An executive action taken by the Obama administration to delay the deportation of illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children was not supposed to extend to anyone convicted of a felony. Nevertheless, it will extend to a 19-year-old woman convicted of a felony hit-and-run killing of two young girls in Oregon.
In this March 21, 2014 photo, Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, 19, speaks in a room at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash. An immigration judge has dismissed the case against Garcia-Cisneros, who faced possible deportation to Mexico after she drove an SUV into a leaf pile, accidentally killing two young girls playing in it. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014 said that Garcia-Cisneros was released on Aug. 14. (AP Photo/The Oregonian, Benjamin Brink)
Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros was convicted in January in the deaths of stepsisters Abigail Robinson, 11, and Anna Dieter-Eckerdt, 6, in October 2013, after she drove over a pile of leaves the two girls were playing in. Though hitting the girls was accidental, Garcia-Cisneros and her boyfriend tried to cover up the incident, which occurred in Forest Grove, Oregon, near Portland.
Garcia-Cisneros received three years' probation and 250 hours of community service for not coming forward, but was being held at the ICE Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, pending a deportation hearing.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials wouldn't discuss specifics in the decision to drop the case to remove Garcia-Cisneros from the country, citing privacy issues, the Associated Press reported. She arrived in the United States illegally with her parents when she was 4.
She was released from the Washington state federal facility last week, but her felony conviction still disqualified her from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or so it seemed.
Because of the immigration court's decision, Garcia-Cisneros is now again protected under deferred action, her immigration attorney Courtney Carter told the Forest Grove News-Times. The newspaper described it as a “different kind of deferred action claim” that was granted by the court that “negates the charges of deportability.” Carter declined to tell the paper what specific arguments she made.
Garcia-Cisneros was driving the Nissan Pathfinder owned by the mother of her boyfriend, Mario Echeverria, who pleaded guilty to hindering the prosecution because he took the vehicle in for a car wash to remove evidence, according to the Oregonian. Under the plea agreement, Echeverria was sentenced to 13 months in prison.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, was enacted by the Obama administration in 2012 without approval from Congress, and granted legal protection to younger illegal immigrants who were in the country because of decisions made by their parents to come to the country illegally. One of the provisions in the program was that it only protected those not convicted of a crime.
The parents of the two girls killed said in statements to the media they forgive Garcia-Cisneros.
The Oregonian reported that she may be participating in a restorative justice program in which she would speak to schools, churches and other community groups about what she learned from the experience.