RICHARDSON, Texas - An undocumented college student allowed to stay in the U.S. under a special program says he was unfairly held in jail overnight.
Erwin Romero says his friend paid to lift a bond on traffic warrants. But he says he was held hours longer because of a mysterious ICE hold.
Romero was picked up along Arapho Road Tuesday night in Richardson on traffic warrants. He says even after a friend posted bond, he was kept in jail on an immigration hold and still doesn't know why.
Ahead of a planned protest over his arrest, Richardson police released Romero. Supporters met in Dallas to ask what happened.
“I knew that my community, my friends were gonna act,” Romero said. “I knew they had my back.”
“He has no outstanding immigration deportation order, nothing that would cause any concern,” said attorney Michelle Garza-Pareja with the Refugee and Immigration Center for Education and Legal Services. “He should have been released immediately.”
Romero says he is in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which allows undocumented young people brought into the country when they were children to get a drivers license, work permit and defer deportation.
Much has been made over what would happen to DACA since President Donald Trump took office. On Tuesday, his administration announced it would leave the program intact for now.
Romero says despite what the president said, he was still held in jail longer because of an ICE hold.
“Being there not knowing what's going to happen next, it's a horrible feeling in itself,” he said. “Whenever my friend told me, ‘They haven't released you because there's an immigration hold.’ Right there, I couldn't hold back my tears.”
ICE’s spokesperson in Dallas did not respond to FOX 4’s requests for information. But Richardson police confirm an officer pulled Romero over in a car with expired registration and learned he had warrants for two unpaid traffic fines.
At the jail, Romero was asked about his birthplace and citizenship. Richardson police say they're standard questions and that it’s standard to notify ICE if a non-citizen is in their jail.
Richardson PD says ICE asked them to hold Romero. But the department later determined the hold was not related to a felony and released him.
Romero's supporters say they are concerned others in the DACA program could face more scrutiny.
“I know that as a community, we can inform our people about their rights, about everyone's rights so we'll be ready,” he said.
Romero had warrants for two unpaid traffic fines: failure to show insurance and expired registration. He says he couldn't afford to pay the fines.
Romero was stopped a little before 11 p.m. Tuesday night and was released at around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. He did not receive any new citations.