The officers were looking for people, and seemingly for specific people. For the peninsula’s Spanish-speaking families, this fact led to some urgent questions. How were the officers picking their targets? And how did they find them? To arrest someone, ICE had to know who was who, and who was undocumented, and who lived where, and who drove what — but how could its officers know all this?
As families waited for answers, they hid more often in their homes, drawing the blinds, skipping volleyball games and birthday parties. But life went on. In early June from the safety of one of the Tijuanita apartments, a woman named Gladys Díaz Tadeo, the mother of three young daughters, posted a photo on Facebook of her family’s latest art project, a smiling piñata in the shape of a cupcake, which her proud 4-year-old struggled to hold up for the camera. Comments came pouring in.
“Que bonitas,” wrote one neighbor. “Do you make them yourself?”
Díaz’s sister Maria answered for her, “Yes, she makes them 🙂 she made me this,” and shared images of other piñatas Díaz made, including a perfect rendition of the Dalmatian puppy from the cartoon “Paw Patrol.”
The cupcake was for sale — $20 — but there was no immediate buyer, and Díaz’s post, visible only to the roughly 10,000 other members of Chinookville, a private buy/sell Facebook group for the region, soon moved down the feed.
It is very likely that Díaz was already a target when she posted the piñata, very likely that ICE already knew her full name and address and license-plate number and social-media handles, had mapped out her family members’ names, their social-media handles. When not in the field, Miller, Dietz and their colleagues spent long days at their computers at the ICE office in Portland, Ore., two hours from the peninsula, gathering intelligence and building target lists, some for daily operations, some for nationwide raids like those Trump repeatedly advertised last summer. Because Díaz had been caught a decade earlier trying to enter the country with a fake green card — she successfully slipped in the next day — she would have been marked as a priority for deportation.
On June 23, Miller and Dietz woke before dawn, as they frequently did, and began driving north up the peninsula, possibly from the tourist town of Long Beach, where they often overnighted at the Best Western. The air was still that morning, and the spring rains had finally stopped, and by the time the officers pulled off the road near Tijuanita, the sun was coming up. They began watching cars go by. One of the first to pass, a white pickup on its way to the port, was driven by Díaz’s longtime boyfriend and the American-born girls’ father, Baltazar Aburto Gutierrez, who is better known as Rosas. He recognized the officers and waved to them out the window — an act of quiet defiance. They waved back, Rosas says.
For most of the next few hours, according to the sheriff’s dispatch records, Miller and Dietz kept sitting there. At 9:57 a.m., Miller called in to say they were clearing out. As apparently happened in April and again earlier in June, they were leaving empty-handed. But then, 18 minutes later, he called back. “Sorry to keep bothering you guys,” he said, chuckling apologetically.
“That’s O.K.,” the dispatcher replied.
“We’re headed back up to Ocean Park,” he said. “We think our person is going to be heading over to the Bank of the Pacific.”
When Rosas returned home, a little after 10 a.m., he found Díaz loading the piñata — and their daughters — into her car. Someone on Facebook had just responded to her ad. It was a person using a Hispanic name who didn’t seem to speak much Spanish, someone she’d never met whose profile picture was of a dog. (When she tried to find the page again a few weeks later, it was gone.)
She was meeting the person next to Okie’s at Bank of the Pacific.
“Why don’t they just come here?” Rosas asked her. “Gladys, wait, don’t go,” he yelled after her as she drove off, but maybe she didn’t hear him.
Miller and Dietz were waiting when Díaz pulled up to the bank. “Are you Gladys Díaz?” one asked. They showed her a printout they had somehow obtained of her Washington State driver’s license. Her girls began to cry. “I don’t want them to take you!” the oldest screamed. Díaz tried to calm her. “You don’t need to get upset,” she whispered. “It’s nothing. Let’s see what happens.”
Some peninsula residents arrested by ICE got to pay a bond — $10,000, $15,000, maybe $20,000 — and were released back into the community as they waited months or years for their day in immigration court. But Díaz, with a previous deportation on her record, would not be one of them. The officers handcuffed her, and 24 hours later, Díaz was in a private detention center near Seattle. Three weeks later, she was deported to Mexico, where she began bouncing among relatives’ homes in her native Jalisco, separated by 2,600 miles from her daughters.
These people are the scum of the earth. At least the head of the fascist agency is sad.