EVERETT — Members of the Enriquez Olvera family were released Tuesday from federal custody after being held since March.
Irvin Enriquez Olvera and his parents, Mexican natives who have been living in Snohomish County, were detained by the U.S. Border Patrol while vacationing in Arizona almost two weeks ago.
Enriquez Olvera, Roberto Enriquez and Candelaria Olvera were headed home to Washington on Tuesday afternoon, family friend Griselda Guevara said.
Their departure comes as the U.S. increases the speedy release of migrant families amid overcrowding in immigrant processing and holding centers, according to The Associated Press. A recent surge of families crossing into the U.S. has pushed the system past capacity. In the last three months, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has set free about 22,000 immigrants in Arizona.
The Enriquez Olvera family was on their way to a late afternoon tour of Kartchner Caverns State Park near Tucson in their rental car when they were detained.
They were early, so they explored side roads to kill time. That’s when agents stopped them, Enriquez said.
They traveled with Raquel Enriquez, Enriquez Olvera’s wife.
“They pulled us over and began to question us on where we were coming from, where we were going,” she said previously. “The officer made a comment about our vehicle, that the vehicle was too fancy and not common to be driven off-road.”
The agent arrested Enriquez Olvera and his parents, leaving his 21-year-old wife alone in the car.
Enriquez Olvera, 30, graduated from Everett Community College in 2017. He’s now a senior studying biology at the University of Washington Bothell and is interning at Seattle Children’s Research Institute with hopes of becoming a pediatric trauma surgeon.
There, he helps improve the experience of Spanish-speaking families who come to the hospital’s clinic.
Enriquez Olvera’s sister, Andrea Enriquez Olvera, said her parents originally came to the U.S. 16 years ago because they felt they couldn’t find a safe neighborhood to raise their children.
She said her parents came to the U.S. on tourist visas and have overstayed.
Their father, formerly a surgical nurse in Mexico, started out working on farms. He sold tires on the side, and the family eventually opened their own used tire shop, Enriquez Tires, on Broadway in Everett.
Enriquez said her in-laws and husband often go out of their way to help those in need, such as packing healthy lunches and giving them to homeless people on their way to work.
Guevara is maintaining a Facebook page with updates on the family’s situation.
ICE has given the three family members notices to appear before a judge for a hearing, according to the office of U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, a Democrat who represents Washington’s 1st District.
Enriquez Olvera and his father have preliminary hearings scheduled later this month in Arizona. His mother’s hearing is scheduled for May in Washington. Officials in DelBene’s office said they have been working closely with the family and immigration officials to help resolve the situation.
Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.