ICE arrests at least 6 in Oregon amid recent sweeps – OregonLive

Marcelina Mendoza for the first time drove the work van to the field to pick blueberries on the morning of July 9.

What was a typical routine for any driver — picking up other workers to go to the fields — quickly turned sour when Mendoza, 30, was stopped on a highway near Hermiston.

Two workers in the van were detained by immigration agents. They were among five — all Guatemalan citizens — arrested near Hermiston in what Tanya Roman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said was a targeted enforcement action.

Hermiston isn’t the only city to be targeted recently.

In San Diego, ICE arrested 20 people in a weeklong operation targeting people with final removal orders, criminal convictions or charges. Betsaida Sunem Moreno-Manriquez was also arrested Friday in Hillsboro.

After news reports last week revealed planned sweeps through larger U.S. cities, several former and current Department of Homeland Security officials told The New York Times a secondary plan was created to employ smaller raids over about a week. Over the weekend, the coordinated immigration raids took place in a few cities, the Times reported.

ICE declined to provide details when The Oregonian/OregonLive asked how many people were detained in Oregon in the past week. The agency said it makes arrests every day.

ICE confirmed Monday that Mateo Demateo-Baltazar, Rolando Pablo-Calmo, Higinio Pablo-Calmo, Teodoro Pablo-Ramos and Mario Lorenzo-Pablo, all arrested in Oregon, are in custody at the agency’s detention center in Tacoma. The Oregonian/OregonLive was able to independently confirm at least three are still in custody.

Mendoza, speaking in Spanish to The Oregonian/OregonLive, said ICE officials stopped the van about 3:50 a.m. July 9 and questioned her and five others about their status and asked them to show ID.

That’s when Mendoza, who has a work visa, said ICE agents arrested two people.

“I’m scared,” Mendoza told The Oregonian/OregonLive. “They took my fellow Guatemalans. That’s why I’m scared to go out and go to work where they could suddenly be on the road again.”

Ramon Valdez, director of strategic initiatives at the Innovation Law Lab who has worked with mental health professionals at the center that designs technology for immigration lawyers, said the raids destabilize families and aggravate post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression in the community.

Many people in these immigrant communities don’t know the language or laws. The possibility of losing relatives and friends or being stopped by police causes fear.

Hermiston Chief of Police Jason Edmiston said his department had no involvement with any ICE activity. The department was notified by the dispatch center that an ICE agent was in the area. The agent told the department that ICE was looking for a person with a felony warrant.

Sanctuary laws in Oregon — which prohibit state and local law enforcement from using public resources to arrest people whose only violation is being in the country without documentation — make it harder for ICE to do its job, Valdez said. But the laws don’t stop the agency from making arrests.

“They don’t answer to the local community. They don’t answer to the local government. They answer to the (Trump) administration,” Valdez said.

It’s common for ICE to go to a workplace or home with a warrant for someone’s arrest and coerce people into providing information, leading to other arrests, Valdez said.

“We are feeling an uptick in that,” he said. “That’s been the status quo for how ICE operates.”

An ICE statement said the agency’s enforcement actions are targeted and lead-driven, and it doesn’t conduct raids that target undocumented immigrants indiscriminately.

“ICE’s enforcement priorities have shifted since the previous administration,” another statement said. “ICE no longer exempts classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All individuals in violation of U.S. immigration laws may be subject to arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”

ICE said sanctuary policies, like those in Oregon, prevent the agency from being notified of undocumented immigrants in jails or prisons.

“Because of local sanctuary policies, ICE has no choice but to continue to conduct at-large targeted arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which inevitably result in additional collateral arrests,” a statement read.

There are about 110,000 undocumented immigrants in Oregon, many of whom work in agriculture, said Reyna Lopez, the executive director of Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, a group that helps Oregon and Latino farm workers.

Lopez said raids like these make people afraid to leave their houses or go to work, which could then eventually have an effect on Oregon’s agricultural industry.

Umatilla County, where Hermiston is, produced agriculture at a market value worth slightly over $374 million, according to Oregon data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The county accounts for 7% of the state’s agricultural sales.

In the U.S., the number of unauthorized immigrant workers declined to 7.6 million in 2017, down from 8.2 million a decade ago, according to the Pew Research Center. Unauthorized immigrant workers made up 4.6% of the labor force, down from 5.4% in 2007.

“This is going to have a ripple effect on everyone,” Lopez said.

A relative said the detainment of Lorenzo-Pablo, one of five arrested, will have a significant effect on his family. The Oregonian/OregonLive is not naming the relative because of their immigration status.

Lorenzo-Pablo managed blueberry pickers for Labor Plus Solutions, a company that provides workers for area farms, a relative told The Oregonian/OregonLive. Company officials declined to comment for this article.

Lorenzo-Pablo is the only family member working. If deported, he would also leave behind a young son, an American citizen.

“We’re worried,” the relative said. “We’re not sure what’s going to happen to him.”

Moreno-Manriquez, the woman arrested in Hillsboro, is also being held in Tacoma, ICE confirmed Monday.

Her friend Cashmere Staten, 24, told The Oregonian/OregonLive that Moreno-Manriquez, who has been in the U.S. since she was 1 year old, was a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program until she received a DUII several years ago.

Staten said she talked to Moreno-Manriquez late Saturday night. Moreno-Manriquez told Staten that a truck followed her from Cornelius to Hillsboro, where she dropped off her young son with her mom at Target. Moreno-Manriquez then went to McDonald’s to have breakfast with her young daughter when ICE agents approached her in the restaurant’s parking lot and asked her to identify herself.

Staten then said Moreno-Manriquez called her mom, who came to the parking lot with her young son. She was then arrested in front of her two children, Staten said.

ICE denied the account of Moreno-Manriquez’s arrest but didn’t provide details.

Cameron Coval, co-founder and executive director of Pueblo Unido PDX, a nonprofit that connects undocumented clients to low-cost legal services, said Moreno-Manriquez is waiting to meet with an attorney. They plan to discuss her case and explore options for release and deportation relief.

Coval said the remote locations of detention centers are barriers in getting legal representation, and the center’s high release-bond rates make it difficult for many to win their immigration cases.

“Those are the challenges of being able to access due process,” he said. “Unfortunately, some people can’t afford the price of freedom. (Moreno-Manriquez’s) story plays out hundreds of times in that detention center.”

— Christina Morales; cmorales@oregonian.com; 503-221-5771; @Christina_M18

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