Dozens demonstrate at Tacoma detention center

TACOMA, Wash. - Several dozen protesters stood in the cold rain for hours Monday morning, chanting and demonstrating outside the federal Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.

"We are people. We are not illegal," they shouted in unison.

Organizers with the Not One More Deportation campaign say they stood out there to prevent people from being deported - people like Michelle Manrique's husband, Miguel Manrique Valdez.

"That's my husband - I love him with all my heart. That's all we've got," Michelle said. Her husband told her he believed he'd be deported on Monday.

Several buses left the facility during the demonstration. Each time, protesters ran to try to stop them. One carried a sign that says, "Please don't send my daddy back home. I need him here."

While they locked arms to block the streets, Michelle ran to put herself in the way of what she believed was a bus taking her husband away.

"I tried to stop my husband from being deported, and I got arrested. He's not a criminal since 2001. He hasn't even had a speeding ticket," she said.

Michelle walked right up to the large shuttle bus, her body touching the bumper.

Tacoma police officers handcuffed her and took her away as the bus continued on.

Michelle's daughter, Angellina Manrique Ricker, who's just 14, was there with her mother when the bus drove off.

"I may have just watched my dad be taken, and I may never get to see him again," Angellina said. She said she has a 3 1/2-month-old brother and "that's not fair to him. He doesn't deserve to grow up without a father."

Officers cited Michelle and then released her a few minutes later.

She and her daughter Angellina explained that Miguel Manrique's been behind bars at the Detention Center since September when undercover immigration agents went to their Vancouver apartment and arrested him.

"The way they treated him when they took him, it was disgusting," says Angellina. "It was like the scum on the bottom of their shoe."

Several dozen protesters, some of them undocumented immigrants, said they pay taxes and are here in the United States to make a difference and don't deserve to be separated from their families.

They say they've been promised immigration reform for years - with no action.

Tacoma police say report just the one arrest and say that all protesters had gone by 9:45 a.m.