WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — Cecilia Figueroa has worked four years with a Utah nonprofit, helping families find nutritious food on a budget.
On Tuesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were waiting for Figueroa as she arrived at a scheduled meeting and detained her. They released her on the agreement she would leave the country by Labor Day.
On Friday, about 100 people gathered at the U.S. Immigration Court in West Valley City to protest the deportation order.
Her story is one example of an immigration system that is broken and that many in the Latino community say has been weaponized against them.
“It's really on the backs of Congress to stop the madness, from my perspective, and the fear that the president of the United States is bringing toward our community,” said State Rep. Angela Romero, who came to the protest in support of Figueroa.
Many on hand were coworkers of Figueroa at Comunidades Unidas, a non-profit helping Utah’s Hispanic community in a number of ways.
Maria Montes works with the group, and she read a letter from Figueroa thanking the protesters for their support and explaining why she fled to the U.S. from her home in the state of Guerrero in Mexico.
“Close to my house there was a riot where unfortunately drug kingpins began pushing violence forward in my community,” the letter explained, going on to describe a situation in which Figueroa’s nephew was kidnapped and killed in the area.
Montes says Figueroa was trying to go through the proper process to obtain legal status.
“Her attorney didn't give her the correct information,” Montes said.
Montes said they hoped to get an asylum hearing for Figueroa, but with the Labor Day holiday looming, they were worried time was running out.