WASHINGTON – Dozens of people gathered on Tuesday at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in Washington to protest the pending deportation of Liliana Cruz, a Salvadoran woman detained last week in Virginia by immigration agents.
Participating in the protest were Cruz’s family, including her 10-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter, both born in the US, as well as Democratic Congressmen Don Beyer of Virginia and Luis Gutierrez of Illinois.
Cruz, 30, was detained on May 18 in Fairfax, a Washington suburb, during a routine appearance before immigration authorities, her first such appearance during the administration of Donald Trump.
The Salvadoran came to the US in 2006 and a judge ordered her deported that same year when she did not show up for a court hearing. In 2013, she was detained for driving without a license, given that Virginia does not issue them to undocumented migrants, although she remained out of jail.
In 2014 and 2015, she obtained temporary suspensions of her deportation order in accord with the process instituted by the Barack Obama administration to give immigration officials a measure of discretion in deporting people, ICE told EFE.
However, ICE spokesperson Jennifer Elzea said that under the current leadership of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly classes or categories of undocumented migrants who can be deported are no longer exempt.
Everyone who has violated immigration laws may be subject to arrest, detention and expulsion from the US, she said, adding that those who are deemed to constitute a “threat” to national and/or border security continue to be given priority in that process.
Detentions of undocumented migrants who have committed no crime have doubled since Trump entered the White House.
At the protest on Tuesday in Washington, Gutierrez said that no family should be “torn apart” because someone drove without a license.
The true criminals are those who separate families to fulfill their anti-immigration agenda, he added, going on to say that he considered Trump’s immigration policy “immoral.”
The CASA organization, which represents Cruz in the deportation process, has said that she could be deported at any time.