Attorney: Central Washington ICE Arrests ‘Hostage Situation’ As Mother Traded For Son

A protester outside the Yakima County Jail Wednesday, June 27 joins several others in calling for the release of detained immigrants. CREDIT: ESMY JIMENEZ/NWPB
A protester outside the Yakima County Jail Wednesday, June 27 joins several others in calling for the release of detained immigrants. CREDIT: ESMY JIMENEZ/NWPB

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents made several arrests in Central Washington this week in Basin City and Pasco.

In one case, a mother was detained even though agents were looking for her son.

“They took over 10 people as they were headed to work at 4, 5 in the morning,” said Brenda Rodriguez, a coordinator with the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network.

She went door to door in Basin City trying to figure out who in the community had been detained.

Rodriguez thinks at least five of those people are held at the Yakima County Jail. Five others are presumably detained at the Spokane County Jail.

The Gomez family was one of those affected. On her way to work, Mirna Gomez was pulled over and taken into ICE custody. But immigration officials were actually looking for her son, Leo.

When the family’s immigration attorney got in touch with ICE, the agency confirmed they were willing to trade.

“In this case, they’re like ‘Hey we want this guy and we got his mom, and we have a right to hold the mom. So let’s just use her as a bargaining chip,” attorney David Jakeman said.

He says in his ten years of immigration experience, he’s never seen something like this.

“It’s like a hostage situation,” he said.

The son, Leo Gomez, turned himself in to the Yakima office of the Department of Homeland Security. He’s currently detained in the Yakima County Jail. Other detainees were taken to the Spokane County Jail.

Jakeman asserts that ICE officials didn’t have to do this operation.

Leo Gomez was brought to the U.S. as a one-year-old child. He was wanted by ICE officials for a DUI, and he had previously been detained. The family posted bail, and his immigration case was under what’s called ‘administrative closure.’ That means the case is essentially asleep and gives both the courts and the family reprieve. Jakeman says that if ICE officials wanted to arrest Leo Gomez, all they had to do was file to reopen the case.

Meanwhile immigration-rights activists are crowdsourcing information and trying to gather the funds to post bail for their detained family members before they’re transferred to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.

Following the arrests this week, activists also held a small protest Wednesday outside the Yakima County Jail. A similar protest took place in Spokane Thursday.

Organizer Brenda Rodriguez was there Wednesday outside the Yakima Jail.

“We’re gonna fight for (those detained),” she said. “To let ICE officials to know we’re gonna hold them accountable and we’re not gonna stop. And for people to know this is what happened in our home.”

An ICE spokesperson said by email that the agency is conducting enforcement operations every day across the country, but could not confirm “numbers of arrests in certain areas.”

Copyright 2018 Northwest Public Broadcasting

Related Stories:

The Peace Arch memorial monument in Blaine, Washington connects the U.S. and Canada as a port of entry. CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons

American-Iranians Say They Were Detained At U.S.-Canada Border. Federal Officials Deny It

Sixty Iranian-Americans say they were detained at the American border with Canada this weekend, according to CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations. Two other attorneys at the border, unrelated to CAIR, made similar observations. Customs and Border Protection denies those reports. Continue Reading American-Iranians Say They Were Detained At U.S.-Canada Border. Federal Officials Deny It

Read More »
The Newtown Creek is seen in the Queens Borough of New York. Newtown Creek is a waterway approximately 3.5 miles long between the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. The Superfund designation will allow the Environmental Protection Agency to go after the polluters of the waterway forcing them to pay an estimated $500 million for the cleanup. CREDIT: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Backlog Of Toxic Superfund Cleanup Sites Grows Under Trump Administration

The Trump administration has built up the biggest backlog of unfunded toxic Superfund clean-up projects in at least 15 years, nearly triple the number that were stalled for lack of money in the Obama era, according to 2019 figures quietly released by the Environmental Protection Agency over the winter holidays. Continue Reading Backlog Of Toxic Superfund Cleanup Sites Grows Under Trump Administration

Read More »
The Mid-Columbia Mastersingers will hold three performances of “American Dreamers,” a presentation of work written by composers who are also immigrants to the U.S., on January 10, 11 and 12. CREDIT: Enrique Pérez de la Rosa/NWPB

Tri-Cities Concerts Go Beyond Politics To Highlight Lives Of DACA Recipients

Daniela Medina is a first-grade teacher in the Kennewick School District — at the same school she found herself in at age six when she and her family immigrated to Washington from Mexico in 2001. The Mid-Columbia Mastersingers are holding concerts January 10, 11 and 12 of music by immigrant composers to tell the stories behind the politics. Continue Reading Tri-Cities Concerts Go Beyond Politics To Highlight Lives Of DACA Recipients

Read More »