Voces de la Frontera will hold a press conference today in Madison with María Portugal, a Wisconsin mother and survivor of domestic violence who is speaking out against threats by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to separate her from her five children if her estranged husband does not turn himself into ICE.
Portugal’s lawyer informed her that ICE had called him threatening to detain her for deportation if her estranged husband did not turn himself in to ICE, according to a press release. Portugal has lived in Wisconsin for over 20 years. She and her husband have been separated for over a year. Portugal contends that ICE threatened her despite the fact that she has a three-year-old open application for a U Visa, which is intended to protect victims of crime from deportation after they come forward to work with law enforcement.
“It is so unjust that this is happening to me and my family,” Portugal said in a statement. “Nobody knows where my ex-husband is. I’m worried if they deport me, they’ll take my daughter away from me, and that’s what I’m afraid of.”
Today’s press conference hosted by Voces de la Frontera will take place at 5 p.m. at Madison Christian Community, 7118 Old Sauk Rd. It will be hosted in conjunction with other allied organizations and other Wisconsin families facing separation by ICE to stand in solidarity with Portugal and her children.
“We call on ICE Regional Director Ricardo Wong to meet with a delegation of families threatened by ICE, and to clearly and publicly state that ICE will stop threatening Maria and provide assurance that they will not detain her,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera, in a release. “It is apparent for all that ICE is functioning as a rogue agency and using single moms and victims of domestic abuse as hostages for Trump’s policies of xenophobia, cruelty, and mass incarceration. ICE is a lawless organization that makes the public less safe. It is up to the public to stand together and demand safety for families.”
Grisel Rodriguez of the Voces de la Frontera Madison Chapter and Karen Coller of the Latino Consortium for Action will serve as emcees of the press conference toady. One of the speakers will be Alysha Ferreyra, a Waukesha mother-of-3 whose ex-husband, Franco Ferreyra, has been detained by ICE since June, despite qualifying for DACA.
“Just over a year ago, we voted to become a sanctuary congregation to stand in solidarity with immigrant families against unjust laws,” said Rev. Sonja Ingebritsen of the Madison Christian Community. “We knew we would be asked to be allies in assisting our immigrant neighbors. We stand with them today in the event Maria and her children need protection.”