By Esther Lee
August 24, 2017
Federal immigration officials have detained an undocumented immigrant protected from deportation in the country under an Obama-era program, the Cincinnati Enquirer first reported Wednesday, after she went inside a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field office in Louisville, Kentucky to post bail for another immigrant.
Riccy Enriquez Perdomo, a 22-year-old beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that provides temporary deportation relief and work authorization, was detained at an ICE field office in Louisville when she went to bail out a member of her church, her husband Ronnie Domingo told Cincinnatians for the American Dream. Despite telling officials that she has DACA and is thus lawfully present in the United States, ICE officials reportedly dismissed her claims and detained her. She came to the country at the age of nine in 2004 from Honduras with relatives. Her two-year DACA card was approved twice, with her latest renewal in February 2017.
Enrique Perdomo has showed up at the ICE office to pay bond on someone else’s behalf in the past. But this time when she showed up, things were different. An ICE agent told her that with President Donald Trump in office, her DACA was no longer valid, an inaccurate claim given that the president has not yet made a decision on the program’s fate.
“Somehow [ICE agents] said that she had a deportation order from when she was nine,” Don Sherman, a family friend who spoke with Enriquez Perdomo last Saturday, said in a phone interview on Wednesday. Sherman is also the Civil Rights Chair of the immigrant advocacy group LULAC-Cincinnati chapter. “And they said, ‘you don’t have DACA.’ Her lawyer said her DACA was renewed in January 2017. She got her work authorization card in February 2017.”
After he took office, Trump has signed a series of immigration policies that broadened the types of crimes punishable by deportation. Earlier this year, acting ICE director Thomas Homan observed that the Department of Homeland Security would no longer exempt categories of immigrants, disregarding the previous administration’s prioritization efforts to crack down on immigrants with serious criminal offenses.
Since her arrest on August 17, Enriquez Perdomo has been moved to five facilities in Boone County, Kentucky; Brazil, Indiana; Ullin, Illinois; Woodstock, Illinois; and as of Thursday morning, the Pulaski County Jail near the Illinois-Kentucky border.
“They’re moving her around. She’s really scared.”
“They’re moving her around. She’s really scared,” Sherman said. According to Sherman, Enriquez Perdomo’s family decided Wednesday to seek out habeas corpus relief as a way to force her case out of immigration court jurisdiction into a federal court in Kentucky to determine whether her detention is lawful.
“The Habeas corpus will give, hopefully, a stop to any deportation proceedings until the court has made the determination. That’s the first step,” Sherman said. Having known Enriquez Perdomo since 2014 when he helped her sign up for the initial DACA application, Sherman said he was still “shocked” by her detention.
“I know she has two children– age five and 11 months,” Sherman said. “She has no criminal record that I know of. She’s a contributing member of our society. We were shocked when she went to pay for bond and was basically detained.”
“She is the type of person who will bring the money to bring someone out of detention,” Lynn Tramonte, the deputy director at the immigrant advocacy group America’s Voice and America’s Voice Education Fund, told ThinkProgress. “She’s gone three other times to do it and suddenly she becomes the focus of interest. She’s got a great record. There’s no reason she should be targeted for deportation.”
An email to ICE sent Wednesday has not been returned. Sources told Univision reporter Jorge Cancino that Enriquez Perdomo “is in the process of being released from detention.” On a press call with reporters Thursday, Tramonte said that it was likely that Enriquez Perdomo would be released the same day.
At a time when the Trump administration has relentlessly pursued undocumented immigrants on the basis of legal status alone, Enriquez Perdomo’s detention still isn’t normal because DACA makes her lawfully present. The future of the DACA program is uncertain, however. Ten states have threatened to take legal action against the White House if it doesn’t rescind DACA by September 5. The president has yet to weigh in on the fate of the initiative, despite having earlier said that he would treat such individuals “with heart.” As the number of immigrant arrests rise, it’s obvious DHS does not hew to the same promise.
