An undocumented Guatemalan mother has been arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after she showed up in Martin County, Florida to pay a traffic ticket.
Maria, a 24-year-old mother, was taken into custody and then transferred to Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, Florida, according to Miami New Times.
Maria says that she showed up to pay a $150 traffic fine when she was apprehended. After paying a $750 bond to leave the facility, they kept her money and waited for ICE to arrive.
“I am not a criminal,” Maria told Miami New Times.. “I have cleaned boats and homes. I have worked hard doing jobs that no one wants to do.”
“I wanted to make this alright with the law,” she said. “I went to present myself and straighten this out.”
Maria’s own 9-year-old son has been visiting her at the detention center once a week but fears that he could be detained at any time.
“They give me 60 to 90 minutes one time a week with my kids,” Maria tells the publication. “Imagine. I am their mother! That is very little time. They cry. They sob. ‘Mami vamos,’ they say. The nine year old is scared she will be detained. She comes to visit me, but she is waiting to to be arrested. She says ‘Mami, I don’t want to go back into detention.’”
In a sad turn of events, after six years in the United States, Maria was on track to apply for legal residency when she missed a court date after going into labor.
She is now being held at a “low-level” facility that is known for “profiting off of family separation by detaining and deporting undocumented individuals that have committed nonviolent offenses like traffic violations — or no crimes whatsoever,” according to ThinkProgress.
The practices being witnessed throughout the United States by ICE have led for calls to abolish the agency. One of its most vocal critics is Democratic New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who called on Congress to destroy the agency if Democrats regain control in November.
“These are civil issues, these are families, look at it as the economic engine that it is, that immigration is our strength, our diversity is what makes our country and our economy so strong,” Gillibrand said during a talk at New York City festival OZY Fest.
Donald Trump has come under increased scrutiny, first over his family separation policy that tore more than 2,000 children away from their parents and now for his administration’s inability to reunite more than one-third of those kids with their biological family members.
The Together We Will petition, launched in California, attacks the Trump administration and two companies who are running detention facilities that are “implicated in the mass incarceration of Americans, and now profit[ing] from the imprisonment of refugee children at our borders and the separation of refugee and immigrant families.”
One of those companies, known as Geo Group, is earning more than $186 million per year by operating centers throughout the United States, you can read our full write-up about that group HERE. The Geo Group donated more than $1 million to Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.