Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials last week deported an undocumented California woman to Mexico following a citizen’s arrest that occurred as she protested a potentially illegal foreclosure on her home. Blanca Cardenas is married to an American citizen and has two children — one age 14, the other 17 months — who are both American citizens, but following her arrest, she was deported to Mexico with no money and nothing but the clothes on her back.
Cardenas was arrested outside her Los Angeles home on February 22 after protesting against what she believed was an illegal foreclosure on her home. According to a release from the California-based Occupy Fights Foreclosures, Cardenas disputed the eviction because it believes Bank of America filed fraudulent paperwork to begin the foreclosure process, and also because she was a part of federal bankruptcy proceedings, which protects against foreclosure.
After Cardenas was the subject of a citizen’s arrest (allegedly initiated by an investor who had bought the home), she was detained by Los Angeles Police Department officers and turned over to ICE, leading to another legal dispute. According to the activists backing Cardenas, the local Sheriff’s Department, not LAPD, has jurisdiction over foreclosures and evictions. ICE deported Cardenas to Mexico on February 29.
“It’s been devastating since they took her,” said Gerardo Quinones, Blanca’s husband. “She was deported with nothing but the clothes on her, she didn’t have money or anything else. She had every right to fight for her home and believed the authorities would protect her.”
As Firedoglake’s David Dayen noted, the Obama administration had ordered reviews of undocumented immigrants with no prior criminal record. Occupy activists claim that Cardenas has no prior record and is a “non-priority” undocumented immigrant, but according to ICE officials, she had been previously deported to Mexico in 2002. Upon her arrest, ICE “reinstated her prior order of removal,” according to a statement, which also said the agency’s enforcement “prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens, recent border crossers and egregious immigration law violators, such as those who have been previously removed from the United States.”
Foreclosure fraud and abuse has been prevalent across the country and particularly in California. Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) launched an investigation into foreclosure fraud in December, and a recent audit of 400 San Francisco-area foreclosures found that nearly all of them had legal issues. California Occupy activists have called on banks and federal housing authorities to halt foreclosures until a full investigation into foreclosure fraud is complete.