On the heels of that upcoming deadline, the publication McClatchy DC reported Monday that Trump administration aides are considering an immigration policy plan that would grant a legal status pathway for such DREAMers in exchange for harsher border security and immigration enforcement measures that could see their parents deported.
In the meantime, the detention of DACA recipients isn’t rare. This week, a federal judge sought to hold a trial to determine whether the U.S. government wrongfully deported Juan Manuel Montes, another DACA recipient who was allegedly forced to walk across the U.S.-Mexico border in February.
During the preliminary injunction hearing Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel — who was once accused of bias by President Donald Trump on the basis that his Mexican heritage presents an “absolute conflict” in his legal decisions — suggested a trial begin in two to four weeks.
Montes entered the country as a nine-year-old and was later granted temporary deportation relief under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative in 2014. Advocates say Montes may be the first DACA recipient to be deported under Trump. Since he took office, the president has broadly authorized policies that result in detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants.
The Department of Homeland Security has argued that there is no record of agents deporting Montes on the night of February 19 in Calexico, California. In his testimony, Montes said he was detained and questioned for a few hours before being driven to the southern U.S. border with Mexico where agents ordered him to “walk straight into Mexicali.”
The Department of Homeland Security has argued that there is no record of agents deporting Montes on the night of Feburary 19 in Calexico, California. In his testimony, Montes said he was detained and questioned for a few hours before being driven to the southern U.S. border with Mexico where agents ordered him to “walk straight into Mexicali.”
DHS officials refuted Montes’ argument, instead claiming the 23-year-old crossed the border on his own volition, which immediately invalidated his DACA status. When he tried to re-enter the following night over the border wall, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents deported him to Mexico.
“The main worry is that this is starting to appear to be a pattern.”
“Unfortunately this ins’t the first case we’ve seen of someone being subject to removal who has protections under DACA,” Ignacia Rodriguez, the immigration policy advocate at the National Immigration Law Center, told ThinkProgress. “We have yet, with this case, another example of field agents that are emboldened by this uncertainty to act in a way that clearly violates the promise to DACA recipients. That’s why we’re asking Trump and his administration to make it clear that they plan to keep the DACA program and not embolden these agents who think this program may be vulnerable to take such actions against those who should be protected.”
“The main worry is that this is starting to appear to be a pattern,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve seen cases starting in January of this type of engagement by agents on the ground.”
Both Montes and Enriquez Perdomo could face punishing and potentially deadly outcomes if they have to live in their home countries. Enriquez Perdomo doesn’t have immediate family in Honduras, but her young age makes her a gang recruit as a gangster’s “girlfriend.” And for Montes, the U.S. Department of State expanded a travel advisory for Mexico, which warned of the rise in homicide rates by criminal organizations.
“The State Departmentent’s warnings are for United States citizens considering temporary travel to impacted nations,” an ICE spokesman told ThinkProgress over email on Wednesday.
“We see now that if any immigration agent, whether it’s CBP or ICE, interacts with a DACA recipient, that protection is not respected,” Rodriguez said.
UPDATE: In an email sent Thursday evening, Carl Rusnok, an ICE spokesperson, released, in part, the following response:
“After additional investigation, however, it was revealed that she is currently a DACA recipient and is being released from ICE custody,” Rusnok wrote. “Upon questioning by ICE officers, Enriquez-Perdomo inaccurately stated that she was a lawful permanent resident (LPR). ICE officers researched her immigration status in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases and determined that she was not an LPR. DHS databases indicated that she had been a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). However, during their review of her computer file, they saw that her DACA status expired on March 19, 2017. Only after further investigation was it determined that her DACA status had been renewed on Jan. 31, 2017. (Enriquez-Perdomo’s initial application for DACA was approved on March 13, 2013, with an expiration of March 12, 2015.)”
“With this additional information, Enriquez-Perdomo is currently in the process of being released from ICE custody,” Rusnok said.”
This article was updated to note that Enriquez Perdomo was moved to Pulaski County Jail on Thursday morning as well as includes a statement from the ICE agency indicating that Enriquez Perdomo is in the process of being released from custody. The article was also updated to fix a misattributed quote.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com