All around Washington state, ICE is arresting undocumented immigrants when they show up for hearings or to pay fines.
By Lilly Fowler
A few weeks ago, Lydia went to bed feeling anxious. The 34-year-old mother of five children, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, was planning to travel with her partner to the Grant County Courthouse in Ephrata for a DUI hearing in criminal court.
She had read on social media that two federal agencies — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) — were increasingly staking out local courthouses. She didn’t quite believe the rumors. Still, she felt uneasy.
The next day, as the couple turned a corner near the courthouse, she spotted a white SUV. “La migra,” she thought. Her hands turned cold.
“I said, ‘It’s them,’ ” but he didn’t believe me, she said, referring to her partner of almost a decade. At the end of her boyfriend’s DUI hearing, a man in jeans and a black top whom she suspected was an immigration official rushed out the door, in front of them. As they walked out, the man called out her partner’s name, shoved him to the floor, flashed a badge and handcuffed him, she said. The man turned out to be a U.S. Border Patrol officer. He and one other Border Patrol agent escorted her partner to the SUV.
“We have kids, please,” she can be heard saying to the officers in a video of the arrest obtained by Crosscut. “I get you’re doing your job, but we have five kids at home. What am I going to tell them?”
“Just let me give him one more hug, please,” she pleaded.
Lydia told Crosscut that, other than the DUI, her partner had never been in trouble before. The DUI occurred after a going-away party last year for the orchard crew her partner supervises. “He regrets that day so bad,” Lydia said in a recent telephone interview. Her partner had managed to turn his life around after the DUI, she said, rededicating himself to the family and attending church regularly. Now he sits at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.
In an interview from the detention center, her partner said the officers had made fun of him and his family, referring to them as “crybabies,” on the way to the jail in Spokane before arriving in Tacoma days later.
“They are treating the people they are picking up like garbage,” Lydia said.