It’s been over a year since oncology nurse Maria Mendoza-Sanchez and her husband were deported to Mexico, becoming emblematic of the Trump administration’s cruel tactics targeting immigrants with no criminal record while simultaneously claiming the exact opposite. With three older children choosing to remain here, Mendoza-Sanchez pledged to keep fighting in order return home to the U.S. Last Friday, she found out she had won that fight.
“The journey home required a winning ticket in a visa lottery this spring, then a series of approvals from agencies in a Trump administration that has taken an increasingly hard line on immigration from Latin America,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported. “The visa is an H-1B, reserved for skilled workers such as nurses in hospital cancer wards.”
That visa, sponsored by the Oakland, California hospital where she had so lovingly helped care for her patients, will allow her to live and work here for six years, and, most importantly, be with her kids again. “I’m very happy,” she said, with the Associated Press (AP) reporting that the family will continue fighting to return dad Eusebio. “I can’t wait to see those kids and hug them and help them.”
Despite support from leaders including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made Mendoza-Sanchez a priority for deportation, even though she had no criminal record and had been checking in with them for years. That changed following Donald Trump’s inauguration.
When ICE denied her request to stay here last summer, Mendoza-Sanchez and her husband were forced to make the hard choice to bring their 12-year-old son, a U.S. citizen, with them. But just two months later, “the unfamiliar surroundings, language and school system were too much for him,” the San Francisco Chronicle continued, “and she sent him back to Oakland.” Mendoza-Sanchez’s attorney said that once “the visa is placed in her passport,” she, too, will be coming home.
“Given the importance of family unity and Maria’s contributions to her community, I’m pleased this wrong is finally being rectified,” Feinstein said. “This is the kind of common sense and compassion our immigration system desperately needs more of.”
But the fight still continues for so many other families. Like the Mendoza-Sanchez family, Michigan’s Garcia family was similarly torn apart by the administration, when dad Jorge was deported in January after three decades here and no criminal record. “It was a death,” his wife Cindy said, “and we knew the death was coming.” While she has become an advocate for immigrant families, her husband remains in Mexico. What all these families ultimately need is permanent protections.
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