The mother of an Army Officer was ordered Wednesday to self-deport to Mexico in 30 days, after the federal government refused to grant her discretionary protections specifically for relatives of military service members.
Rocio Rebollar Gomez, 50, an unauthorized immigrant, has lived in San Diego for 31 years. She owns a small business, drives for Uber, has three children, three grandchildren and bought a house two years ago.
Her lawyer, Tessa Cabrera, believes Rebollar Gomez is exactly the type of person this type of protection from deportation was created for.
“This policy was written for people exactly like her,” Cabrera said. “She has no criminal history, she has U.S. citizen children, pays her taxes, she is the model recipient for deferred action.”
Rebollar Gomez’s son, Gibram Cruz, is a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army. He currently serves as an information officer in Arizona.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website, unauthorized people who are the spouses, widows, parents, or children of active-duty members of the U.S. armed forces, or military veterans who were not dishonorably discharged, are eligible for deferred action for up to two years.
“We recognize the important sacrifices made by U.S. service members, veterans, enlistees, and their families,” reads a statement on the agency’s website. “To support these individuals, we provide discretionary options such as parole in place or deferred action on a case-by-case basis.”
USCIS spokesperson Steve Blando, via email, said the agency cannot comment on specific cases.
Blando did not immediately respond to a follow up email asking about general reasons relatives of service members are denied this deferred action.
Rebollar Gomez originally applied for deferred action in April 2018, after ICE officers detained her for being in the country illegally. While her request for deferred action with USCIS was pending, ICE put her deportation on hold to wait for the request to be answered.
The family spent more than a year waiting for a reply. Cabrera reached out to the USCIS multiple times, even scheduling meetings to inquire about the status, but each time, she was told the application was pending.
“We were always positive that she was going to get it and really puzzled about why it was taking so long,” Cabrera said.
By GUSTAVO SOLIS for THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
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