MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A woman is back in Memphis after she was arrested by US Immigration and Customs enforcement leaving the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Downtown Memphis.
We spoke with Carmen Puerto Diaz, who only speaks Spanish. FOX13’s Alexa Lorenzo translated what Puerto Diaz had to say about her arrest.
“I never want to remember that moment,” Puerto Diaz said.
She said she walked out of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services office in handcuffs.
She was born in Honduras and moved to the US almost 15 years ago. Puerto Diaz said she went to the office with her husband, a US citizen, for her green card interview.
Diaz said the interview went well, but when she left the office, an ICE agent was waiting for her at the door.
“He said he had to arrest me,” Puerto Diaz said.
Carmen was headed to a detention center in Mason, TN, and so was her unborn child.
“I was just thinking about my baby,” Puerto Diaz said.
Carmen, who is 5-months pregnant, said she knew the stress would affect her baby. The doctors declared her pregnancy-high risk early on.
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She had been taking medicine every 12 hours. She said for two days while at the West Tennessee Detention Facility- she had none.
So, immigration lawyer Greg Siskind stepped in. “This is a very unusual case,” Siskind said. “I think it’s indicative of the times.”
Carmen was transferred to an ICE processing center eight hours away in Jena, Louisiana.
“I thought, something worse was going to happen on the drive there,” Puerto Diaz said.
She said when she arrived, she was finally able to take her medication.
Back in Memphis, her lawyers were trying to get her released.
“There’s been discussion in the immigration bar about this being a new potentially ominous problem that the immigrant communities will have,” Siskind said.
Her lawyers took to social media, urging people to call ICE and ask the agency to release Puerto Diaz.
It worked. Lawyers discovered she had a decade's old order for removal, a legal battle she'll continue to fight even after her baby is born.
A year ago, if ICE would have found her and seen she was pregnant, they would not have been able to arrest her.
President Obama signed an order in 2016 that would only allow ICE to detain pregnant women in “extreme circumstance”. Puerto Diaz’s lawyers said her circumstance is not extreme.
In December 2017, the Trump administration rescinded that order.
We reached out to ICE for a comment both during and after the government shutdown but have yet to hear back.
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