Erika Andiola spent hours Friday speaking to immigration officials to keep her own mother in the country. She prevented her deportation in the nick of time. The prominent immigration rights activist has routinely visited immigration offices on the behalf of others, “but this is the first time I have been here for my own mother,” she said. Thursday night, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers raided Andiola’s Pheonix, Arizona, home and took away her mother, Maria Minerva Guadalupe Arreola, to deport her to Mexico.
Andiola is president and founder of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition, which supports legislation to allow the children of undocumented migrants to attain documented status. The acronym stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors.
The family’s lawyer Jose Panelosa told CNN affiliate KTVK that Arreola was on a bus headed to the border when the decision to release her was made. “Fifteen minutes into the ride, there was a phone call to the bus and the driver took the call and spoke to the other agents, and turned the bus around,” he said.
Arreola was released in Florence, Arizona, he said. The woman’s son, and Erika’s brother, Heriberto Andiola Arreola, was also detained in the raid, but was released Friday morning.
When asked by KTVK what led to his detainment he said, “I don’t know if it has to do with my sister’s activism, I don’t know.” Andiola has often appeared on television discussing immigration rights with her mother. She has worked with Obama administration officials and members of congress on immigration reform.
An official with ICE told CNN, “ICE agents did not target these individuals because of their family member’s role with the Dream Act Coalition.”
On a press conference call Friday, Andiola said she spent hours in the offices of ICE seeking her family’s release and was told that her mother would be “deported right away” under an “expedited order of removal.” She told reporters that her brother and her mother were recently charged with traffic violations.
ICE exercised “discretion” in releasing Arreola, according to spokeswoman Barbara Gonzales. Andiola’s mother has been “previously removed from the country,” she said. Both her and her son’s case are under review.
Such home raids like the one Andiola had to endure are wasteful in light of anticipated immigration reforms, said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund. “It’s ridiculous to think we’re spending billions of dollars arresting people who will be on the road to citizenship once Congress enacts reform.”
Andiola feels her time and effort are being unnecessarily taxed as well. “I am asking President Obama and his Administration to stop separating families,” Andiola said. It shouldn’t have to take thousands of phone calls to stop the deportation of one person “every day all around the country.”