A Honduran immigrant and father of three is facing deportation after calling the police for help.
Wilson Rodriguez Macarreno was getting ready for work early Thursday morning when he noticed a stranger looking into his home in Tukwila, Wash. As the Washington Post reports, the 32-year-old carpenter grew concerned about the safety of his 3-year-old twins and 1-year old son. The Post notes that the early-morning sighting capped “a string of attempted intrusions” into his home in recent weeks.
So Rodriguez did what many might do when confronted with a stranger on their property: He called the cops.
The officers did find the trespasser but didn’t arrest him because they had no probable cause, police say. They did end up arresting Rodriguez. As CNN reports, after asking for his ID, cops discovered that he had an outstanding warrant they believed to be criminal. Not long after calling the police to investigate a possible intruder, Rodriguez, who is an undocumented immigrant, found himself in the back of a squad car.
Here’s what happened next, according to the Post:
Rodriguez overheard an officer discussing by speakerphone with a voice on the other end of the line. It was Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Cortes said.
“Do you want us to bring him to you?” the officer asked, Rodriguez later recalled.
“That would be great,” the voice responded.
Minutes later, the officers left Rodriguez at a nearby ICE field office. Rodriguez was shackled and later taken to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, one of the largest detention facilities in the nation.
As it turns out, the warrant wasn’t criminal at all. According to the Tukwila Police Department’s own admissions, it misinterpreted the nature of the warrant against Rodriguez. It was actually an administrative warrant, related to a missed court hearing from 2004, when authorities in Texas discovered that he had entered the country illegally.
Rodriguez’s lawyer, Luis Cortes Romero, told the Post that his client never received the notice to attend the mandatory court meeting, but missing it triggered a removal order.
This makes Rodriguez’s arrest, essentially, a mistake. The Tukwila PD confirmed that it “does not respond to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement requests to detain individuals on their behalf.” The only reason Rodriguez was arrested was that his administrative warrant appeared like a criminal one in the National Criminal Information Center database.
Despite this, Immigration and Customs Enforcement now refuses to release Rodriguez, according to his lawyer. He maintains that his client has no criminal record. Rodriguez could be deported within a matter of days, leaving his young children without a father.
The arrest falls in line with one of the more troubling trends of the Donald Trump administration. Arrests of noncriminal undocumented immigrants have skyrocketed in the last year. The Washington Post found that ICE had detained 37,734 undocumented “noncriminal” immigrants in 2017. This was twice the number arrested in Barack Obama’s final year as president.
Aside from the obvious concerns, of upending the lives of thousands of people and disrupting families and communities, the immigrant crackdown has also triggered a “chilling effect” on crime reporting across the country. Undocumented immigrants who are the victims of crimes like robbery and sexual assault have refused to report them for fear of being handed over to ICE, according to police and immigration advocates.
The Police Department, which says it has “worked tirelessly” to develop and maintain relations with its large immigrant and refugee population, says that it will not be responding to administrative warrants from ICE going forward.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez’s lawyer has requested a stay of removal for the carpenter on humanitarian grounds, the Post reports. He’s the sole provider for his partner and their three children.