Washington, D.C. — Cecilia Gomez went to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Las Vegas for a green card interview in March and never came out. Instead, she was shoved against a desk by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and put on a bus to the border.
Now, the mother of three U.S. citizens is occupying a jail cell at Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. Yesterday, her children, current lawyer, and supporters spoke out publicly for the first time about her case.
“There are no hidden facts here,” said Laura Barrera of the UNLV Immigration Clinic. “She really is a mom of three kids, and they’re U.S. citizens and they’re just trying to get her legal status.”
Gomez’ eldest son, who petitioned for her to obtain legal permanent residency, is in college. Her youngest son, Eric, is 13 years old. He told reporters yesterday: “We’ve never been through this, so it’s very difficult. We just want her to come home.”
Ricardo, Gomez’ middle son, is trying to be the man of the house. He said: “We are mourning right now. We don’t know how to handle this situation. I’m trying to be as strong as I can be, trying to handle the situation, trying to handle school, trying to handle (Eric). It’s a lot.”
Gomez has lived in the United States for more than twenty years. Her eldest son, Yonathan, was finally old enough to petition for his mother to obtain legal permanent residency, and they began the process a year ago. What was supposed to be a routine green card interview turned into a Kafkaesque nightmare for Cecilia and her children, causing needless pain for a family on the verge of getting their mother’s immigration status legalized.
“Cecilia Gomez had a path to legal status and she was following it. The fact that the government would rather deport her than allow her to follow this path is outrageously cruel,” said Lynn Tramonte, deportation defense coordinator with America’s Voice. “Arresting and detaining her is absolutely senseless. The only reason to do something like this is to show that you can. This is where immigration policy is at under Trump: indiscriminate, mass deportation without any regard for common sense, or any concern for the lives of those left behind – even if they are American children.
“Cecilia should be on her way to getting a green card now. Instead, she’s sitting in a jail cell at Eloy Detention Center. Our tax dollars are keeping her incarcerated. This is outrageously cruel treatment of an ordinary American family, and an outrageous misuse of our tax dollars. The government must release Cecilia immediately,” Tramonte said.
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