Protesters demand release of mother of three swept up in immigration roundup

Posted at 2:02 PM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 23:46:53-04

WEST VALLEY CITY -- Singing Mormon hymns, about 50 people protested the detention of a mother of three accused of overstaying her visa in the United States.

Sylvia Flores was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Friday outside a craft store, her family said, where she was picking up supplies for a birthday party. She was with her eight-year-old daughter.

"My daughter called me crying," Flores' husband, Carlos Juarez, said Wednesday. "They took my wife."

Juarez insisted that his wife had work visas and she was married to him, a legal permanent resident. Flores has lived in the United States since she was seven. Speaking to FOX 13 on Wednesday, Juarez said an attorney he hired told him ICE claimed she had missed some check-in meetings with an immigration agent, but he insisted she had been compliant.

Carlos Juarez is hugged by Sharlee Mullins Glenn during a protest outside ICE's building in West Valley City. Juarez's wife was detained by immigration agents. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

"We thought they were going to leave her alone," he said. "Her I-130 was approved so she has residency here. I guess that's not enough for ICE."

In a statement to FOX 13 on Wednesday, ICE said Flores entered the U.S. in 1993 on a visitor for pleasure visa in 1993, but overstayed her term. In 1995, she was granted a "voluntary departure" to Mexico. In 1997, the agency said, she had lost an appeal of a judge's order of final removal.

"As Secretary (John) Kelly has made clear, ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement," the agency said in a statement. "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."

Flores has support from activists like Salt Lake Indivisible and Mormon Women for Ethical Government, who led the protest. They said Flores is the latest in a wave of immigration detentions taking place since President Donald Trump took office.

Carlos Juarez and his children participate in a protest outside ICE's building in West Valley City on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

"As a community, we have to rise up and say this shall not stand," said Sharlee Mullins Glenn with Mormon Women for Ethical Government. "This flies in the face of the values we hold dear in this community."

Glenn said her group had been in contact with Senator Orrin Hatch's office trying to get political pressure to secure Flores' release.

"She's been in the county jail, this woman with no criminal record whatsoever," she said. "She has an eight-year-old child and a two-year-old baby. It's appalling."