Just months after settling a lawsuit over a sexual assault case, U.S. immigration officials today in Billings detained, and plan to deport, a man who entered the U.S. illegally.
The father of eight moved to Montana 20 years ago, and had no problem with customs – until now.
Audemio Orozco-Ramirez was arrested Wed. in Billings during his monthly check-in with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE.
Orozco-Ramirez met monthly with ICE officials for four years without incident.
His oldest son, whose name we’re withholding because of his concern about his own immigration status, told YPR that this month’s meeting with ICE officials came as a surprise.
“Every first Tuesday of the month he'd come down and meet my brother," Orozco-Ramirez's oldest son said. "He called and asked if he was supposed to show up Tuesday. And they said 'No, come in Wednesday.' And we thought it was just going to be another routine check-in. I guess not. He was just, they were waiting for him to arrest him.”
The Associated Press reports that in Dec. southwestern Montana's Jefferson County agreed to pay Orozco-Ramirez $125,000 to end his lawsuit claiming that he was raped in the county jail in 2013.
The jail is a federally contracted facility, and Orozco-Ramirez was being held by immigration officials who determined he was not in the country legally after moving to Montana from Mexico over 20 years ago.
Orozco-Ramirez was arrested after a routine traffic stop in Shelby, MT and couldn’t prove that he entered the country legally.
Tricia Decker met the Orozco-Ramirez family at a church vigil in Billings three Christmases ago, after reading about Audemio’s sexual assault.
She has since been an advocate for the family, showing up regularly to spend time with them every month as some of the kids wait for their dad to finish the routine check-in with ICE officials.
She had plans to take the kids back to school shopping today, until their father was detained.
“I mean it’s just horrific when you think about the implications for these nine family members. Whether they stay here, whether they continue in school," said Decker.
The Associated Press typically does not name rape victims, but Orozco-Ramirez has talked publicly about his case.