[UPDATE] – Newsweek has written about the case.
[UPDATE] – I’m pleased to tell folks that a lot of advocacy work from a lot of people paid off and Mrs. Puerto Diaz is home! ICE drove her back in a car and she arrived late last night. She’s resting and the family is obviously ecstatic. More than a million people saw the first tweet I posted asking for people to contact ICE as a result of help from several people with large followings helping to spread the word. And we got help as well from our great Congressman Steve Cohen and his wonderful team (Matt Weisman and Beanie Self are the best!). And special congrats to Johnna Main Bailey and Olga Zavala on our legal team for their excellent work. Thanks everyone! Greg
On Wednesday we were contacted by Ricardo Loza, the husband of Carmen Puerto Diaz. Mrs. Puerto Diaz and her husband, a US citizen, were attending a green card interview at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Memphis. At the interview, Carmen was informed that she had an in absentia removal order and was being arrested by ICE. An in absentia removal order means that she was ordered deported by an Immigration Court. Carmen was not aware that she had this order. She does not have any criminal history. The removal order is based on her being in the US without documentation.
Carmen is five months pregnant and is facing a high-risk pregnancy along with hypertension. She is on special medication and sees her obstetrician every week to two weeks. Along with being told to take her medication, she has been told to avoid stress. Carmen informed ICE in Memphis through an interpreter about her complicated pregnancy and the medication she takes every 12 hours which she had in her purse. The officer asked her husband to go and get Carmen’s her medical records and then they would release Carmen. When he returned less than an hour later, he was informed she was not being released.
After that, our office was contacted. Johnna Main Bailey at our law firm was in communication with the Memphis ICE office and requested Carmen be released on an order of supervision. ICE declined and she was transported to the Mason, TN detention center more than an hour from Memphis. We also worked with a Congressman’s office to no avail. As of this writing, Carmen is on an eight-hour bus ride to ICE’s La Salle Detention Center in Jena, Louisiana.
CARMEN HAS SPOKEN TO HER HUSBAND AND WE LEARNED SHE HAS NOT BEEN ALLOWED TO HAVE HER MEDICINE SINCE BEING DETAINED. She reports feeling dizzy and unwell, worrying symptoms that are consistent with her diagnosis. ICE actually forwarded the assisting member of Congress their policy that detainees are entitled to take their medications, something that they are ignoring. Furthermore, she is under obvious extreme stress. IN SHORT, HER LIFE AND THE LIFE OF HER BABY ARE AT RISK.
We have partnered with a firm in Louisiana to help on the ground there. Woody Scott, an excellent New Orleans-based attorney, has filed a medical parole application with the Jena ICE facility asking for Carmen’s release after she arrives. He has been told that this is unlikely.
So what can you do? While we are going to pursue action in court, every minute Carmen is in the detention center, she is at risk. We need to let ICE officials at Jena, at ICE’s district headquarters in New Orleans and ICE in Washington, DC know that Carmen’s situation is unacceptable and they need to release her to get proper medical care.
Because it’s Friday night, we think efforts are best focused this weekend on the La Salle detention facility in Jena. Their phone number is (318) 992-7800.
We also think letting the ICE New Orleans Field Office know the situation is unacceptable will help. Their phone number is (504) 599-7800 and their email address is NewOrleans.Outreach@ice.dhs.gov.
Feel free to let ICE national know what you think. Their Twitter account is @icegov.