Humboldt County Mother of Four Granted Release from Immigration Detention After Seven Months

18 June 2018 (San Francisco, California)  — Claudia Portillo, an undocumented Arcata resident and mother to four daughters, has been granted release on a $12,000 bond after seven months of immigration detention, and her community is arranging to pay for her release. The North Coast community has advocated for Ms. Portillo’s release both at home in Humboldt and Del Norte counties and in San Francisco with community events, online fundraisers and direct support to her family.

At 6:00 AM on Monday, June 18th a convoy from Humboldt and Del Norte Counties embarked on a six-hour-long drive south to San Francisco Immigration Court demanded the return of their undocumented friend and neighbor, Ms. Portillo. After hearing her plea, Judge Patrick S. O’Brien granted her release on bond. He is one of only 334 immigration judges nationwide struggling to overcome an average backlog of 1,849 cases per judge. A 2017 article uncovered that only 15 percent of people in detention are represented by an attorney in San Francisco's immigration courts. Judge O’Brien stated in the hearing that while he was granting Ms. Portillo release on bond, the Department of Homeland Security has the ability to appeal his ruling to delay her release.

Ms. Portillo was unexpectedly detained during a routine check-in appointment in November 2017 and imprisoned her 555 miles away from her four daughters in the privately owned Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield, CA. Just 33 years old, Ms. Portillo was born in El Salvador, but has lived in the United States from age seven. Her four American daughters, four rescued dogs, mother, two sisters, nieces, and brother await her return to Arcata, CA, where she has lived for the past four years.

“My sister has been stuck in detention for seven months. She has missed her daughters’ birthdays and graduations.” Explained Ms. Portillo’s sister Jenny Ventura.

“Claudia is a strong, vital part of our community and is enduring something unthinkable for most of us… waiting in detention for more than 7 months! This is wrong! Claudia is not a criminal. She is a lovely human being who deserves better than this.” urged Mckinleyville, CA resident and True North Organizing Network Leader Lisa Enge.

Among the community groups that for Claudia Portillo’s return are True North Organizing Network, Arcata United Methodist Church, Catalyst Church, Humboldt Move to Amend, Centro Del Pueblo, among others. Los Bagels donated breakfast and snacks to the convoy that traveled from Humboldt County to San Francisco. Congressman Jared Huffman, who represents Ms. Portillo’s congressional district, wrote a letter to Judge O’Brien requesting her release. Over the past week, a community fundraiser has raised more than $8,000 in online and in cash donations, and both individuals and community groups are arranging to cover the rest of the $12,000 cost of her release. Claudia may be home with her family this week.

Interviewees Available

Contact Brenda Urueta at (707) 318-0188, to be connected to:

  • Jenny Ventura: Claudia’s youngest sister.

  • Eliada Bernal Portillo: Claudia’s eleven year old daughter.

  • Brenda Urueta. True North Organizing Network’s Humboldt County Organizer and campaign leader.

  • Pastor Bethany Cseh, True North Organizing Network community leader and #FreeClaudia campaign volunteer.

  • Other True North Organizing Network community leaders and #FreeClaudia campaign volunteers can be identified upon request.


11/23/2017 The Lost Coast Outpost. McKinleyville Mother of Four Faces Deportation After Being Detained by ICE