An Oakland cancer nurse and her family are facing deportation after living a law-abiding, productive life in the United States for the past 23 years.
Maria Mendoza-Sanchez, a nurse at Highland Hospital in Oakland, and her husband Eusebio, who works nights so he can take care of their children by day, are facing deportation to Mexico next week.
The couple has three U.S.-citizen children and an adult Dreamer daughter who plan to attend medical school.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and a representative of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., visited the Mendoza-Sanchez home on Plymouth Street Thursday afternoon to meet with the family.
The Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a statement Thursday, saying in part the courts long ago deemed the couple was in the U.S. illegally, and their case is not exempt from the law.
"Over the last 15 years, this couple’s immigration case has undergone exhaustive review at multiple levels of the Department of Justice’s immigration court system," the ICE statement said. "The courts have consistently held that neither of these individuals has a legal basis to remain in the U.S."
Feinstein also released a statement Thursday before her meeting with the family. She said tearing the family apart doesn't make the U.S. safer, it merely creates a hardship for their three children who will be left behind.
"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," Feinstein said. "They have no criminal records. They pay taxes, own their home and contribute to this country. These are the kind of people we should welcome into the United States with open arms."
Feinstein added that the Sanchez family has tried for two decades to obtain legal status.
Mendoza-Sanchez worked as a housekeeper in a nursing home before earning her nursing degree. She now provides urgently needed care to cancer and heart patients at Highland Hospital.
The Justice Department said this week that 57,069 people have been ordered for removal from the country in the first six months of Trump’s presidency. That’s up nearly 31 percent since the same period in 2016 under former President Barack Obama.
Here is the full statement from ICE:
“Over the last 15 years, this couple’s immigration case has undergone exhaustive review at multiple levels of the Department of Justice’s immigration court system, which is administered by the Executive Office for Immigration Review. The courts have consistently held that neither of these individuals has a legal basis to remain in the U.S.
"Since Mr. Sanchez’s court-issued removal order became final in 2013, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has granted the couple two one-year stays of removal. In May of this year the agency granted them a third stay of removal, for a period of 90 days, to afford them additional time to get their personal affairs in order and make preparations for their departure.
"While ICE continues to prioritize its enforcement resources to focus on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security, the agency’s Acting Director has made it clear that ICE will not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of our nation’s immigration laws may be subject to arrest, detention and, if found removable by the immigration courts, as this couple was, removal from the United States.
"This administration is committed to the rule of law and to enforcing the laws established by Congress. When we fail to enforce those laws, what message are we sending to the millions of people who respect that process and are waiting outside the U.S. now for visas that will enable them to enter the country lawfully."