ICE detains young Kentucky mother who has legal status

CINCINNATI (USA TODAY) — Immigration police officers seized a 22-year-old mother of two young children last week and are holding her for deportation despite having legal status, the Enquirer has learned.

In a case with national implications, Riccy Enriquez Perdomo, 22, of Florence, Ky., was arrested Thursday and has been held at four different locations since then, say her family and attorneys.

Federal officials say they plan to deport Enriquez next week, family members say. She has been moved to the McHenry County Jail northwest of Chicago. It is the final stop for detainees who are in the deportation process in that region.

Enriquez, the married mother of two children, ages 5 and 11 months, is a two-time recipient of legal status through the DACA program. Otherwise known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, it was created in 2012 through an executive order by then-president Barack Obama to provide temporary relief for young adults who had been brought illegally into the country as children.

Enriquez received a work permit through DACA and was employed at Amazon in Hebron, Ky., until the birth of her infant son, Rony.

President Trump said in July that he is wrestling with DACA and calls it "a decision that is very, very hard to make." Immigrant advocates say Trump's administration is recklessly disregarding DACA protections and deporting them and other undocumented immigrants who've committed no crimes in the United States.

Enriquez, a Honduran national, was 9 when she crossed the U.S.'s Southern border in 2004 with an uncle and two of her sisters. She received DACA status in 2015, and her renewal was approved Jan. 31, according to Don Sherman, a local immigrant rights activist and lawyer.

She had previously been under a deportation order before receiving DACA status.

Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested her Thursday in Louisville. She had gone to an immigration office there to post bond for another immigrant who was eligible for release. Enriquez went, says her family, because she was confident in her legal status.

"They asked for her information when she posted the bond and then told her she didn't have DACA," said her brother-in-law, Robert Cote.

"We called ICE in Chicago, and the person there told us, ‘When Trump came in, DACA doesn't exist anymore.’ I couldn't believe they told me that."

A public affairs spokeswoman at the Chicago immigration office referred the Enquirer to a "detainee" search function at www.ice.gov that was malfunctioning Wednesday morning.

"This is not the first time this year that ICE has misrepresented the situation on DACA for several immigrants around the country," Sherman said.

He said he completed and filed Enriquez's DACA forms and confirmed Tuesday with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that she has legal status under DACA.

Her case is similar to that of a 23-year-old DACA recipient in San Diego. On Tuesday, a federal judge there said he was preparing to order the Trump administration to return Juan Manuel Montes to the United States from Mexico.

U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel said he needs to hear directly from Montes. His lawyers said ICE unlawfully deported him in February. ICE officials said Montes voluntarily left the country and gave up his DACA protection.

Under the direction of the Trump administration, ICE officials have said there are "no more exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement."

Enriquez’s family members are angry with ICE because it has detained her in four locations since her Thursday arrest. The agency took her first to the federal detention facility at the Boone County Jail in Northern Kentucky before moving her quickly to Clay County, Ind., and then Chicago.

Her sister, Rita Cote, said Wednesday morning that ICE moved her again but is not telling her where.

"Every time we have an appointment to see her, we show up and they tell us they moved her," said Cote’s husband, Robert.

The family has a local attorney, Teresa Cunningham, and is working with the National Immigration Law Center office in Los Angeles, which is also representing Montes in San Diego.

Advocates and family members in Greater Cincinnati are in contact with Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who introduced federal legislation in 2001 known as the Dream Act. It would provide temporary legal status and a path to citizenship for young people brought into the country illegally as children, like Enriquez.

Durbin and Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., introduced updated Dream Act legislation in July.

Enriquez's family also is seeking help from Ohio's senators, Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown.

Family members describe Riccy Enriquez Perdomo as a devout Christian who holds religious services for up to 30 people in her living room.

"Of all people, this is the last person you need to fear," Richard Cote said. "She always does the right thing."

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved


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