HILLSBORO, Ore. — Friends and family of a Cornelius woman say U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers followed and detained her on Wednesday.
Betsaida "Betsy" Moreno-Manriquez has lived in the United States since she was 1. On Friday, she was in the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center in Washington pending removal to Mexico, where she was born.
Her best friend Cashmere Staten is trying to call attention to what’s going in Oregon and around the country by sharing Moreno’s story.
Staten says Betsy was once protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA.
Staten got the call she was dreading this week, the one from Betsy telling her she was in the ICE detention center in Tacoma.
"She would have nightmares at night, call me in the middle of the night and say she woke up screaming because she was scared that she was going to be taken away from her children,” Staten told KGW.
Moreno told Staten a black truck was following her from Cornelius to Hillsboro on Tuesday. She said ICE agents “swarmed” Moreno as she left a McDonald's with her daughter.
She asked to see a warrant and judge’s signatures, attempting to maintain her rights. Officers told her if she didn't show them her identification they would take her kids. She gave them her Mexican passport and was arrested in front of her children.
"She deserves to come home, she deserves to be heard. Her story deserves to be out there. I think we need to raise a lot of awareness because when she called me she said there are so many women here just like me here under the same circumstances,” Staten said.
A regional ICE spokesperson told KGW that Moreno is a Mexican citizen who is in the US illegally.
Staten says Moreno's DACA protection was revoked a couple years ago after she got caught driving under the influence of intoxicants.
An ICE spokesperson told KGW she plead guilty to DUII in August 2015. She was later detained in the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. ICE says a judge ordered she be removed from the country in 2017 when she didn't show for her immigration hearing.
In August 2018, Forest Grove Police Department says they arrested her on a warrant and charged her with failure to present a license and falsifying information.
Washington County Court records show a warrant was put out for her arrest after she didn't show to court over those charges.
Washington County court records do not show a DUII charge from 2018, but list two misdemeanor charges of giving false information to a police officer and failure to carry or present a license.
"It’s the waiting game. If she does get deported to Mexico, she’s been here since she was a little girl – 1 year old. She doesn’t know anyone in Mexico, she doesn’t have any family in Mexico, she doesn’t know the area. So, does she get dropped off? What happens?” Staten asked.
Nonprofit Pueblo Unido was made aware of the situation and is sending an attorney to sit down with Moreno and other immigrants in Tacoma next week.
The organization supports Portland metro community members fighting deportation and connects clients to legal representation and helps gather evidence to strengthen cases.
Pueblo Unido raises money and pays to send attorneys to Tacoma for consultation appointments with detainees facing deportation on a regular basis.
“How many people do you know who had a DUI who got a chance to get diversion and move on with their lives? And then how many were permanently separated from their families?” Pueblo Unido Executive Director and Founder Cameron Coval asked. “She's right now fighting for her freedom and the opportunity to stay in this country with her children.”
Coval said this very story is playing out all over the country as ICE ramps up enforcement and targets people with existing removal orders.
"These sorts of intimidation scare tactics happen all the time and evidently they'll take advantage of any vulnerability somebody might have, including threatening children,” Coval added.
He said, in general, when agents are following people they have an idea if someone was a prior DACA recipient, had an ongoing immigration case or missed a hearing.
“The messaging is definitely intended to scare as many people as possible. But I think it is business as usual: targeted enforcement on people with existing removal orders,” Coval told KGW.
A regional ICE spokesperson sent KGW the following statement:
“Due to law-enforcement sensitivities and the safety and security of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel, the agency will not offer specific details related to enforcement operations. As always, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.
“In fact, 90 percent of aliens arrested by ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations component in FY2018 had either a criminal conviction(s), pending criminal charge(s), were an ICE fugitive, or illegally reentered the country after previously being removed. However, all of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and – if found removable by final order – removal from the United States.
“ICE deportation officers do not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately. ICE's enforcement actions are targeted and lead driven. ICE conducts targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy.”
Editors note: An earlier version of this story stated, per ICE, that Moreno-Manriquez was arrested for driving under the influence of intoxicants in August 2018. But Forest Grove PD told KGW they have no record of that.