MENDOTA, Calif. - A Mendota woman slated to be deported to Mexico next month, is safe from deportation at least for now. Her attorney has agreed to terms with the Chief Counsel of ICE so they can take another look at her case. Just last Thursday, Maria Barrera reported to the Fresno ICE office for questioning, given until June 12 to leave her family. But her lawyer kept fighting to get Barrera's case reopened.
Each page in the Barrera's family album brings out a smile reminding these four of the love they share. Eliseo and Emily say emotions ran high this past week preparing for their mother Maria to leave the US where she spent 28 years.
"Just to think about having to go to an airport to say our last goodbyes and who knows if we were ever going to have time to go visit her in Mexico. It was just terrifying," said Eliseo.
Immigration Attorney Isabel Machado says she worked tirelessly to get her client's removal case reopened by the immigration court. Machado says she spoke one on one with the Chief Counsel of ICE, explaining Barrera's dedication to the community, her husband's temporary protected status and their two children born and raised in the United States. But ICE needed to confirm one more important piece of information.
"Which is whether or not there was any criminal arrest or arrest history which is paramount for them and there is none," said Machado.
Machado says ICE agreed to sign a joint motion to reopen the case meaning Barrera won't be removed. Barrera says she's relieved and happy to know she doesn't have to worry about an ICE agent at her doorstep. Her husband says after 22 years of marriage. He couldn't imagine losing his wife on his birthday.
Machado says she expects Barrera's hearing to happen early next year and the removal case will most likely be terminated.
"And then she'll file for permanent residency along with her husband and she'll finally become a legal permanent resident after all these years," said Machado.
"We're just going to learn to value her more, more than ever," said Eliseo.
Barrera's attorney why her client's case will have to wait until next year. She says immigration court is backlogged with too many cases right now.