Federal immigration authorities released a brief statement on the arrest and detention of a 21-year-old Portland man who is recovering after being hit by a car in January.
“ICE is committed to ensuring the health and welfare of all those in its custody,” wrote Rose Richeson, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson.
The man’s family held a press conference Wednesday and shared new details about Emmanuel Ayala Frutos, who is being held at the Northwest Immigration Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington.
They said they have grave concerns about his mental and physical well-being in detention.
His older sister, Rocio Ayala, said Emmanuel is still on crutches and needs help taking care of himself.
“He told me he hasn’t been able to take a shower. He can’t do it by himself,” Ayala said. “He can’t really move around right now because they haven’t given him a wheelchair.”
Emmanuel Ayala Frutos is from Mexico. He came to the United States when he was 6, and grew up in Portland’s St. John’s neighborhood.
In 2013, he received status through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an immigration program that allows some people who came to the United States as children to receive work permits and two-year deferrals from deportation. In exchange, recipients — often referred to as “Dreamers” — must provide authorities with their personal information and fingerprints.
Ayala Frutos was in the process of trying to renew his DACA status when he was arrested, according to the ACLU of Oregon, which is advocating for his release.
Ayala Frutos was skateboarding in North Portland in January when he was hit by a car. He broke his right femur and left tibia. The injury to his left leg was a serious compound fracture and the bone tore through his skin.
Ayala Frutos spent several weeks in the hospital while he had surgeries and skin grafts on his left leg. That wound is still healing.
“We had to change his dressing every other day,” Ayala said.
She described her brother as a kid who struggled to learn to read in school but was determined to succeed. He attended summer school and took night classes to graduate from high school on time with the rest of his class.
Ayala said she’s close to her brother, and sometimes the family jokes that she’s his second mother.
“I’m the oldest. I’m bilingual, so I’ve always helped him with his homework,” she said. “I’m good at helping people. That’s how he is also.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a brief statement Thursday about Frutos’s arrest. Frutos was among 84 people in the Northwest arrested by ICE and targeted for deportation in a recent enforcement action that included 36 immigrants in Oregon.
“Deportation officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested Mr. Ayala March 26. He was targeted for immigration enforcement based on prior criminal convictions,” said Richeson.
Frutos had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor knife possession charge in Clark County, Washington, last November, according to the ACLU of Oregon, which is working with his family.
The DACA program requires its participants not be convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor.
ICE says of the 84 people it targeted in the immigration enforcement action that ended Monday, 60 had prior criminal convictions. DUI was the most common offense (19 people), followed by assault, larceny, and domestic violence.
Ayala said she’s spoken to her brother on the phone a few times since he arrived at the detention center. He’s told her he’s making friends there.
But she said she’s sick with worry over his mental health.
Ayala said last year her brother suffered a breakdown that led to his hospitalization in a psychiatric unit for a week. He stopped sleeping, stopped eating, and grew fearful of his family.
She said he suffered from a second episode of mental illness during his hospitalization after the car accident and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
“Being hospitalized for the car accident was kind of a blessing because he was able to get the right treatment, finally,” she said. “He was back to being a happy kid again.”
Ayala said her brother was able to refill his prescription at the detention center, but she’s scared the stress and disruption in his life could lead him to relapse into mental illness.
“Thinking that he might go through that again is really, really scary because I lived it,” she said. “[He went] from being a happy friendly kid to being a kid who was afraid to even come out of his room.”
ICE did not comment specifically on the medical care Ayala Frutos has received, but provided a general statement on the standard of care detention centers provide.
All detainees receive medical, dental, and mental health intake screenings following their arrival at the Northwest Immigration Detention Center.
“When a medical condition is identified, the detainee is scheduled to see a medical provider within 24 hours for a full physical evaluation,” Richeson said.
President Donald Trump has made conflicting statements about his plans for the DACA program, a signature policy of President Barack Obama.
As a candidate on the campaign trail, Trump promised to end the program “immediately.” Then, in a press conference in February, he said DACA was a difficult subject for him and said, “we’re going to show great heart” for the people participating in the program.
The New York Times reported that Trump was coming under pressure from immigration hard-liners in his Republican base over his apparent softening position on the program.
Ayala said she finds it stressful to listen to the president’s statements on television and has tried not to follow the news too closely.
She’s hoping ICE releases her brother.
This week, ICE detained another DACA recipient, Francisco Rodriguez Dominguez, who had a misdemeanor drunk driving charge. Rogriguez Dominguez was released on bail after just a few days.
“I miss him. I miss him so much,” Ayala said of her brother. “I just want him home as soon as possible.”
This story has been updated to include a written statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.