OAKLAND (KTVU/BCN) Half of an Oakland family of six, including a nurse at Highland Hospital, is being forced to self-deport next week, and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is getting involved in their case.
Maria and Eusebio Mendoza-Sanchez have been forced by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to purchase plane tickets back to Mexico and fly back by Tuesday, according to their attorney, Carl Shusterman.
"Frankly, they're past lawyers," Shusterman said. "We're just trying to bring the facts of this case to light."
"The (Trump) administration says they're getting rid of the bad hombres," Shusterman said. "These are certainly really good people, but they're getting deported also."
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 have four children, three of whom have legal standing to remain here in the U.S. Their youngest, 12, will be going back to Mexico with his parents.
Three daughters, ages 23, 21 and 16, will remain in the family's Oakland home while the 21-year-old woman and her 16-year-old sister finish college and high school, respectively.
"They've saved enough money that they can make mortgage payments on the house for the next two years," Shusterman said.
"I'm sorry. I've been trying to be as strong as I can," said 46-year-old Maria. But she couldn't hold back her tears. Her battle to legalize her family's status lasted 15 years and was denied at every turn.
"I fought and I fought," Maria said. "I even asked them please not come to the airport 'cause I'm not even sure how they are going to make it back home."
Her daughter knew there was trouble after November election.
“This administration says that they want good people and that's what my family is. They don't want 'bad hombres'. My parents have never done anything wrong. No criminal convictions; none of us either have ever been in trouble with the law. Not even in school,” said Vianney Sanchez.
Feinstein met with the Mendoza-Sanchez family today, and her office released a statement criticizing the federal government for "tearing this family apart."
"The deportation of Maria and Eusebio would be a loss for the Oakland community," Feinstein said. "The equities of their case should be given full consideration so that this family has an opportunity to stay
"Maria and Eusebio Sanchez have lived in this country for more than 20 years. They are hardworking parents raising four children, three citizens and one protected by DACA," the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status for certain people who came to the country as children, she said.
"They have no criminal records. They pay taxes, own their own home and contribute to this country. These are the kind of people we should welcome into the United States with open arms," Feinstein said.
The family's attorney hopes that ICE will reconsider their decision.
"ICE has total discretion," Shusterman said. "They could always rescind this order."
A spokesperson for ICE said, "Over the last 15 years the couple's case went through and exhaustive review by the immigration system. The courts have consistently held that neither of these individuals has a legal basis to remain in the US."
Vianny, the eldest daughter will be the legal guardian for her younger sisters that will stay in the U.S. However, she is a DACA recipient (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and not a U.S. citizen. If the program is shutdown, she too could be deported.
Maria and her husband and son fly to Mexico on Tuesday, a day she knew was coming but still can’t believe it arrived. “It's really hard to think about it...it's a way of dying without being dead”.
A Gofundme account has been set up to support the family.