WASHINGTON — A mother of two in Fairfax County has been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers after a routine check-in Thursday. Now, her likely deportation is stirring up strong opinions on both sides of the immigration debate.
Liliana Cruz Mendez, 30, was first arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents in February 2006, and an immigration judge ordered her to leave the country later that year, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Carissa Cutrell.
The Salvadoran immigrant later came under ICE supervision in 2013 after court records say a police officer pulled her over for a broken headlight and cited her for driving without a license. She was convicted of a misdemeanor offense and paid an $11 fine, according to court records.
Cruz Mendez was able to stay in the country after ICE twice exercised “prosecutorial discretion” in delaying deportation proceedings against her — first in June 2014 and again in May 2015, Cutrell said.
But that discretionary period has come to an end, something that doesn’t make sense to Mendez’s supporters.
“ICE picked her up because they could. I just think this is the worst part of the face of the Trump immigrant crackdown,” said Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, a democrat whose district includes Fairfax County.
He joins Mendez’s supporters who believe she should be allowed to stay with her kids.
“She is a nonviolent offender … We’re breaking up a family I do not think any of us can be proud of that policy,” Connolly said.