Things That Matter

ICE Is Trying To Deport A Woman Battling Cancer But Her Son Is Doing All He Can To Stop It

A 24-year-old doctoral candidate at Yale University and Dreamer is garnering public support in his attempt to stop his mother, who is recovering from Stage 4 cancer, from being deported. Cristian Padilla Romero says his mother Tania Romero, a Honduran immigrant and mother of four, is facing deportation after being arrested for a traffic violation. Cristian claims Tania’s condition will worsen if she is deported. 

The son created a petition asking Immigration and Customs Enforcement to “be humane and release my mother to fight her case outside of detention and so she can fully recover from a long battle against cancer.” Since it went up last week it has gotten 29,292 signatures of 30,000 required. 

“Nobody really deserves to be detained by ICE, but my mom in particular, who’s recovering from cancer and whose health is very fragile at the moment, really needs to be released as soon as possible,” Cristian told the Yale Daily News.

Tania Romero faces deportation after a traffic stop.

According to the college paper, Tania was pulled over for a traffic violation in August in Gwinnett, County, Georgia. The following day she was placed in ICE detention where she still is today and faces seemingly imminent deportation. Moreover, the 48-year-old has been recovering from Stage 4 oral cancer and has been receiving ongoing treatment. 

“I grew up in this country. My mother is the single biggest reason I am at a school like Yale,” Cristian told the New York Times. “She guided me, worked three jobs to support me.” 

Tania brought Cristian, who is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, to the United States when he was 7 years old. Tania arrived herself two decades ago and raised her four kids in Atlanta. She kept multiple jobs as a housekeeper, dishwasher, and laundromat attendant before settling into full-time construction work. 

“If deported to Honduras she would certainly face a decline in her health, if not death, as the country lacks proper facilities to treat oral cancer, an overall shortage of advanced medication and treatments for cancer survivors,” Cristian told The Hill

ICE failed to deliver a 2008 issue for removal according to Cristian. 

ICE claims that Tania was issued an order of removal in 2008 because she failed to attend hearings in immigration court. However, Cristian learned through a Freedom of Information Act request that Tania did not receive any of the three notices asking her to appear in court. 

The FOIA request showed that all of the letters had been returned to ICE by the United States Postal Service. Although Tania was aware she an undocumented immigrant she did not know there was an issue for her removal until 2018. 

“The agency’s general position has been that undocumented immigrants are not automatically entitled to stay in the country, even in cases of people who are receiving life-saving medical treatment,” according to the New York Times

Tania’s condition worsens while in ICE detention. 

In 2016, Tania was diagnosed with oral cancer but by then it was already at Stage 4. The mother has endured surgery, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and has suffered damage to her jaw. 

“It’s very hard for her to eat in general, and we are really concerned about her health in detention, where she is not receiving any special accommodation,” Cristian told the New York Times

Health staff at the ICE facility where Tania is staying found that she had a severe B12 deficiency and required hospitalization. However, Cristian says she was never hospitalized and required her lawyer to intervene to even receive remedial B12 injections. 

“The other thing is that they are in a big room with a hundred other people, with bunk beds, and only turn off the lights for a few hours at night, maybe 1 to 4 a.m., so she doesn’t get any profound or significant rest,” Cristian told The New Yorker

Congresswoman Lucy McBath (D-GA) and others get involved.

Representative Lucy McBath, who unseated an incumbent in the 2018 Democratic sweep, and who represents Cristian’s district has tried to intervene at ICE. According to The Hill, ICE has agreed to halt Tania’s deportation until the agency meets with McBath’s staff. 

“Cristian’s story is not the only story like this,” said Miriam Feldblum, who vice president for student affairs at Pomona College when Cristian attended undergrad there. “Students on campuses across the country are struggling with immigration issues. Their parents are in deportation. They are in limbo.”

Cristian’s classmates at Yale have also shown their support. They’ve written letters and organized phone banks to thwart Tania’s deportation. 

“Sending my mother back to Honduras would be a death sentence. We’re not going to stop our work until she is released,” Cristian told the New York Times. 

While Tania’s future remains uncertain, in the meantime, you can donate to the family’s GoFundMe.

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