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Deported North Hollywood Mother Gets Reprieve PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia   
Thursday, 05 July 2012 05:20


Blanca Cardenas didn't think she would get to celebrate her daughter's second birthday or her 10-year wedding anniversary, along with her family, in this country.

"It was truly a miracle," she said recently, sitting next to her husband Gerardo Quinones and their daughter Gloria at a family member's home.

On February 29 this year, a week after she was arrested for trespassing at her foreclosed North Hollywood home, the 37- year-old undocumented woman was deported to Tijuana, Mexico. But in mid-June, four months after her removal from the United States, Cardenas received a 90-day humanitarian visa that allowed her to return to this country temporarily.

Upon her booking at the Los Angeles County jail following her arrest, her fingerprints had alerted Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that she had been previously removed from the United States in 2002 when she was returning to the country from her native Mexico where she had gone on a family emergency.

Her case quickly gained fame, as pro-immigrant activists complained that immigration authorities had not given her time to seek legal assistance. Her husband, Quinones, also said he and his wife were in a legal fight with Bank of America over their home.

According to Quinones, the couple had filed for bankruptcy and was told this would protect them from foreclosure. But Bank of America officials sold their home and the new owner had reported them to the police for trespassing. Soon after Cardenas' arrest, several press conferences detailing her plight were held outside of the downtown immigration detention center.

The Occupy Movement held a vigil and protest at the couple's foreclosed home. A week after her deportation, another press conference was held outside an immigrant shelter in Tijuana where Quinones traveled with the couple's daughter to reunite her with her mother after two weeks of separation.

Quinones, a U.S. citizen, had been frequently visiting his wife in Rosarito, where she stays with friends since her deportation. "In three months, I have to return the visa and go back (to Mexico)," she said.

Until then the family plans to simply spend time together while they continue the legal fight to make Cardenas' stay permanent.

"Now that she's here, it gives us hope that something can be worked out," Quinones said. "We're going to fight so she can remain here."

Alan Diamante, an immigration lawyer representing Cardenas pro bono, said this is the first time someone like Cardenas received a 90-day humanitarian visa, which is often given to witnesses of criminal cases here in the United States or in extreme family emergencies.

He said part of his argument before immigration authorities is Cardenas has to testify in different cases related to the home foreclosure and her trespassing arrest.

"They (immigration authorities) didn't give her time to attend those cases," Diamante said. "She has a pending bankruptcy case and another lawsuit dealing with their foreclosure.

"The government reviewed all the facts and approved this 90- day visa. In my opinion, it was a miracle," Diamante said. "I have to applaud the government. This is another example that the government does review all the facts, including humanitarian factors."

He added they are also looking to see if a U.S. congress member can submit a private bill stipulating why Cardenas should receive permission to stay permanently in the country.

"She's a courageous woman who has not committed any crimes. Her story is that of a woman who was losing her home and the punishment for fighting that was deportation," Diamante said. "She gives hope to a lot of people who are undergoing difficult times. She shows that you have to keep fighting."

In the meantime, Cardenas and her husband are going ahead with plans for their daughter's second birthday and their 10th wedding anniversary.

"It's incredible that we get to celebrate them together,' Cardenas said, adding that she remains hopeful she will eventually stay in the country permanently.

However, she also said she will leave if the 90-day humanitarian visa expires and nothing has been worked out with immigration authorities. "That was the stipulation (of the humanitarian visa) and I have to abide by it," she said. Quinones remainsv hopeful.

"First, we have to thank the authorities for allowing us to fight for her. Now, we just have to do everything legally possible for her to stay here," he said.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 July 2012 05:23