MARYSVILLE, Wash. - A Marysville mom from Honduras was scheduled to be deported Tuesday.
But her new attorney believes Immigration and Customs Enforcement made a critical error - and that in part, led to her deportation order.
“We stopped this deportation that's supposed to happen today,” said Alexandra Lozano, an immigration attorney representing Bernarda Pineda.
With the help of a Marysville elementary school teacher, and community support on a GoFundMe for legal fees, Pineda was able to cancel her one-way ticket to fly back to Honduras. The ticket had her leaving on the morning of March 20, but for now she will be able to stay in Marysville with her three daughters.
“But this fight is very long from being over and her future is uncertain every day at this point,” Lozano said.
A letter Pineda got from ICE about a month ago says a judge ordered her to leave in 2006 and 2015. It reads in part, “I cannot ignore the due process already afforded her by setting aside the decisions of the Immigration Judge in 2006 and 2015.”
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But her attorney says she believes ICE made an error and the 2015 order never happened.
“It was never filed with the court formally, so there could not possibly be a judge decision,” Lozano said.
“To say she was afforded ‘due process’ in 2006 and 2015 when it seems there may not have ever been an immigration judge order in 2015 is troubling. Because that’s not considering the actual facts of the case,” Lozano said.
About a month ago, Pineda says she thought she was going to ICE for a regular check-in. But instead, got the deportation letter, an ankle bracelet, and orders to leave the country immediately.
It left the family devastated.
“I had to buy my own ticket. If I don't do it, I have to go to the jail,” Pineda said at the time.
Pineda's attorney says she hopes the mistake she discovered will help give the family grounds to stay.
She says she's also learned more of Pineda’s story -- and found out Pineda was tortured in Honduras and trafficked to the U.S.
“She was trafficked to the United States and held by her trafficker for many years,” Lozano said. “She did not make the decision to come here.”
Lozano couldn’t go into details of the case because they’re still collecting evidence for court proceedings. But she says those circumstances could be enough for Bernarda to seek asylum or apply for a special “T-visa."
McKinney, the Marysville teacher helping the family out says the family still needs $4,500 in order to afford to apply for that T-visa.
McKinney says she reached out to Rep. Rick Larsen’s office.
Larsen’s office said this to KIRO7 in a statement about Pineda’s case:
“This is a very difficult situation, and has serious safety implications. Honduras remains one of the world’s deadliest countries. In many deportation cases, we are not sending these folks back to safe places. While there is a legal process to come to the United States, every person in America, legal or not, has a right to due process. This constitutional right is something I will always advocate for. I am committed to fixing our nation’s broken immigration system and breaking down barriers that stop people from fully participating in the economy and our democracy.”
Lozano says she’s seen more deportation orders, and also more mistakes in the past year.
“One of the most important protections our country offers is due process. And my fear is, that with the ramped up deportation, with telling people they have 60 days before they’re going to be removed,” Lozano said.
“All of this immigration activity is calling into question due process. That’s what I can see is happening,” she said.
KIRO7 reached out to ICE for comment about its alleged mistake. The agency says it's researching Pineda’s situation.
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