Longtime Aurora resident Maria de Jesus Jimenez Sanchez is being deported following a recent routine check-in with immigration enforcement officials, her attorney says.
“I called [the Aurora detention facility] to speak with Maria today and was told that she was deported,” immigration attorney Jennifer Kain Rios told The Colorado Independent in an email today. “Since then I was able to confirm that she has not been boarded on the plane yet.”
Kain Rios is now working to stop the deportation.
Jimenez Sanchez was detained on Wednesday morning during a scheduled appointment with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Aurora.
Kain Rios was not able to speak with her client between 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday morning. She says that when Jimenez Sanchez was taken into custody, “she requested orally and in writing to be given a reasonable fear interview. She has been denied that.”
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website, when an individual with removals orders expresses a “reasonable fear” of returning to his or her country of origin, ICE must refer the case to an asylum officer who will determine whether they have a reasonable fear of persecution or torture. Jimenez Sanchez has expressed fears of returning to Mexico.
Though she received a deportation order in 2001, Jimenez Sanchez has since been granted multiple stays of removal, and has been cooperating with ICE’s Order of Supervision for more that 4 years, according to her attorney.
She filed her most recent stay of removal on March 3, and received notice that the stay had been denied about two weeks later. Despite the denial, she chose to appear at her check-in, which had been scheduled prior to the stay being filed.
“Maria de Jesus knew that there was a high risk of being detained, but she understood her obligation to comply with the Order of Supervision and the risks of not complying,” Kain Rios told The Independent. “Maria de Jesus was very anxious, worried and hesitant about attending this check in. For all the other check-ins she had an unexpired Stay of Removal in place. This check in was different.”
Kain Rios says that when she spoke to Jimenez Sanchez, her client said she had been provided with a document that “seemed to indicate” that she would be given an informal interview soon, and may end up in detention for up to three months awaiting a reasonable fear interview. “The deportation today is a contradiction of what that document said,” said Kain Rios.
Jimenez Sanchez has lived in Aurora since 1999 and has four children, including a teenaged daughter with developmental disabilities. She was convicted in 2012 of driving without a license but has no other criminal record.
“Maria de Jesus does not pose any threat to the community,” says Kain Rios.
A spokesman for Rep. Mike Coffman said that Jimenez Sanchez was detained “because of new policies ordered by Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly,” Denverite reports.
ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok says the agency is preparing a statement regarding its actions on Wednesday. This story will be updated when it becomes available.
Photo credit: Kelsey Ray