Deportation officers on Tuesday took a prominent Maryland illegal immigrant activist into custody in preparation for sending her home to El Salvador, sparking an outcry from other activists who said she was being unfairly targeted.
Roxana Orellana Santos showed up for a regular check-in with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as she had before, but this time officers took her into custody, her supporters said.
They said she fears being sent back to El Salvador, which she fled last decade, and said she’s made a home in Frederick County for her children, some of whom were born here and are citizens
Activists then tried to block the route they thought ICE would use to transport Ms. Santos, leading to arrests of four people.
One immigrant-rights group said it will file an immediate petition asking a judge to halt Ms. Santos’s deportation and to release her from custody so she can fight her case.
Ms. Santos earned national attention in immigration circles after she was arrested by Frederick County sheriff’s deputies in 2008. The agents discovered she was wanted by ICE at the time.
She filed a $1 million lawsuit arguing it was an illegal arrest. The case is still pending, though she has won a major legal battle with a judge ruling last year that the sheriff was liable for the wrongful arrest.
CASA, an immigrant-rights group active in Maryland, said it is rallying to Ms. Santos’s cause.
“She is a pillar of her community and a devoted mother to three United States citizen children, and one legal permanent resident teen son who also escaped violence in El Salvador,” the group said. “Despite the fact that Santos owns her own home and has deep ties to the United States, ICE is prepared to remove her permanently from her community and country.”
CASA said her arrest is retaliation for her lawsuit against Frederick County.
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