ICE releases Brentwood student accused of MS-13 affiliation

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BRENTWOOD -

A Brentwood student recently released after a month in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention told News 12 Long Island that she thought she was going to be deported after being falsely accused of being affiliated with the street gang MS-13. 

The 18-year-old student, who News 12 referred to as "Maria," asked for her real name to be withheld. She came to the U.S. illegally two years ago and has been living with her mother while applying for "protected status." 

The teen's attorney told News 12 that the only evidence against her was that she was seen talking to suspected MS-13 members inside Brentwood High School.

"If you go to Brentwood High School, you're going to be observed with other gang members just by virtue of being in class," says Bryan Johnson. 

An ICE memo states that the teen has been classified as an associate of MS-13 because she "has been in the presence of confirmed MS-13 members on well more than four occasions."

"Maria" says she did not know they were gang members. 

"It was unfair. They didn't have any proof against me," she told News 12

Johnson says he represents a total of four teenagers like "Maria" in both Brentwood and Huntington. He says the school districts are illegally providing information to Suffolk police and that Suffolk police are acting as ICE agents.

"They're serving as a conduit between the schools and ICE, so that ICE can enforce civil immigration laws," says Johnson. "They're going to deport an innocent kid back to El Salvador or Honduras or Guatemala, and that kid is going to be killed by the gangs that they fled, and what does that say about the Suffolk County police and ICE?"

"Maria" said she fears going back to Brentwood High School. 

"I believe that just for being Salvadorian, they assume we are all gang members," she told News 12.

A Brentwood School District spokesperson says the district has not provided any protected student information to authorities. However, the district does have a Suffolk police officer on campus.

The department says if someone is "confirmed" as an MS-13 gang member, the police report that to Homeland Security. The Suffolk Police Department has not said what criteria it uses to make that identification.

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