Immigrant mom's joy upon release: 'My heart, it feels so happy' - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Immigrant mom's joy upon release: 'My heart, it feels so happy'

A Florence mother held in immigration custody for one week is expected to be released Thursday from the Boone County Jail. (Photo credit: Cincinnati Enquirer via Rita Cote) A Florence mother held in immigration custody for one week is expected to be released Thursday from the Boone County Jail. (Photo credit: Cincinnati Enquirer via Rita Cote)
CINCINNATI -

One week ago, Riccy Enriquez Perdomo was a largely anonymous suburban wife and mother of two young children.

She is now, to many people, a symbol of the confusion of current U.S. immigration policy.

After seven days in federal custody, Enriquez came home Thursday evening. She walked out of the front doors of the Boone County Jail at 7:15 p.m. and was greeted by cheers and by hugs from family members, according to our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer. 

Enriquez wept and answered questions from reporters in Spanish and English.

She held her son, Rony, 11 months.

"My heart, it feels so happy," she said. "I can't describe it. I missed my kids, my husband, my family."

After being arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, Enriquez said, she didn't know if she would ever come home again to Boone County. She said she prayed and asked God to reunite her with her family.

The 22-year-old Florence resident wore blue jeans and a sleeveless jean jacket over a black T-shirt.

"It was horrible," she said of her week in federal custody. "I never thought it would happen to me. ... They told me I was a fugitive. That's why they arrested me. I am just so tired."

Enriquez was arrested because ICE thought her legal DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, status had expired, the agency said in a statement to The Enquirer. Also, she misidentified herself as a legal permanent resident. She was released, the statement said, after further investigation revealed that her DACA status was renewed Jan. 31.

Enriquez arrived at the back of the Boone County Jail in an unmarked white van about 6:45 p.m. Thursday, according to Don Sherman, a Cincinnati-based legal advocate for her. 

“I missed her,” said Enriquez's 5-year-old daughter, Melanie. “I love her. I love her. I am happy today.”

In all, about two dozen family members and immigrant rights supporters – some with signs that read “Stop Separating Families” – waited on the public sidewalk on Conrad Lane. A Boone County deputy told them they could not wait on county jail property.

ICE seized Enriquez on Aug. 17 at an immigration office in Louisville when she went there to post bond for another immigrant eligible for releases.

Instead, Enriquez, a Honduran national living in the United States since she was 9, found herself in custody and on an odyssey that would take her through three states and five federal prisons.

The Enquirer and USA TODAY first reported Wednesday that she had been arrested despite her DACA status. Her travel papers for her return to Honduras had already been prepared when ICE realized its mistake, according to Sherman.

Though she had received a deportation order in 2004 for entering the country illegally with an uncle and a sister, Enriquez believed the deferred action status she first received in 2015 under DACA protected her from detention. Immigration officials say she still needs to have that order removed.

DACA, which grants temporary relief in two-year increments, was created in 2012 through executive action by President Barack Obama. It provides a work permit and the opportunity to get a legal driver's license. President Donald Trump has yet to decide if he is going to continue it.

After Enriquez's arrest, she was jailed in Boone County; Clay County, Indiana; and Chicago and McHenry and Pulaski counties in Illinois. She was moved last to the Pulaski County Jail in southern Illinois before she was driven Thursday back to Boone County.

Sherman and a dozen other immigrant rights activists started to gather at the jail at 4:45 p.m. Thursday

A friend and fellow churchgoer from Florence, Gladis Giron, 38, drove her four school-aged children to the jail Thursday afternoon to greet her “best friend.”

“It’s so exciting,” said Giron, who, like Enriquez, is Honduran by birth. “We pray together in church on Saturday and Sunday and on Wednesday. She has a beautiful heart. I want to be here for my friend.”

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