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. I would respectfully urge that this official policy not be changed on a case by case basis for individuals who may not be perfect but who are making a perfectly good contribution to our community.”

Romero’s arrest puts a local face to the national issue of immigration, which has intensified since President Donald Trump took office in January. Reports of sweeping immigration raids and widespread fear of deportation have caused turmoil in local communities across the country, now including San Antonio.

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John Branch

Cartoonist John Branch has commented on San Antonio and Texas politics for decades; his work is syndicated nationally by King Features.