Arcata woman released from detention

Mad River Union

ARCATA – Claudia Portillo, an undocumented Arcata resident and mother of four daughters, has been granted release on a $12,000 bond after seven months in a federal detention center, and community members are arranging to help pay for her release.

In a June 18 hearing in San Francisco Federal Immigration Court, Judge Patrick S. O’Brien granted Portillo, 33, her release on bond.

O’Brien said in the hearing that while he was granting Ms. Portillo release on bond, the Department of Homeland Security has the ability to appeal his ruling to delay her release.

Several community members from Humboldt and Del Norte counties made the trip to San Francisco after having advocated for Portillo’s release, both on the North Coast and in San Francisco with community events, online fundraisers and direct support to her family.

Portillo was detained during a routine federal check-in appointment in November of last year and imprisoned in the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield. Portillo was born in El Salvador, but has lived in the United States from age seven and the past four years in Arcata with her four American daughters, mother and several other family members.

“My sister has been stuck in detention for seven months. She has missed her daughters’ birthdays and graduations,” said Portillo’s sister Jenny Ventura.  “Claudia is a strong, vital part of our community and is enduring something unthinkable for most of us,” said True North Organizing Network Leader Lisa Enge of McKinleyville. “(Portillo’s been) waiting in detention for more than seven months. This is wrong. Claudia is not a criminal. She is a lovely human being who deserves better than this.”

Among the North Coast community groups that have advocated for Claudia Portillo’s return are True North Organizing Network, Arcata United Methodist Church, Catalyst Church, Humboldt Move to Amend, Centro Del Pueblo, among others. Los Bagels donated breakfast and snacks to the convoy of supporters that traveled from Humboldt County to San Francisco for Portillo’s hearing. U.S Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), who represents Portillo in California’s 2nd Congressional District, wrote a letter to Judge O’Brien requesting her release.

Over the past week, a community fundraiser has raised more than $8,000 in online and in cash donations, and both individuals and community groups are arranging to cover the rest of the $12,000 cost of her release. Organizers said Portillo hopes to be reunited with her family this week.


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