The Huffington Post’s Elise Foley reported today that Janet Napolitano, the head of Homeland Security, went on local Phoenix television to defend the January 10 ICE arrest of two DREAMer activist Erika Andiola’s family members. Within hours of the arrest, Andiola’s mother, Maria Arreola, and brother, Heriberto Andiola Arreola, were released after a social media push went viral.
This is the report from Phoenix. The story does confirm that ICE’s Washington office had signed off on the release.
Napolitano told Phoenix NBC affiliate KPNX that Maria Arreola was taken in because of a previous deportation in 1998 and traffic arrest last year. Maria Arreola was therefore considered a priority case, she said.
“I can’t tell what you was in the file, and often time what is in the press doesn’t include everything that is in the file,” she told KPNX’s Brahm Resnik.
She added that a majority of deportations fit under the agency’s priorities, but that prosecutorial discretion “can kick in” when determining whether an individual should, like Andiola’s mother and brother, be removed. She would not say whether she had a role in Arreola’s release, according to Resnik.
An ICE official, who was not authorized to speak on the record about the details of the case, told HuffPost after the incident that the two were not targeted because of Erika Andiola’s work in advocacy as a Dreamer, a term for young undocumented immigrants who could be granted legal status under the never-passed Dream Act.
According to Foley’s story, ICE also released a statement from Barbara Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the agency:
Although one individual had been previously removed from the country, an initial review of these cases revealed that certain factors outlined in ICE’s prosecutorial discretion policy appear to be present and merit an exercise of discretion. A fuller review of the cases is currently on-going. ICE exercises prosecutorial discretion on a case-by-case basis, considering the totality of the circumstances in an individual case.