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ICE Detains Portland 'Dreamer' Recovering From Car Accident

Courtesy of the ACLU of Oregon
Emmanuel Ayala Frutos was hit by a car in Portland on Jan. 6 while riding his skateboard and spent six weeks at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center undergoing surgery for his broken bones and recovering from his injuries

A 21-year-old Portland man who was hit by a car in January, and is recovering from having both his legs broken, has been detained by federal immigration authorities.

Emmanuel Ayala Frutos is from Mexico and has lived in Portland since the age of six, according to the ACLU of Oregon.

"This particular case is just particularly cruel," said Mat dos Santos, legal director of the ACLU of Oregon. "You have somebody who has both serious mental and physical health needs."

In 2013, Frutos received status through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), according to the ACLU. Recipients are often referred to as "dreamers."

Immigration advocates say Frutos's arrest, along with two other arrests over the weekend, signal federal authorities becoming less tolerant of any allegation of crimes committed by DACA recipients.

Rather than waiting for convictions, like under the Obama administration, advocates say they're now seeing Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents arrest "dreamers" when they're charged with crimes or even suspected of criminal activity.

ICE has not responded to a request for comment on the detention of Frutos.

Last month, Frutos pleaded guilty to a knife possession charge stemming from an argument he got into with a group of construction workers in Vancouver, Washington, according to the ACLU.

The DACA program requires its participants "have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety."

On Jan. 6, Frutos was hit by a car while riding on his skateboard and spent six weeks at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center undergoing surgery for his two broken legs and recovering from his injuries. During his hospital stay, Frutos was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Frutos is among at least three DACA recipients who were detained by ICE in the last week in Oregon.

Dos Santos said Frutos is still recovering from his injuries and needs a wheelchair and leg braces to walk.

"This is not somebody who is a threat to the community and who needs to be deported, but it's somebody who needs to be in a supporting and loving household right now, not locked up in Tacoma," he said.

The Northwest Detention Center, an ICE facility, is located in Tacoma, Washington.

Dos Santos said the three arrests over the weekend in Oregon underscores what appears to be a new pattern.

"All of these people had relatively low-level contact with the criminal justice system, had been released because they weren't a threat to their community, and suddenly were all arrested by ICE," dos Santos said.

Frutos showed up for a biometrics appointment to renew his DACA status last week, shortly before he was detained by immigration authorities.

The future of DACA is unclear.

During the presidential campaign, then candidate Donald Trump called for an end to the program. But during a news conference in February, President Trump said DACA was "very, very difficult."

"We are gonna deal with DACA with heart,” Trump said.

Jorge Baron, executive director of the Seattle-based Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, said there's been a shift in the way ICE approaches DACA.

"Mere charges or suspicions are being used to trigger enforcement and for them to detain and try and terminate DACA status," Baron said. "That's something we were seeing before."

Baron said they're concerned that undermines due process and the rights of DACA recipients to contest charges.

He acknowledges the deferred action program has a discretionary component.

"We think the way the administration is approaching it, it's kind of undermining the protections," Baron said. "If it is so tenuous then I think a lot of people would not have been as eager to provide information to the government."

Copyright 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting.