Multiple immigrants’ rights groups say the federal government is trying to take a domestic abuse survivor living in Janesville away from her children. Maria Portugal shared her story inside a packed room at the Madison Christian Community Center on Madison’s west side last night.
Portugal has lived in Wisconsin for 20 years and applied for a visa three years ago. On July 9, she says, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement called her lawyer, threatening to detain her for deportation.
“The only thing I was asking is ‘Why? Why me?’” Portugal asked through a translator.
“She’s a great mother and she didn’t do anything wrong. She just wanted to have a free life and be happy,” Maria’s son Mario said.
Portugal wasn’t the only woman affected by immigration who spoke at the event. Alysha Ferreya of Waukesha said her ex-husband was detained without warning this summer. Ferreya said her ex has no criminal record and that the ordeal has taken an emotional toll on their children.
The event was hosted by Voces De La Frontera and Dane Sanctuary Coalition. Organizers encouraged attendees to sign petitions and contact their elected officials to create change and Portugal and Ferreya.
A Public Affairs officer with ICE told News 3 that the agency focuses on individuals who pose a threat to national security and public safety, but that “all of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”