Town businessman arrested by ICE, deported



A Plainville man was arrested by Immigration and Custom Enforcement officers while running errands with his wife on Dec. 7 and was deported on Dec. 27. He was being held at a detention facility in New Hampshire.

A press release from Connecticut Students for a Dream said Isaias Iriarte, father of two school-age daughters and a local business owner of El Paso Mexican Restaurant, was deported without notice and without seeing a judge. The Iriarte family has lived in Plainville for 20 years.

On Friday, Dec. 21, community members, family, friends and political figures gathered at the family’s restaurant in support of Iriarte. He had been in detention at the Bristol Country Sheriff’s Department in Massachusetts for two weeks at that time. The Connecticut Students for a Dream rallied for ICE to open a new case so that Isaias would have an opportunity to fight his case in court.

But, late in the evening on Dec. 26, the family received a call from Isaias upon his landing in Mexico.

“My heart is broken. It feels like it’s all a bad dream but I know it’s not,” said the man’s older daughter, Jalinne Iriarte, a college student. “I am not sure what our future will be like without him. Without my father working to support our family, I am not sure if I will continue attending college or if I have to stop and help my mother at the restaurant.”

Jalinne said the immigration system “has ripped our father from us during the holidays and put our futures on hold.”

Isaias’ younger daughter Bitsy, a Plainville High School student, said her father will not be around for her 18th birthday, or to see her walk down the stage during her graduation.

“I really thought deep  down in my heart that he would have come back to us, but he didn’t,” said Bitsy Iriarte. “We want to thank everyone who tried to help.”

Carolina Bortolleto, a representative of Connecticut Immigrants Rights Alliance, said ICE has used rogue tactics to dehumanize and terrorize communities.

“We will keep fighting until our whole communities are able to live in safety and dignity. The violence upon our communities will continue until the systems that are abusing, detaining, deporting, terrorizing and murdering our community are dismantled,” she said. “This is why we call on our federal delegation to vote down any and all funding for the deportation agencies of ICE.”

As the news hit social media, there were mixed responses. Many comments were posted supporting the Iriarte family, but many others took a different angle.

“He has only himself to blame,” said one person on Plainville Talks, a community Facebook page. “He played Russian roulette with the system and lost.”

“Illegal in the country? Should be deported,” said another commenter. “I’m not sure why folks don’t get it. If you do something illegal, be expected to have legal/administrative action taken against you.”

One commenter said to leave it to the elected officials.

“Who are any of us to say what laws to enforce or not enforce,” he said in a comment. “We elect politicians to office and they make the laws that we have to follow.”

Isais Iriarte, right, with his daughters Jalinne and Bitsy pose in this undated photograph. Immigration and Custom Enforcement recently arrested the owner of El Paso Mexican Restaurant. He was deported Dec. 27. (SUBMITTED)