Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – The family of an Arcata mother of four who has been incarcerated by immigration authorities is pleading for her release from unexpected detention.
Supporters gathered on the Plaza the evening of Nov. 28 in support of Claudia Portillo.
Portillo, 30, was seized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities in San Francisco on Nov. 14 during a routine check-in.
A citizen of El Salvador, she arrived in America at age 5 and has lived under Temporary Protective Status in the U.S. for 27 years, the last four in Arcata.
She’d been checking in with ICE every six months as required, but this time she was clapped in handcuffs and taken to the Contra Costa West County Detention Facility, where she has been lodged ever since.
“She was just trying to do everything correct, do the right thing,” said her brother, Miguel Cuevis. “She shouldn’t be locked up like an animal.”
Portillo’s sister, Jenny Ventura, said her sister’s cell is a grim, windowless room. “She’s not doing well,” Ventura said. “She’s very anxious and depressed.”
Among those standing vigil for her on the Plaza were Portillo’s young daughters, all enrolled in local schools. “They want to see her,” Ventura said.
Portillo works with her brother at their business, Diamond Touch Roof Wash Services, and is active with her church, Restauracion Ebenezer.
Cuevis said Portillo’s case is pending. A GoFundMe campaign titled “Claudia’s Deportation Defense” will help raise funds for travel to the Bay Area and for legal fees. The goal is to raise $7,000 initially, and potentially raise if an immigration judge grants a bond hearing.
The arrest seems to stem from a missed notice to appear that had been sent to an old address in Long Beach where Portillo used to live.
“She’s a hard working woman, independent and loves helping people,” Ventura said. “It’s not fair.”