She prayed for a miracle for the past 30 days as media attention around her case escalated. But in the end, the mother of a U.S. Army intelligence officer was deported on Thursday to Tijuana.
The removal, based on previous deportations, had been scheduled for about a month, when her requests to be allowed to stay in the United States were denied. Despite that, Rocio Rebollar Gomez, 51, held out hope until the very last moment that the federal government would show her mercy and allow her to remain with her family.
“I’m only asking for an opportunity that they let me stay with my family, that they don’t separate us,” said Rebollar Gomez in Spanish shortly before her scheduled appointment to self-deport Thursday morning. “They’re separating me from my family forever. I don’t have a hope of seeing them after.”
Rebollar Gomez’s son, 2nd Lt. Gibram Cruz, 30, is not allowed to travel to foreign countries without getting permission from the military, a long and complicated process. Neither her youngest daughter, nor her grandchildren, have their passports.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency responsible for deportations, did not respond to a request for comment about her deportation.
The agency previously said Rebollar Gomez’s pending deportation was “in accordance with federal law.”
“The immigration laws of the United States allow an alien to pursue relief from removal; however, once they have exhausted all due process and appeals, they remain subject to a final order of removal from an immigration judge and that order must be carried out,” ICE said in mid-December.
Rebollar Gomez first came to the United States in 1988. She was picked up in the mid-’90s in a workplace raid and quickly taken out of the country.
She was removed again twice in the mid-2000s, falling short of the requirements for one program that would have allowed her to stay because of that previous departure. Each time that she left, she crossed illegally back into the U.S. to return to her young children.
When she was picked up again in 2018 through an anonymous phone call that sent ICE to the store she owned near the house she had just bought, she told federal officials that she was afraid to go back to Mexico.
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SOURCE: LA Times, Kate Morrissey