PAINESVILLE, Ohio - The family of an undocumented Mexican immigrant who is set for deportation rallied at Congressman David Joyce's office Friday, asking him to intervene.
About two dozen people held signs and chanted in support of Esperanza Pacheco, 45, who was arrested Tuesday during a regular check-in with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Pacheco, a mother of four, is being held in the Geauga County Jail and is set to be deported Tuesday, relatives said.
"She really doesn't deserve to be in jail," said her daughter, Thalia Moctezuma. "She's not a criminal. She shouldn't be treated like one."
Veronica Dahlberg, of Latino advocacy organization HOLA Ohio, said during the check-in, ICE agents led Pacheco into a back room without her attorney and interrogated her for nearly an hour.
Dahlberg said they also told Pacheco she was supposed to have brought a plane ticket to return to Mexico, though her attorney contends she was never told to do so.
ICE spokesperson, Khaalid Walls, said in an email that Pacheco was granted stays of removal on two occasions, allowing her time to finalize her departure or seek further legal proceedings.
A member of Rep. Joyce's staff met with Pacheco's relatives and Dahlberg after the rally Friday morning.
"We explained to him how Esperanza was taken into custody and how her rights were violated," Dahlberg said.
She said they would be filing an application for a stay of removal Monday and asked Joyce to investigate ICE's handling of the stays.
Pacheco, who has lived in the United States for 25 years, was most recently granted a stay about five years ago under the Obama Administration. Her siblings and four daughters are all citizens, according to Dahlberg.
"We want the congressman to look into why ICE continues to take these applications and the filing fee for $155, and they never rule on them or flat out deny them as a matter of policy," Dahlberg said.
Walls said Pacheco was granted an order of voluntary departure by a federal immigration judge in 2003 but failed to depart the country as instructed, automatically triggering a final order of removal, or deportation order.
He also noted she has a criminal record. Pacheco was arrested in 2002 for misdemeanor child endangering for leaving her kids at home while she was applying for a job, first bringing her to the attention of federal authorities.
Joyce's office provided a statement saying, "As a former prosecutor, Congressman Joyce trusts and respects the law and especially the legal process. However, the law is the law. It is hard to help people who have come to this country illegally and have violated our immigration laws."
His staff did not respond to questions about whether Joyce would take any action on Pacheco's behalf.