OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — An Oakland family is facing deportation in a matter of days after years of trying to obtain legal immigration status.
The Mendoza-Sanchez family will be leaving the U.S. after 23 years of living the American dream. Several months ago, ICE gave them 90 days to leave the country.
That countdown is now down to five days.
“It is a very difficult situation. I put up a very long fight,” said Maria Mendoza-Sanchez, who works as a nurse at Highland Hospital taking care of cancer patients.
“I help hospitals bring in foreign nurses because we have a huge shortage of nurses,” said the family’s immigration attorney Carl Shusterman. “One thing we have not been able to do in all these years is bring in bilingual nurses who speak Spanish and English. It’s really hard to get nurses from Mexico into the U.S., and here we have one with a four-year degree.”
Mendoza-Sanchez and her husband Eusebio, who entered the country illegally over two decades ago, have four children.
Eusebio came to the United States in 1989. Maria followed him in 1992. He became a truck driver and she became a nurse. Over the next 25 years they bought a home, built a life and raised a family in the U.S., but now won’t be able to come back for the next decade.
“Somebody who’s deported and who has over a year of unlawful presence is banned from coming back for 10 years,” Shusterman said.
They are taking their youngest with them back to Mexico, but leaving the rest of their family behind.
They are placing their eldest daughter — 23-year-old UC Santa Cruz graduate Vianney Sanchez — in charge of her two younger sisters.
“This administration says they want good people and that is who my family is,” said a tearful Vianney. “They don’t want ‘bad hombres’ and my parents have never, ever done anything, no criminal convictions.” But Sanchez’s immigration status is also in jeopardy.
She is in the United States protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, something President Trump has threatened to take away.
“And I always thought that everything was going to turn out alright and they wouldn’t have to leave, because I don’t … they’ve done nothing wrong,” said daughter Melin Sanchez, who is a senior at UC Santa Cruz studying biology.
The family’s lawyers say this case epitomizes the major difference between how the Obama administration and the Trump administration handle immigration.
“The Obama Administration had put them on an order of supervision, which allowed them to stay here even though they had a deportation order,” said Bill Hing, who is also a USF Professor and Director of the Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic.
Maria and her family say they don’t blame ICE for their deportation. They say they’re just pawns of the administration and are doing their job.
The family is set to meet with Sen. Dianne Feinstein Thursday afternoon, but they aren’t holding out any hope. They have already bought their plane tickets to Mexico and are set to fly back next week.
Sen. Feinstein released a statement Thursday regarding the family’s pending deportation.
It read in part, “Tearing this family apart doesn’t make anyone safer, it only places incredible hardship on their three children who will remain behind, forced to navigate their lives without their parents.”
“This case exemplifies that it’s nearly impossible for undocumented immigrants to get right with the law when they want to do so. The Sanchez family has tried for two decades to obtain legal status,” the statement continued. “The deportation of Maria and Eusebio would be a loss for the Oakland community. The equities of their case should be given full consideration so that this family has an opportunity to stay together.”