Rally outside ICE office highlights uncertainty

Dozens of immigration activists rallied Tuesday in support of Fernando Carrillo, released from custody last month after being jailed for more than six months, as he attended a check-in appointment at the San Francisco U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

Carrillo, a Mexican national, had received an outpouring of support from community members since his arrest in October, which happened as he was dropping-off his daughter at a San Jose daycare.

Carrillo was released on April 2 after Immigration Judge Joseph Park issued a withholding of removal order for him. Because the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately appeal Park’s decision, Fernando had been effectively granted protection from deportation, according to Carrillo’s wife Lourdes Barraza.

However, about a week after Carrillo was released, his family learned that Park’s decision is being appealed and his case has been reopened. Barraza said it might take years before Carrillo’s case is heard.

Outside of the ICE office, before his check-in appointment, Carrillo said:

“That caught us off guard. We thought that the case and the fight was over … They want to separate me from my family and we’re not going to allow that. We’re going to fight. We’re not going to give up.”

Carrillo was arrested last year on a previous deportation order after already having been deported in 2012. Carrillo has said he believed ICE agents were following him in the days before his arrest, as they were already waiting for him at the daycare’s parking lot on the morning he was arrested.

Activists at today’s rally also showed-up to support Dianeth Lopez, whose husband, Raul Lopez, has been jailed for more than a year in ICE custody at the West County Detention Center in Richmond, the same place where Carrillo was held.

Carrillo said:

“I hope my fight can get him (Raul) out of there … I hope my case is an example. We are not criminals… We are good people.”

According to Dianeth Lopez, Raul Lopez, a Guatemalan national living in Richmond, already had a pending immigration case, but made the mistake of driving under the influence of alcohol. Lopez was subsequently placed on house arrest and also spent two months in jail for the DUI case.

In March 2017, however, when he went to a check-in appointment at the San Francisco ICE office, he was taken into custody and has remained jailed since.

Rev. Deborah Lee is the executive director of Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, which has played a big role in organizing rallies and providing support for Carrillo and his family.

Lee said:

“We want to be able to be there for people during these check-ins, which are becoming increasingly more and more dangerous … We really want to help (Lopez) who has been here for 29 years, who has no family in Guatemala to return to. He has absolutely has to be allowed to stay right here with his family where he belongs.”

Dianeth Lopez said Carrillo’s case inspired her to fight for her husband to stay in the U.S. and she said she hopes to get a decision on his case soon.

After entering the ICE office with his wife, children and a handful of faith leaders, Carrillo reappeared after 10 minutes, smiling. Carrillo said he simply filled out paperwork and was asked to come back in a few months.

Carrillo said:

“I want to thank my family because we didn’t know what was going to happen … I’m back with my family and I cannot wait to get back to my house.”