Federal immigration officials say they arrested a Honduran woman Monday at their Baltimore office who supporters say had sought to stay in the United States.
Maria Marta Rodriguez, 53, of New Carrollton, had come to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office for a check-in, according to advocates familiar with her case.
ICE officials said Rodriguez had been issued an order of removal on Feb. 15, 2006, and since 2009 had been on supervision requiring her to attend regular check-in meetings. On May 10, she attended a check-in but had not purchased a plane ticket to Honduras — a condition that officials previously set.
Officials granted her two months before her next appointment, and that came Monday.
In a statement, an ICE spokeswoman, Justine M. Whelan, said Rodriguez was arrested at the check-in “because for the second time, she failed to purchase a plane ticket to depart the country in accordance with her final order of removal.”
Rodriguez’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment, but has previously stated Rodriguez hoped to be granted asylum.
At least 100 supporters attended a gathering Monday morning in support of Rodriguez. Omar Angel Perez, lead organizer for LA RED/Faith In Action, a member of the DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network, said Rodriguez has feared deportation for months.
Perez — an activist who has followed Rodriguez’s case since May — said Rodriguez was accompanied to the ICE office by two of her children, her pastor and others in the community. He said Rodriguez’s friends and family will continue to seek help for her, including “reaching out to members of Congress and our representatives, and also we’re going to reach out to the governor’s office for them to intervene.”
Her lawyer, Hector Mora, a partner for Washington-based WMR Immigration Law Group, previously told The Baltimore Sun that Rodriguez has been working in the country legally since 2009.
A mother of six, Rodriguez first left Honduras in 1994 and entered the U.S. illegally to escape what she said was an abusive relationship she was forced into when she was 15. She said she wanted to provide a better life for her family, including a disabled son. Four years later, she went back to Honduras to be with children who were left there. She returned to the U.S. illegally in 2005, after her second husband died in an accident in the U.S.
Community groups have supported Rodriguez since her visit with ICE officials in May.
Mora previously told The Sun that Rodriguez hoped the delay from the May check-in would give her more time to make a case for asylum. She needed to renew her passport and to file a motion to reopen her case before a judge could grant her relief.
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It’s not clear whether that motion had been prepared as of Monday.