Federal immigration agents in Oregon showed up at the home of a so-called “dreamer” over the weekend and whisked him away without a warrant, the American Civil Liberties Union said.
Francisco J. Rodriguez Dominguez, 25, was released on bond Monday, according to the ACLU and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
ICE agents grabbed Rodriguez — a Mexican native who arrived in the United States at the age of 5 — on Sunday at his home in southeastern Portland, the ACLU said.
A native of Morelia in the state of Michoacan, Rodriguez has been part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program since 2013, the ACLU said.
The DACA program, created in 2012 by President Barack Obama’s executive order, is meant to shield from deportation certain people brought into the United States illegally when they were children. The program allows undocumented immigrants to legally obtain driver’s licenses, enroll in college and secure jobs.
President Donald Trump has vowed to preserve protections for DACA recipients, who often are called “dreamers,” a reference to the proposed bill that would give DACA participants permanent legal status. But Trump also has decried purported abuses of the DACA program while expanding the power of immigration officers and insisting that no one in the country illegally is safe from removal.
Family was terrified, ACLU says
Agents arrived at Rodriguez’s home and banged on the door, and his terrified family “didn’t know what to do,” said Stephen Manning, a local immigration lawyer who talked with the family. The attorney was quoted in ACLU’s news release about the case.
“They didn’t have a warrant, and were told they couldn’t come in, but they wouldn’t stop banging on the door,” he said.
Rodriguez’s sister said she heard the pounding and went to get her brother after two people asked for him, CNN affiliate KATU reported. He went outside and told the people he was a DACA participant working to become a citizen.
Rodriguez’s priest, the Rev. Roberto Maldonado of Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church, said Rodriguez called him while agents were at the door.
“He said he was afraid of what they would do to his family,” Maldonado said. “He was saying, ‘I need to go, I need to go — they are going to break the door down,'” and the called ended.
“They put him in handcuffs and took him,” the sister was quoted as saying.
Rodriguez was taken to a Tacoma, Washington, detention facility, CNN affiliate KOIN reported.
ICE released a statement on Monday saying Rodriguez was “targeted for arrest based upon his guilty plea in December to a charge of driving under the influence of intoxicants, an offense ICE deems a threat to public safety.”
ICE said in the statement that Rodriguez would be “subsequently be released on bond” pending a hearing before a federal immigration judge.
The ACLU issued a statement confirming the release “following a public outcry over his detention.”
ACLU: No danger to the community
According to the ACLU, Rodriguez in December entered a diversion program for the DUI charge. He completed nearly all of the requirements of the program and attended all his court dates and required meetings, the ACLU said.
“Despite Francisco’s best efforts to make good on his mistake, ICE has taken the position that even a misdemeanor DUI eligible for diversion is enough to end DACA status,” said Andrea Williams, executive director of Causa, an Oregon immigrant rights organization. She was quoted in ACLU’s news release.
Mat dos Santos, legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, said Sunday’s events “represented a disturbing and confusing action taken by ICE.”
“A judge had already determined that he wasn’t a danger to the community or a flight risk. So, why is ICE showing up at his house early on Sunday morning? These kind of brutal tactics do not keep us safe. It just makes people scared to live their lives and pushes immigrant communities further into the shadows,” dos Santos said.
Community backs church volunteer, coach
Rodriguez is a well-liked and active community member, the ACLU said. He works for Latino Network, a community organization, where he coordinates a food pantry for low-income families. He coaches soccer and volunteers at his church.
“Everyone loves Francisco. I don’t know how we will tell the kids, families, and school staff he works with about this,” Carmen Rubio, executive director of the Latino Network, was quoted by the ACLU as saying, before Rodriguez was released on bond.
Williams, of Causa, said the news of Rodriguez’s release gave her hope.
“Families should not be torn apart. Dreamers and children should be safe in our state … We saw Oregonians speak out over the last 24 hours, and it resulted in Francisco’s swift release and reunification with his family,” the ACLU quoted her as saying.
Various groups had appealed to the community to contact ICE on Rodriguez’s behalf, the ACLU said. Advocates also advised undocumented residents of their rights.
“If ICE shows up at your door without a warrant signed by a judge, you don’t have to open it to answer questions,” dos Santos said. “If ICE claims to have a warrant, you should ask agents to slip it under the door or hold it up to a window.”