Immigrant Mother of Fallen Soldier Can Stay in U.S.

The mother of a U.S. Army nurse killed in Afghanistan will not be deported to Mexico -- at least for the time being, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Wednesday.

Maria Cordova, 47, was released from Las Colinas Detention Facility Tuesday after serving time for a drug conviction, according to her attorney Danielle Rosche. She was immediately taken into ICE custody and scheduled to be deported.

But her attorney appealed the order so Cordova could be near the grave of her daughter, 1st Lt. Jennifer Moreno, who was killed in October serving in Afghanistan.

Moreno, 25, graduated from San Diego High School in 2006 and attended the University of San Francisco, where she enrolled in the ROTC program.

The Army nurse died while serving with the Army Rangers as part of a female liaison team. Moreno is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma and was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star for combat valor.

Rosche said Moreno’s family is overwhelmed by the decision to let Cordova stay in the U.S. and grateful to ICE officials for their compassion.

“At the end of the day, this isn’t about an undocumented immigrant. This is about Jennifer. This is about a woman who sacrificed her life for her country. Her greatest desire was to have her mother here legally in the United States, and that’s what we’ve given her today,” Rosche said.

However, opponents say her daughter's military service is irrelevant and she should be deported.

“She’s already proven she’ll break the law with impunity. Immigration laws that are on the books have no meaning in her mind as to where physically she is," said Rob Luton with San Diegans for Secure Borders. "So she doesn’t respect our immigration laws. Why should we be respecting her?”

Cordova has three other children, including a son who is an Army mechanic.

Her stay is good for one year, according to ICE spokesperson Lauren Mack. After that, Cordova can apply each year to have her stay extended.

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