Undocumented mother deported despite legal travel document

A 32-year-old undocumented immigrant with three young children who are US citizens has been deported from the United States to Mexico upon trying to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad to see a sick relative. This is despite having been given temporary deportation reprieve under the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by President Obama.

Lesly Sophia Cortez-Martinez was returning from Mexico via Chicago O’Hare International Airport when she was prevented from leaving by Customs and Border Protection agents. Cortez-Martinez is allowed to travel out of the country under DACA; however, the agents noticed that she had a 2004 deportation order, which makes her ineligible for the program, despite Cortez-Martinez claiming to have no knowledge of the order.

Cortez-Martinez has not lived in Mexico since she was a teenager; however, despite her lawyer, Mony Ruiz-Velasco, filing an emergency stay of removal, she was deported from the United States. “I feel pretty certain that she would not have traveled outside the country – obviously she’s been here so long, she wasn’t going to risk that – her understanding was that they approved her request meaning that she’s eligible to travel,” Ruiz-Velasco notes.

Ruiz-Velasco points out that her client has lived in the United States since she was 15 years old and that all her ties are there. Her children all hold US citizenship and she says Cortez-Martinez has no way of returning to the US.