A Goleta grandmother is preparing to turn herself into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody after they denied her appeal to stay in the U.S.
To say her family is devastated would be an understatement. In less than two weeks, Juana Flores will be turning herself into ICE officials to potentially start a new life in Mexico, a place she hasn’t been to in years and no longer has family in.
The Flores family has been optimistic for months that the 56-year-old, a mother of 10 and grandmother of 15, would be able to stay in the United States. Now those hopes are shattered.
“It’s just very hard knowing that one of your main providers for the family is going to be taken away from you and there’s nothing you can really do about it,” said Andrea Gomez, Juana’s granddaughter.
Juana’s appeal to stay in the U.S. was denied by ICE. She will now be removed by the agency on April 1.
Her attorney, Kraig Rice, says after she stays outside the U.S. for 10 years, she should be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa and return home.
“I feel scared, I feel sad. I don’t know how I’m going to feel when I arrive to Mexico,” Juana said.
Juana’s family is outraged by what they call a broken system and are now saddened by the family moments their mom and grandmother will miss.
“My husband and I are expecting another child. We had our first appointment yesterday and we’re three months in. To know that she’s not going to be there for me like she was for my daughter’s birth, it’s painful,” said Elizabeth Flores, Juana’s daughter.
Juana has been in the country illegally for 30 years but she did not appear on ICE’s radar until she visited her sick mother in Mexico and then returned to the U.S.
Her family is looking to political leaders to create legislation that doesn’t target what they consider to be innocent families like theirs.
“Hopefully Donald Trump will see this and take into consideration what he does is not right and what’s he’s enforcing may be the laws but he can at least have some sympathy for families like ours,” said Andres Flores, Juana’s husband.
One of Juana’s sons is in the Air Force. Congressman Salud Carbajal’s office says he plans on introducing legislation early next week inspired by Juana’s family that would help keep military families together.
Juana’s family is going to be part of a Showtime docuseries on families across the U.S. that are affected by deportation. The series is expected to premiere next year.