After years of fighting deportation, Rocio Gomez has exhausted all her options. Her son, U.S. Army Second Lieutenant Gibram Cruz, was hoping his military status would help, but it hasn't.
"When I grew up we lived above a laundry mat. She worked hard. At that point she was making over a hundred thousand a year. She was paying her taxes," said Cruz.
With tears in her eyes, Gomez says she is sorry for breaking the law by coming into this country illegally three times, and said she was desperate to give her children a better life.
Gomez arrived in the United State in 1988. Her first run in with ICE
was in 1995. She was removed from the country but returned
right away. She left and re-entered the country illegally 2 more times. In 2018, she was detained by ICE after fighting an order for removal
filed in 2009.
Gomez is afraid to return to her home town of Guerrero, Mexico, a city ruled by organized crime groups, who Gomez claims are willing to kill if they don't get what they want, her attorney Tessa Cabrera said.
Gomez said her brother was abducted and never found. His captors made her believe he would be released in exchange for money, but after paying nearly $10,000 for his return she never heard from them or her brother again.
In hopes of her client passing a reasonable threat interview, Cabera tried to prevent Gomez' deportation through a specific type of asylum application. It was denied. She then applied for deferred action, and that was denied as well.
Meanwhile, her son, who is going through schooling for the Army in Arizona,
is thinking his mother would be protected through the "Parole in Place" policy. The policy is supposed to allow soldiers' undocumented family members an adjustment of their immigration status without having to leave the country.
However, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official who reviewed her case decided she wasn't protected by the policy, and also denied her stay of removal request. The official who reviewed her documents verbally denied her within two hours of receiving more than 200 pages in documents to support her case, according to her attorney.
Gomez is now being monitored through an ankle bracelet and can't leave her home, which means she is not able to work.
Gomez and Cruz were reunited Thursday, but Cruz faces the reality it may be the last time he sees his mother. If she is deported back to Guerrero, Mexico, he says he will not be able to visit her because it's on the list of high-risk places military personal can't travel.