SHIRLEY - A Shirley family is fighting for the release of a father turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
According to his family, Pernell Mitchell has been held at in the custody of the Suffolk County Jail after a minor traffic violation.
Judith Mitchell says her family emigrated from Jamaica 10 years ago when Pernell Mitchell attended bible college on a student visa. Since that time, she says they've made repeated attempts to gain citizenship and even considered moving back to Jamaica a few years ago.
Those plans were canceled when their daughter Melissa was diagnosed with cancer. The family fears returning to Jamaica could amount to a death sentence due to the country’s inferior health care. Melissa, a sixth-grader, has been taken out of school to undergo chemotherapy for lymphoma.
Bryan Johnson, the Mitchell's attorney, says his client has no arrest record, holds a full-time job and is a father of five children. He says local police can refuse to honor federal immigration laws and immigration officials should grant some leniency.