EVERETT — Monday would have been Irvin Enriquez Olvera’s first day of his spring quarter at the University of Washington Bothell.
The senior didn’t make it to campus.
On Thursday, Enriquez Olvera and his parents, who hail from Snohomish County, were detained by the U.S. Border Patrol while vacationing in Arizona.
He traveled with his wife, Raquel Enriquez, and his parents, Roberto Enriquez and Candelaria Olvera.
The family was headed to a 4 p.m. tour of Kartchner Caverns State Park in their rental car, Enriquez said.
They were early, so they explored side roads to kill time. That’s when agents stopped them, she said.
“They pulled us over and began to question us on where we were coming from, where we were going,” she said. “The officer made a comment about our vehicle, that the vehicle was too fancy and not common to be driven off-road.”
The agent arrested Enriquez Olvera and his parents, leaving his 21-year-old wife alone in the car.
Aside from a minute-long phone conversation with her husband, Enriquez said she’s received little information in the days since her family’s arrest.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website lists Enriquez Olvera as “in custody.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not respond to requests for comment in time for this story.
Enriquez Olvera, 30, graduated from Everett Community College in 2017. He’s now pursuing a degree in biology and is interning at Seattle Children’s Research Institute with hopes of becoming a pediatric trauma surgeon.
Enriquez Olvera works with researcher Laura Sotelo Guerra at the Institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development.
There, he helps improve the experience of Spanish-speaking families who come to the hospital’s clinic.
“You can just feel how much energy and motivation he has to help his community,” Sotelo Guerra said. “And from his resume, you can see he has helped in many ways. He’s a kind and motivated individual who’s just hoping to help the next person and learn the next thing.”
Throughout his education, Enriquez Olvera has helped maintain the family business, Enriquez Tires — a shop on Broadway near Safeway in Everett.
Laura Blackett met Enriquez Olvera seven years ago when they were counselors at bilingual leadership camp La Cima.
Enriquez Olvera was in his early teens when his family moved to the U.S.
For a few years, he stopped attending class, Blackett said. By the time she met him, he was back in school.
While getting his diploma from EvCC, Enriquez said Enriquez Olvera was involved with the college’s Diversity and Equity Center and advocated for immigrant rights.
He’s traveled all over the country to help organize marches, Blackett said.
Enriquez Olvera’s sister, Andrea Enriquez Olvera, said her parents originally came to the U.S. because they felt they couldn’t find a safe neighborhood to raise their children.
Their father, formerly a surgical nurse in Mexico, started working on farms. He sold tires on the side, and the family eventually opened their own used tire shop.
Enriquez said her in-laws and husband often go out of their way to help those in need.
“They’re the kind of people that will get up extra early to pack healthy lunches and give them to homeless people on their way to work,” she said.
The family provides rides to those experiencing homelessness so they can get a haircut or check in at a shelter.
“We have been in this state for about 16 years and this is all we know,” Andrea Enriquez Olvera said. “My parents have worked hard and are contributing members of society. They have no criminal record. They’re people who are trying to help.”
Family friend Griselda Guevara is maintaining a Facebook page with updates on the family’s situation.
As of Monday, Guevara wrote that all three are at a federal facility in Tucson.
“They are waiting on space to be transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” she wrote. “We will be able to proceed with updates once we receive confirmation from the Mexican Consulate that they’ve been transferred to and processed in an ICE detention center.”
Enriquez, Andrea Enriquez Olvera and Guevara are in Tucson, awaiting news on the family’s whereabouts.
A few weeks ago, Blackett said Enriquez Olvera drove from Snohomish to visit her in West Seattle. He does this every so often just to catch up and say hello, or to celebrate one of her kid’s birthdays, she said.
“I just need to know where my boy is and when he’s coming home,” Blackett said.
More info: https://www.gofundme.com/free-the-enriquez-family
Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; jgsanders@heraldnet.