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Forest Grove woman whose car struck and killed two sisters will go to immigration center

The courtroom phase of the leaf-pile tragedy in which two young Forest Grove sisters were struck and killed by Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros came to an end Friday with her sentencing by Washington County Circuit Court Judge Rick Knapp.

Abigail Robinson, 11, and Anna Dieter-Eckerdt, 6, died after being struck by Garcia's vehicle on Main Street last October.

“The most important factor is what the family of the victims want,” said Knapp, referring to statements from some of the parents involved who asked that Garcia (she does not use Cisneros) serve probation and community service rather than jail time.

Knapp sentenced the 19-year-old Forest Grove resident to three years of formal probation on each count of “failing to perform the duties of a driver,” along with 250 hours of community service — unless she is immediately deported.

The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) put a hold on Garcia when she was arrested for two counts of “failure to perform the duties of a driver,” a class B felony.

Brought illegally to the U.S. from Mexico at age 4, Garcia recently gained legal status under the federal Deferred Action Childhood Arrival program, but her status is threatened by the felony charges she was convicted of Jan. 15.

According to Garcia’s immigration lawyer, Courtney Carter, Garcia will automatically be sent to the ICE holding center in Tacoma, Wash., where Carter will argue first for Garcia’s short-term release in order to be returned to Oregon, where she can serve out her probation sentence and the required community service.

Carter said she had a “strong argument” in that case, but after Garcia completes her community service she will still face deportation and with the felony on her record, there was “grave danger” of losing that battle.

Carter said she expected to have a release hearing for Garcia in Tacoma sometime in mid- to late-February and expected the bail amount to be $10,000 to $20,000.

Knapp ordered Garcia to report to the Washington County Probation Department within two days of her release if an ICE judge lets her leave the Tacoma center.

Carter also told Knapp that his sentence could influence the decision of whatever immigration judge hears Garcia’s case in Tacoma.

“The gravity of your decision would come into play,” she said.

Before pronouncing the sentence, Knapp noted that “The grief in this courtroom is palpable and I don’t want to add to it.”

In addition to the probation and community service, Knapp fined Garcia $200 for each felony and ordered her not to have any contact with the victims’ parents without permission of the Washington County Probation Department — unless any of the parents takes the initiative to visit Garcia in Tacoma before she had a chance to get permission from probation officials.

Tersia Theel, Abigail’s biological mother, has expressed an interest in visiting with Garcia and in keeping her out of jail or prison.

Based on a variety of evidence, Knapp said, Garcia was “an exemplary member of our community before this happened” and would suffer from the consequences of the accident regardless of her sentence. “That’s going to be haunting you the rest of your life,” he told her.

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