A Goleta grandmother is preparing to turn herself into U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after they denied her appeal to stay in the U.S.
Now her family is counting down the hours they have together.
They had a going away party Saturday and invited kids, grandchildren, aunts and uncles to spend time with Juana Flores just in case they don’t see her for a while.
“We aren’t counting down the days any more we are counting down the hours left together,” said Andrea Gomez, Juana’s granddaughter.
Flores’s was family in good spirits, but past the smiles are sadness, confusion and uncertainty.
On Monday, April 1st, Flores will turn herself into ICE.
“My grandma is my heart in human form,” said Gomez. “She was there for us growing up and it’s hard to see her leave on such a short notice.”
Flores has been in the country illegally for 30 years but did not appear on ICE’s radar until she visited her sick mother in Mexico returning to the U.S. shortly after.
This weekend, her family hugs her a little longer, keeping a positive attitude for what’s to come.
“This weekend seems like all the other weekends we have spent together with all my kids in the family, but we have faith in God that something good will happen with all of this,” said Flores.
The family’s legal team pleaded to the Department of Homeland Security for an extension.
“We don’t know what the chances are, but even after she goes to Mexico if that occurs, that’s just the beginning of a new chapter in the struggle,” said attorney Frank Ochoa of Sanger Swysen & Dunkle law firm.
If Juana is forced to go, the family says they are ready to visit.
“Out of all the grandchildren, I have my passport and am ready to visit if my grandma leaves,” said Jessie Flores, Juana’s grandson.
Ochoa says the Mexican government is also taking interest in this case.
Even though sadness looms over their heads, the family is still hopeful Juana Flores will stay.
Juana she spent most of the weekend packing her things.
It is possible that Juana is granted an extension, but if not her attorney says she may have to wait 10 years before she is able to come back to the United States.
The family will be driving Juana to the border Monday.