#Not1More Deportation

Border Patrol Deports DACA-Recipient, Mom, from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

FB_IMG_1454341032995Yesterday local organizers in Chicago got word that a mother of 3, Lesly Sophia Cortez-Martinez, was stopped by Border Patrol at O’Hare airport. She was on her way back from a family trip in Mexico, and was detained even though she had been granted advanced parole as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient.

With the help of supporters, elected officials who intervened, and her attorney, we were able to delay Lesly’s deportation and convince the Customs and Border Protection agency to review her case.

However, this morning CBP put Lesly on a plane and deported her to Mexico with her two youngest children, including her 6 month old son whom she was still nursing. Her 11-year old and her husband remain in the country.

With her DACA and Advanced Parole applications approved, Lesly left the country to visit Mexico with her younger children during the holiday season. But like many of us, her case was more complicated than she knew. Upon her return to the U.S. on Sunday, CBP agents detained her and held her at O’hare airport overnight, citing an old deportation from when she was 15 years old.

Lesly’s family and advocates mobilized and in less than 24 hrs, we collected 2,362 petition signatures and sent dozens of calls to CBP officials to stop Lesly’s deportation. Even though Border Patrol refused to allow her to talk directly to her attorney, she was able to file a request to delay her deportation, detailing her history in the US, the need for her family, and her approval for DACA and for travel abroad.

But CBP chose to ignore the request, actively going against the stated priorities by the Department of Homeland Security, and even denied Lesly access to her attorney.

The forceful removal of a DACA-beneficiary and mother of 3 US citizens is testament of an agency that is quick to deport, and slow to be held accountable.

The forceful removal of a DACA-beneficiary and mother of 3 US citizens is testament of an agency that is quick to deport, and slow to be held accountable.

It also calls into question who is in charge of determining which families have a right to remain together, and which will be torn apart. Lesly’s DACA and advance parole were approved by USCIS, she was detained and deported by Border Patrol, and ICE refused to intervene.

But the lesson in Lesly’s story is not that we should be scared or avoid applying or traveling, but that we need to be fully prepared.

If you are applying for advanced parole, talk to a trusted attorney and make sure you know the risks associated with your legal history. You can file a request for your records from USCIS, Border Patrol and ICE (called a “Freedom of Information Act request”) to know what’s on your record, and then find out what it can mean for  you.

If you get Advanced Parole and travel abroad, have an emergency plan in case you get stopped.  You can carry a signed G-28 with your attorney’s information, and have it ready in case there are problems returning, for example. Talk to your family about an emergency plan, children’s custody and pick up.

And most importantly, organize to dismantle the agencies working to harm us.