Speaking to Spectrum News at Orange County Correctional Facility, construction company owner Luis Martinez said he is concerned for his wife and three children, as well as about 120 other families who depend on his business for primary income.
Martinez, who was detained outside his Front Street office on January 16, spends much of his time speaking with his wife Ernestina and his business associates, as he hopes to hearten his family and let investors know that his firm, The Lalo Group, is operating as usual.
"I've been trying to keep up with the business on the phone here [at the jail]," Luis said during a jail visit on Thursday, "but I can't continue to do that forever."
His wife in the meantime says her husband is a good man through and through.
"He tries to do all he can in the community here in New Paltz," Ernestina said during an interview on Wednesday at the family's restaurant, La Charla. "We have been living here in New Paltz for 26 years. We are from here. We are Mexicans, but we have our hearts here."
In between phone calls with Luis and the family's attorneys, Ernestina finds some solace in running the restaurant.
"It's a way of relaxing myself," she said, holding back tears. "It's hard. I know we're going to get through this. To me, the most important thing is that he's alive."
Luis said The Lalo Group has at least $35 million in contracts and has a hand in five large ongoing projects, which include "Zero Place," a zero net energy housing and retail project on Route 32 that The Lalo Group just began building.
"He sponsors youth sports leagues, hires a bunch of people locally at two successful businesses he has," Luis's friend and New Paltz Deputy Supervisor Dan Torres told Spectrum News on Thursday. "It came as a real suprise to me."
Luis said his father was murdered in Mexico when he was three years old. Five years later, he fled with his mother to the U.S. Luis also explained he has a green card which permits him to work, and has done so since he was 18.
A graduate of New Paltz High School and SUNY-Ulster, Luis said he went from odd carpentry jobs, to flipping houses, eventually to building condominium communities.
But this is not his first interaction with the harsh realities of immigration and migration.
In 1997 Luis was deported for trying to return to the United States after visiting Mexico, something he quickly learned was not allowed for an adult with his immigration status.
In a reply to Torres' request for information on Luis' detainment, Department of Homeland Security Community Relations Officer Sonia Thomas responded.
"Mr. Martinez was detained and deported on two previous occasions, which is why he is currently being detained," Thomas said.
But Torres is in disagreement with the incident.
"Taking people like Luis out of our community doesn't make our community safe. It doesn't make our community better. It doesn't make it stronger. It really highlights a broken immigration system," Torres said.
Luis told Spectrum News that in 2016, he learned about "U Nonimmigrant Status" (U-Visa), which is given to those "who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity," according to the department of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Sources.
He said he then applied for the U-Visa in 2016, believing he was eligible since he saw his brother Jesus get shot and killed in Newburgh in 1999, and later helped police investigate the murder.
He had not yet heard if or when he would receive a U-Visa when he was detained.
On Saturday evening, several friends of the Martinez family rallied on Main Street in New Paltz and wrote letters to representatives in Washington, petitioning for Luis' release.
Back at La Charla, Ernestina said she is still shaken but confident, since the family has overcome sudden crises before.
"With all that has happened, with his father and his brother, with the big heart he has, I know we're going to get through this and move forward," Ernestina said.
Ernestina said the family was told by attorneys they were trying to get Luis before a judge at the end of last week, but that did not happen.
Luis' attorneys have not responded to multiple calls seeking comment.