Teenager from Iowa killed after ICE returns him to Mexico

Manuel Antonio Cano Pacheco came to America as a little boy and had a full life in Des Moines, Iowa, his mother said....

Posted: Jun 9, 2018 5:53 PM
Updated: Jun 9, 2018 5:53 PM

Manuel Antonio Cano Pacheco came to America as a little boy and had a full life in Des Moines, Iowa, his mother said. He had acquired DACA status, attended high school and had family -- three siblings and a 1-year-old son, she said.

"He was really happy in Iowa. It was the only home he knew," she said. "He loved school and loved soccer. On his days off from school he would work as a mechanic."

But Cano Pacheco ran afoul of the United States' changing immigration laws. On April 24, the 19-year-old was sent back to Mexico because of misdemeanor convictions, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Customs said.

Three weeks later, he died in a country he barely knew.

He was murdered in Zacatecas, the section of north-central Mexico where he'd gone to live, because "he was in the wrong place at the wrong time," his Iowa friend Juan Verduzco told The Des Moines Register. One of his acquaintances also was slain, Verduzco said.

Cano Pacheco was buried in Mexico, but his family didn't attend the funeral.

"The entire family is devastated," said his mother, who asked that her name not be used because she is undocumented and fears deportation. "I almost wanted to return to Mexico but my other children don't have passports and I would risk not being able to come back. We've never left the country before."

Not a deportation

Cano Pacheco was granted DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status and employment authorization in May 2015, ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said in a statement.

DACA protects undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation. They can obtain valid driver's licenses, enroll in college and legally secure jobs. But the program doesn't give them a path to become US citizens or even legal permanent residents.

In April 2017, Cano Pacheco was arrested on a misdemeanor drug charge and was convicted about the same time on a second misdemeanor, ICE said. ICE didn't provide details about the nature of the second case.

His DACA status was terminated, making deportation a possibility, ICE said. He was released from ICE custody after posting bond, ICE said.

While waiting on an immigration hearing, Cano Pacheco was convicted of driving under the influence and another misdemeanor, ICE said.

Neudauer said that Cano Pacheco was not deported.

He opted for voluntary departure, which means he would not suffer the penalties of a formal deportation, such as being banned from legally returning to the United States for a period of years, Neudauer said.

He requested and was granted voluntary departure on April 10, ICE said, and was returned to Mexico at the border in Laredo, Texas, on April 24.

Cano Pacheco's mother said his lawyer advised him to take voluntary departure "because it didn't carry the same penalties. He was unsure. He didn't want to leave but the lawyer put that in his head. We all feared that he could be killed if he went back."

The attorney, Joseph Lopez-Wilson, confirmed that he requested the voluntary departure in open court. He declined further comment to CNN.

'He didn't know anyone in Mexico'

Cano Pacheco's mother told CNN she brought her oldest son to the United States when he was 3 years old.

They traveled to Iowa because his father was already there, she said. Her other children, a 13-year-old girl and two boys, 10 and 12, were born in the United States.

Cano Pacheco's father, now deceased, ran an auto repair shop where Cano-Pacheco spent a lot of time. He started attending Des Moines Public Schools in 2006, when he was a third grader, schools spokesman Phil Roeder said.

He was in the 12th grade at East High School when he transferred to Scavo High, an alternative high school, Roeder said.

He fathered a son, Danian, now 1 year old, Cano Pacheco's mother said.

"His girlfriend doesn't want attention," she said. "She's distraught and detached doesn't want to be in the spotlight."

Details are sketchy about how Cano Pacheco died.

"He didn't have any problems," his mother said. "I don't see a reason why he would have been targeted. He didn't know anyone in Mexico. He didn't even know our family until he got there. ...

"He went to the store at 5 p.m. on a Friday. Then he went missing."

Cano Pacheco was found dead May 18, said Pastor Alejandro Alfaro Santiz, who presided over a memorial service for Cano Pacheco in Des Moines.

A mother's anger

In the days since the death, the city of Des Moines has felt grief and anger.

Roeder, the school system spokesman, said city school educate students from more than 100 nations.

"This is a tragic reminder that immigration policy is not limited to the halls of power in Washington, DC, but impacts lives from one end of the country to the other, including here in Iowa," he said.

Santiz said his church operates like a community center, especially during times like these, when changing Trump administration policies create stress for immigrants.

"It is really hard for the mental health of a person to live every single day with the fear of not seeing their loved ones again because of deportation," he said. "Could you even imagine every time you drop your kids at school that might be the last time you hug and kiss them?"

Cano Pacheco's mother says her son had to leave the United States because of the President's immigration policies. Asked what she'd say to President Trump, she said:

"I'd tell him (Trump) to stop what he's doing," she said. "To stop deporting people to Mexico. We don't have papers but we work really hard to care for our families. If we get deported our families have to fend for themselves.

"Yes, some people don't have papers, but if they get deported, they leave their families hungry. They are sometimes the sole bread winners."

West Lafayette
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 56°
Kokomo
Broken Clouds
52° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 52°
Rensselaer
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 52°
Fowler
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 52°
Williamsport
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 52°
Crawfordsville
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 51°
Frankfort
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 50°
Delphi
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 52°
Monticello
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 52°
Logansport
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 52°
Spotty Showers Early, followed by Cooler Temps and Breezy NE Winds.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 107809

Reported Deaths: 3472
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20249757
Lake9956312
Elkhart6139106
St. Joseph582896
Allen5743197
Hamilton4565109
Vanderburgh313425
Hendricks2584120
Johnson2227122
Monroe220936
Tippecanoe208213
Clark202756
Porter195243
Cass19149
Delaware177359
Vigo168320
Madison151375
LaPorte133637
Floyd127060
Howard124763
Kosciusko115617
Bartholomew112757
Warrick103334
Marshall97223
Boone93746
Dubois91418
Hancock88842
Noble85832
Grant83732
Jackson7259
Henry72424
Wayne71814
Morgan67337
Shelby65029
LaGrange62811
Daviess61227
Dearborn61228
Clinton58911
Harrison54324
Putnam5088
Lawrence49828
Montgomery49321
White46914
Knox4489
Decatur44639
Gibson4254
DeKalb42110
Miami4182
Greene40635
Fayette40113
Jasper3722
Scott34410
Steuben3427
Sullivan32512
Jennings30512
Franklin29025
Clay2845
Posey2840
Orange27724
Ripley2708
Carroll26713
Wabash2527
Washington2491
Whitley2416
Wells2372
Jefferson2343
Starke2297
Fulton2272
Adams2263
Tipton21522
Huntington2033
Perry20014
Randolph2007
Spencer1944
Newton16311
Owen1621
Jay1570
Martin1500
Rush1474
Pike1311
Vermillion1200
Fountain1132
Pulaski1121
Blackford1062
Crawford980
Brown933
Parke892
Benton870
Ohio757
Union750
Switzerland660
Warren381
Unassigned0225

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events