Family members of a high-profile Mesa immigration reform activist were detained overnight by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Arizona.
ICE agents took Maria Arreola and Heriberto Andiola into custody at their Mesa home Thursday night. Arreola and Andiola are the mother and brother of Dream Act activist, Erika Andiola.
All three are undocumented immigrants.
THE BACK STORY
Arreola and her son, Heriberto Andiola, each crossed into the United States from Mexico more than a decade ago.
Arreola had been removed from the United States on her first attempt to cross the border, but she illegally returned to the country at a later date.
In September, Mesa Police officers pulled over Arreola for speeding. She was unable to provide a valid identification and later pled guilty to the charge said Steve Berry, a spokesperson for the Mesa Police Department.
As a result, ICE officials became aware of Arreola's illegal re-entry.
Erika Andiola, who - according to the United We Dream Network - has “worked with senior Obama administration officials and members of Congress” on immigration reform, said she believes her mother’s initial deportation made her a target for ICE.
According to Heriberto Andiola, ICE agents first approached him at the Mesa home he shares with his mother and siblings.
“Four people came towards me and I was kind of surprised because I didn’t see any badges or identification,” he said. “They started asking about my mother.”
"As soon as she stepped outside, they handcuffed her," said Erika Andiola.
"When she was out and they started putting handcuffs on her, then I was scared,” said Heriberto Andiola. “[My mother] was crying bad. This is something I've never seen in my mother. My sister she was falling apart," he said.
"I tried for any way to tell her, ‘it's going to be okay. It's going to be okay,’" he said.
"It has just been a rollercoaster of emotions,” Erika Andiola said. "I never saw myself in this position," she said. "I spent all night making calls to everybody I could even legislative offices, organizations."
ICE agents released Heriberto Andiola, but he will still have to face an immigration judge, he said.
"Right now I got a paper that will allow me to stay in the United States and possible work permit,” he said.
“I have done good for 17 years. I never committed a crime. I've never been deported ... this is a relief for now," he added.
Someone within ICE headquarters ordered a supervised release for Arreola Friday afternoon.
"Although [Arreola] had been previously removed from the country, an initial review of these cases revealed that certain factors outlined in ICE’s prosecutorial discretion policy appear to be present and merit an exercise of discretion," said Amber Cargile, an ICE spokesperson.
"A fuller review of the cases is currently on-going. ICE exercises prosecutorial discretion on a case-by-case basis, considering the totality of the circumstances in an individual case," she said.
According to Arreola's attorney, Jose Peñalosa, she will be required to meet with ICE officials in one year to discuss her status.
Arreola told ABC15 she was excited and feeling lots of emotions when she was released and finally reunited with her kids.
"We were able to organize the community across the country for her to be able to get out,” said Erika Andiola. “Now, we just have to sit down with the lawyers to figure out what are her options," she said.
"I've learned the power of story telling and the power of organizing the community, and if I can use my story ... I feel pretty confident that we can build enough power to stop my mom's deportation and leave her here with her children and her grandchildren that are citizens but also that we can stop deportations for all the families in the country," she said.
"My message will be to the government,” said Heriberto Andiola. “The government is broken. The system is broken,” he said.
"We need action to start happening," Erika Andiola said. "I feel like this is a great opportunity for me to highlight what is happening in real life," she said. "What I'm asking Washington and I'm asking Obama is we really need to start taking steps that are real that are not just rhetoric for the next elections,” she said.
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