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Future uncertain as local man faces deportation
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A rally to support Enrique Manriquez was held May 26 in Roanoke. Manriquez, a local resident, is being held in connection with a deportation order. His wife and children, along with fellow church members at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville, are hoping for his release. (Contributed photo)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

On the morning of May 21, Enrique Manriquez arrived at St. Joseph Catholic Church to water some flowers he and his sons had planted recently, Father Mark White said.

And then, White said, a black sedan pulled up to Manriquez and two agents emerged, one with a uniform marked “Immigration,” the other wearing a bullet-proof vest that said “Police.”

“They told him to get in the car, that he was being taken to jail and would be deported,” White said. “They did stop by (his) house. His kids didn’t get to see Enrique — he was in the car — but the officers came to the door of the house to tell them that their father was being deported. And that was it.”

White was not at the church, where he is pastor, when Manriquez was picked up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He heard the story when he visited Manriquez the following day at Roanoke City Jail, shortly before Manriquez was moved to an immigration detention facility in Farmville.

Attorney Jim McGarry is an active member of St. Joseph and a friend of the Manriquez family. He has been helping the family wade through the legal waters by retaining an attorney for them who is familiar with deportation issues.

McGarry said Tuesday that to his knowledge, Manriquez still is in the Farmville facility.

However, McGarry said, clear answers are difficult to come by when it comes to Enrique Manriquez’ current situation.

McGarry said that he has not yet been able to obtain any of the paperwork outlining the charges against Manriquez, but he has learned informally that Manriquez was picked up by ICE due to an outstanding order from 1990.

“Apparently in 1990 there was some sort of a deportation order that either was not complied with or was not fully complied with,” McGarry said. “That’s what we do know, that this is not from anything that has happened recently. ... What it was that caused the deportation order back in 1990, we don’t really know. How it was supposedly enforced, we don’t really know. There’s a lot of unknown in that area.”

Fortunately, White said, Manriquez’ family is not in danger of being deported. His wife, Catairina, is a naturalized citizen, and his children — Enrique Jr., Eduardo and Vanessa — all were born in the U.S., which makes them citizens.

Enrique Jr., who just completed his sophomore year at James Madison University (JMU), said the family has been holding up as well as they can, under the circumstances.

“I think my little sister’s taking it the worst,” he said. “All I’ve been really doing ... is making phone calls like crazy here and there, just trying to get in touch with people and see what I can do.”

Enrique Jr. said the ICE agents told his brother, Eduardo, that they could track their father through the ICE detainee database by entering his name, country of origin and date of birth. Enrique Jr. said they tried to use the system, but “there’s no luck finding him.”

The Martinsville Bulletin checked the ICE detainee database (available at www.ICE.gov) multiple times to see if Manriquez had been listed. As of Tuesday, a listing for Manriquez still could not be found within the database.

Enrique Jr. said his father’s potential deportation has raised a lot of questions for the family.

“Financially, he’s the one that brings the money home and everything, so we don’t really know how everything’s going to work out,” Enrique Jr. said. “For school, too. I’ve got to find a way to pay for that.”

Enrique Jr. is on a pre-med trajectory at JMU and is considering becoming a physician’s assistant.

Eduardo said he has been doing all right since his father was picked up by ICE, although the timing was painful. Manriquez was detained just two days before Eduardo graduated from Magna Vista High School.

White described Manriquez as a loving, fatherly man and a pillar of his church community.

“He started an AA group for Spanish-speaking people here, which was a very generous thing to do and very helpful,” White said. “He’s a member of the Parish Council, which is the leadership group of the church. He’s very helpful with the beautification of the grounds. He and his sons take care of the grounds and mow the lawn, plant flowers, keep them nice. He and his wife would help with the fundraisers, cooking tamales. His wife is an incredible cook. He’s a huge part of everybody’s life. People see him every Sunday.”

White paused.

“I’m just thinking about all the children who are used to seeing him smiling and are not going to see him this Sunday,” he said softly, “and how painful that’s going to be.”

White said that Manriquez’ sons have handled their father’s situation bravely.

“(Enrique Jr.) was going to spend the summer working with him in the work that he does, basically property management, home renovation, that type of thing,” White said. “(Enrique Jr.) has been consumed with the practicalities of how to deal with this situation. He’s being very brave and practical about it. He’s 19 years old; it’s a lot to have laying on him.”

Catairina Manriquez, White said, has been praying frequently to Saint Toribio, a Mexican martyr considered the Patron Saint of immigrants in distress.

“Their life is here,” White said. “The children are Americans, as American as you or me. To fight it is definitely what they want to do, and what I want to help them do as best I can. ... This is home. He lived here for 20 years plus.”

St. Joseph has a large Hispanic congregation, White said, and he worries about the effect that Manriquez’ detainment and potential deportation will have on that population.

“They will recede into the shadows more because of this, and it just breaks my heart to see that,” White said. “I really have been trying to encourage them ... to try and overcome that sense of not belonging, not feeling like they have the same rights as human beings as everybody else. This is a really big push in the other direction.”

White said he has no problem admitting that he’s in favor of mass amnesty for illegal immigrants living in the United States.

“Criminals need to be punished,” White said. “But is it a crime for a person who is dedicated to working hard, contributing to society, raising a family, to be in our community? My answer to that question is no, it is not a crime. ... A law-abiding person has as much right to be here as I do. ... Why would we look at these people in any way other than as our neighbors? The language barrier is real, but it’s not insurmountable. ... I’ve got no problem saying I’m for as big an amnesty as they can come up with. Because an amnesty for what? For moving someplace and being a part of our lives? That’s not a crime.”

The Martinsville Bulletin has attempted to contact representatives from ICE on numerous occasions since Manriquez’ detainment. ICE had yet to reply to any of those inquiries as of Tuesday evening.

 

 
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