SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Tears flowed freely late Wednesday night at San Francisco International Airport as three children bid farewell to their undocumented parents who then boarded a flight to Mexico.
Maria Mendoza-Sanchez and her husband, Eusebio, entered the country illegally over two decades ago. Over the 23 years since, they had married, established careers and raised four children in Oakland.
The couple said they had tried on several occasions to become documented immigrants, but their efforts failed. The couple is now prohibited from returning to the U.S. for at least a decade.
Meanwhile, their youngest child will be with them in Mexico while three of their children raised in the United States will remain in the Bay Area.
The family had been ordered to self-deport on Monday, but sought a delay to appeal the order. That appeal was denied.
As they gathered at the airport for their flight, emotions overflowed.
“It’s hard, I wish I don’t have to leave my kids behind but I really like to follow the law,” Maria Mendoza-Sanchez told reporters. “When I came to this country, I was very young. Back then I didn’t really understand what it meant… I didn’t came because I was trying to violate anybody’s rules. I came pretty much because I was young and in love.”
The trained cancer nurse said she did her best to stay legally.
“I tried, I tried since 2002 every single thing I could (to get a green card),” she said.
Her 21-year-old daughter, Melin, who was born in the U.S. and is a citizen said she didn’t know when the family will be together again.
“What scares me the most is that I don’t know when they’re going to be back,” she said. “I want us to be together.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who tried to assist the family, called the deportation “senseless” since the Mendoza-Sanchez family never broke any laws and were established professionals.
“My heart is broken for Maria and Eusebio, their family and our community,” Feinstein said in a prepared statement. “This is a travesty, plain and simple, and evidence that Donald Trump’s immigration policy is nothing more than a hateful deportation program targeting law-abiding families. It’s shameful and stands against the very ideals upon which this country was founded.”
“After living productive lives in this country for 23 years, Maria and Eusebio Sanchez will be deported today. All possible avenues to delay their departure have been denied by the Trump administration in what I believe is an act utterly devoid of humanity.”