Things That Matter

An American Teen With Leukemia Was Made To Fight Her Cancer On Her Own After Her Mother Was Deported To Mexico

The tragedy at the United States’ southern border has brought to light countless cases of human rights violations and downright unethical practices by the Customs and Border Protection Agency. Stories from these centers have encouraged comparisons to World War II concentration camps, and for good reason. Reports of family separation have included stories of men, women, and children dying in US Border custody have caused an outcry from citizens around the world. The refusal to provide basic hygienic and medical care to detainees has proven that the goal of detention is to dehumanize these migrants as much as it is to contain them. 

The heartache created by these accounts seems to be never-ending as we get a greater look at the lives impacted by the border crisis.

Most recently, the story of a young girl battling leukemia alone because of the Customs and Border Protection Agency has left us both heartbroken and enraged; but, luckily, it has a happy ending. 

Twitter / @ABC7

Ixcell Sandoval Perez is a 14-year-old cancer patient who is battling leukemia at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina. However, up until this morning, she has been doing so without her mother by her side. Her mother, Dalia Perez, was stuck across the border and was denied access to visit her daughter — despite Ixcell’s worsening condition. 

Ixcell was born in Raleigh, North Carolina but spent much of her girlhood in Chiapas, Mexico because her mother’s US visa expired back in 2010. The family was living in Mexico when Ixcell was diagnosed with the aggressive form of cancer. They made the decision to seek treatment back in the United States. However, getting back into the country was harder than it should have been for the American citizen. 

When the pair arrived at the border in Tijuana, Mexico, they were denied entry into the United States and detained.

Twitter / @RedTRaccoon

The pair was detained at the border facility for two days. During that time, Ixcell grew steadily worse and her mother received no information about when her daughter would be granted access to treatment. 

“They took everything away from us,” Dalia lamented in a video produced by Solidarity Now, a group that advocates for human rights for detainees at the southern border. “They took us into a room. In the afternoon, they left us in a cold room but it was so cold and my daughter was feeling so sick. I pounded on the door and shouted for them to open it, but no. My child was so thirsty but no one would listen to me.”

A relative living in the United States was eventually able to help Ixcell cross the border but her mother remained in Mexico. 

Twitter / @ACLU

Several petitions to allow Dalia into the States were made but she was denied every time. Local churches   such as Shepherd United Church of Christ in Cary came to the aid of the mother and daughter; visiting Ixcell and advocating for Dalia’s sake. 

“I just keep thinking that it’s unbelievable,” Pastor Carla Gregg-Kearns told local news team, ABC11. “I can’t believe or imagine what sort of reason there could be for her not being granted permission to come into the country to be with her daughter. Our faith makes it a no-brainer: of course you’re going to want to intervene and advocate on behalf of a child like this. We believe that our God is a god of life and desires that life is flourishing for all people.”

Back in June Ixcell’s cardiologist sent formal letters to Customs and Border Protection insisting that the reunion of mother and daughter was needed to help Ixcell’s prognosis. Congressman David Price also became involved in fighting for the unification of the mother and daughter.

All that fighting has paid off as Ixcell and her mother were finally reunited early Thursday morning. 

Twitter / @JoshChapinABC11

After months apart, the mother and daughter are finally in each other’s arms again. According to Customs and Border Protection, Dalia reapplied yet again for admission at the San Ysidro port of entry on August 27. The mother was then granted a temporary humanitarian waiver in order to enter the United States and rejoin Ixcell. Miles4Migrants, a donated frequent flyer program from migrants, helped provide the airline miles to bring Dalia home to her daughter. Additionally, Lawyer Moms of America and the ACLU applied pressure to Customs and Border Protection in order to have the temporary pass issued to Dalia.

The emergency pass is only issued in the direst of cases and it’s not clear for how long Dalia’s humanitarian waiver will keep her in the US. Hopefully, she will be able to be by Ixcell’s side all throughout her recovery.

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