Undocumented mother of 3 U.S. citizens in process of being deported

Rodriguez-Sagarnaga in Arizona on way to Mexico

UPDATE: Rodriguez-Sagarnaga has been transported to Arizona where she is expected to be immediately deported to Mexico, according to her attorney.

DENVER – Another undocumented woman, who is the mother of three U.S.-citizen children, was arrested Wednesday by immigration agents in Denver and faces immediate deportation.

Ilse Cristina Rodriguez-Sagarnaga, 30, was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents when she went to check in with the local ICE field office Wednesday.

ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok says that Rodriguez-Sagarnaga, a Mexican national, has three misdemeanor convictions in Colorado.

Colorado court records show she pleaded guilty to false reporting in 2010, and harassment.

He says it’s unclear when she first illegally entered the United States, but a federal immigration judge granted her a voluntary departure, and then a final order of removal, in October 2012.

Rusnok says ICE granted Rodriguez-Sagarnaga a one-year stay of removal in June 2016, and that she had requested another stay of removal, which was denied on Tuesday.

Jennifer Piper, with the American Friends Service Committee, which advocates for people living in the U.S. illegally and targeted for removal by ICE, says that Rodriguez-Sagarnaga has been in the U.S. since she was 5 years old.

She and her husband, Alberto, have three young daughters, aged 9 months, 22 months and 3 years, according to Piper.

Piper says that one of Rodriguez-Sagarnaga’s convictions came when she was “trying to leave an abusive ex-husband,” and that she wasn’t able to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) because of the charge.

The DACA programs allows children of undocumented parents to work or study in the U.S. without being targeted for deportation.

It’s one of the Obama-era programs the Trump administration said late last week would stay intact, though the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which was held up in federal court before it could be fully rolled out, will go away.

Since Rodriguez-Sagarnaga is the parent of children who are citizens, the program could have theoretically applied to her. Piper and Rodriguez-Sagarnaga’s attorney argue that Rodriguez-Sagarnaga could have been eligible for DACA had she not been convicted of a crime because she was brought to the U.S. as a child.

“Cristina has virtually no memory of Mexico, but could be deported without her children very soon, possibly as early as this Friday,” said her attorney James Lamb. “In all relevant respects, she is 100% as American as a native born citizen. I have known Cristina, and her family, for many years. She is the mother of three U.S. citizen children, and she has lived in the United States since the age of five, when her parents arranged for her to travel here. She is a survivor of severe domestic abuse, both as a child and in her first relationship. Since escaping the abusive relationships, she found new life and opportunities.”

Lamb and Piper say they fear Rodriguez-Sagarnaga could be deported as soon as Friday. Her supporters say she has a pending visa application as well.

Rusnok said Rodriguez-Sagarnaga remains in ICE custody in Denver pending her removal to Mexico.

Her case is the latest in a host of cases involving ICE agents arresting people in the Denver area and deporting them for minor convictions, even if they have children who are U.S. citizens. 

In a video posted by American Friends Service Committee, before Cristina went to her ICE check-in she stated "For years, the immigration system has been broken and this new administration does not understand that separating families causes so much hurt, so much harm."

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