The parents of Paula Hincapie-Rendon will be deported to Colombia early next week, the couple’s lawyer said Friday.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Betty Rendon and Carlos Hincapie on May 8 after they pulled over their daughter a block away from their family home in Englewood.
The agency released Hincapie-Rendon later that afternoon because she is protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. ICE sent her parents to an ICE facility in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, and transferred them to the Pulaski County Jail in Ullin, Illinois, late Monday night.
On Thursday, Diana Rashid, an attorney with the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago, filed stay of removal requests for both Rendon and Hincapie. She included 65 letters of support from community organizations and petitions, signed by more than 15,000 people, calling for the couple to remain in the country.
ICE wasn’t interested.
“I got a call earlier this afternoon from the supervising officer at the ICE field office [in the Loop] to let us know that the stay was denied,” she said. “When I asked him why, he said that there were ‘insufficient reasons warranting a stay.’ I asked him to elaborate, and all he said was, ‘I don’t know what to tell you.’”
Rendon and Hincapie are scheduled to be bused to an ICE detention center in Oakdale, Louisiana, on Tuesday and will then be put on the next chartered flight to Colombia, according to Rashid.
ICE did not respond to requests for comment.
The family fled Colombia’s civil war in 2004 after guerrilla rebels threatened to kill Rendon for not allowing them to recruit students of a school where she was a principal. They came into the United States with tourist visas and later applied for asylum, but their applications were denied in 2009.
Since then, Rendon became a student minister at the Emaus Evangelical Lutheran Church in Racine, Wisconsin, and was set to begin her doctorate at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in June. Hincapie held steady work in construction and grew close to his five-year-old granddaughter, Layla.
Both maintained spotless criminal records during their 15 years in the United States.
Rashid said she hasn’t been able to speak with Rendon or Hincapie since her phone call with ICE on Friday. She’s unsure if the couple knows they will be deported next week.
“It’s possible they don’t find out until Tuesday when they’re put on a bus to Louisiana,” she said.
Rendon and Hincapie’s case is indicative of the sharp rise in ICE arrests and deportations of undocumented immigrants with clean records.
Figures released by ICE in March show the agency arrested 34,546 people between October and December 2018. More than a third of those immigrants had no criminal record, the highest monthly figure since ICE started categorizing arrests in 2012, as reported by USA TODAY.
As of Monday, ICE had more than 52,000 immigrants in its custody, BuzzFeed News reported.
“We had our hopes up that ICE would do the right thing in this one case,” Rashid said. “We’re incredibly disappointed by the agency’s utter disregard for family unity.”
Paula Hincapie-Rendon is protected from deportation by her DACA status — but the program doesn’t allow her to leave the country, meaning she will not be able to visit her parents once they are deported.
Rashid called Paula with the bad news soon after getting off the phone with ICE.
“Paula is very upset. Right now, she’s planning on how to get her family’s baggage ready,” she said.
Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant rights group based in Milwaukee, has called on Illinois residents to call senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin to urge them to intervene.
Carlos Ballesteros is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times’ coverage of Chicago’s South and West sides.