Things That Matter

An Army Veteran’s Mom Was Deported Back To Mexico After Showing Up For A Meeting With ICE

Imagine living in the United States for 31 years, raising your kids there, have a son enrol in the Army to defend your adopted country and then suddenly being deported to a country you no longer recognize as your own. Well, that is what the mother of an Army Officer experienced a few weeks ago in a case that has caught the media’s attention. Her son argues that her case was mishandled and that she should not have been sent to Tijuana, where she knows almost no one.

Military families make huge sacrifices to serve their country and even though special deferrals are sometimes granted, they hold their breath expecting the worst. And the worst is exactly what ends up happening sometimes. 

The beginning of 2020 spelled doom for Rocio Rebollar Gomez y su familia as she was sent to Mexico after building a life in the United States.

Rebollar Gomez, now 51-years-old, had three children in the United States, including 30-year-old Second Lt. Gibram Cruz, who has served in the army for half a decade. She has a life in the United States and had hired a lawyer to deal with her migratory status in the best possible way. She even was scheduled to self-deport and had agreed on that with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

She attended a meeting with ICE, not knowing that the authorities would deport her then and there! 

Gibram Cruz has called ICE’s actions inhumane. As The New York Times reports, ICE acted on the first opportunity they got to deport Rocio Rebollar Gomez to Mexico: “Ms. Gomez, 51, was previously scheduled to self deport and that plan was known to ICE, the family’s lawyer, Tessa Cabrera, said on Friday. Instead, as the family went to an ICE office to discuss her case, Ms. Gomez was taken across the border to Tijuana without a chance to say goodbye, Ms. Cabrera said”. This is just appalling. Actions like this spark psychological trauma in a situation that is already dire to begin with. It feels like a premeditated effort to add insult to injury. 

Rocio Rebollar Gomez tried to do things right and explore every avenue to stay in the United States, including benefits given to military families.

Lt. Gibram Cruz claims that his mother was “snuck her out through the back” and that she was in Mexico in less than half an hour. Rebollar Gomez ran a small business selling health products and also drove for Uber. According to NYT she also explored an exemption provided to military families for service to country, as she “had attempted to stay in the United States legally, including deferred action under the discretionary option for military families through Citizen and Immigration Services, Ms. Cabrera said”. She had previously been removed from the country in 1995, 2005 and 2009 but found her way back to her family. 

ICE has responded and says that her removal was deserved, but Lt Gibran Cruz claims his mom did what any woman in her situation would have done.

As NYT reports, Mary G. Houtmann, a spokeswoman for ICE, said that “Ms. Gomez’s 2009 removal was the result of a 2008 order by an immigration judge and that she illegally re-entered the country after that.”

Gibran does not deny the fact that his mother re-entered the country illegally, but claims that her removal was unnecessary: “Her as a responsible mother did what any mother in her situation would do and came back to care for her children by any means. A country that was founded on immigrants should be welcoming to my mother, who her whole life has been an outstanding citizen.”

He continued while at a press conference: “We have always provided and succeeded by ourselves. We simply asked ICE to exercise some discretion and let her continue being a contributing member of her society”. Gibran also stressed the fact that military families make a lot of sacrifices and special considerations should be explored. 

In the meantime, Rocio’s family is worried about her safety while in Mexico.

Rocio’s family is concerned about her safety back in Mexico. According to one of her daughters, Karla McKissick, one of Rocio’s brothers was abducted in Acapulco and is now presumed dead. His body has never been found. Rocio will stay with a half-sister she had not seen in a decade. The family lawyer has indicated that they have run out of options. In the meantime, the family will go south of the border to bring her supplies, but the family has been torn apart and left traumatized and scarred for life.  

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