By Melissa Garcia
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A mother of four children is in the process of being deported from her home in Aurora.
After four years of being in compliance with immigration, Maria de Jesus Jimenez Sanchez’s stay-of-removal was suddenly denied a couple of weeks ago, according to her attorney Jennifer Kain-Rios.
Supporters snapped photos of Jimenez Sanchez, 40, walking into a standard check-in appointment on Wednesday at the Bailey Federal Building in Centennial.
Inside, officers detained her, Kain-Rios said. From there, agents transported her to an ICE detention center in Aurora.
By Friday, Jimenez Sanchez was already in the process of being physically deported from the United States, according to Kain-Rios.
Kain-Rios said that her client had lived in Aurora since 1999, and that the three youngest of her four children are U.S. citizens.
“The two younger children need their mother,” Kain-Rios said of the 7 and 8-year old children. “And families really do not need to be separated.”
The only charge on Jimenez Sanchez’ criminal record is a citation for driving without a license from 2012, Kain-Rios said. Since then, she said that ICE had continuously granted her stays-of-removal up until recently.
Kain-Rios said that reasons for ICE previously allowing Jimenez Sanchez to stay in the U.S. included domestic violence related fear of returning to Mexico, along with her necessity to care for her 15-year-old U.S. citizen daughter who suffers from developmental disabilities.
“Her daughter needs her here, and without her, it would be a huge burden on the family,” Kain-Rios said. “It would be a huge burden on the school.”
Immigrant advocates reached out to Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan on social media, pleading for help with her release.
In a statement Friday for CBS4, Hogan wrote:
“Ms. Jimenez-Sanchez’s “crime” occurred five years ago and consisted of driving without a license, I would hope the Justice Department would have more serious deportation cases to work on. Driving without a license and being a parent hardly makes her a threat to society. I believe in the law and enforcing it, but the immigration system is broken, and I wish those in Washington who are charged with fixing it would get busy doing so. Deporting mothers with a criminal record no worse than that of most U.S. citizens isn’t the purpose of having safe borders.”
Community members are also rallying behind her in the form of a petition that is posted online.
CBS4’s Melissa Garcia reached out to ICE for comment, but had not heard back as of late Friday afternoon.
Kain-Rios had reached out to the offices of Rep. Mike Coffman and Sen. Michael Bennet to ask for assistance.
Coffman agreed to talk with CBS4 on the topic. A spokesperson from Bennet’s office said that the office does not comment on open cases.
ICE issued this response on Friday evening:
Karen Araujo-Jimenez, aka Maria de Jesus Jimenez-Sanchez, first illegally entered the United States in October 1999. She was encountered by federal officers and voluntarily returned to Mexico the same day. She again illegally entered the United States on May 23, 2001, at the Douglas, Arizona, port of entry posing as another person; she was immediately deported.
Araujo-Jimenez was transferred to ICE custody on Dec. 6, 2012, following her arrest on local misdemeanor criminal charges. On March 28, 2013, Araujo-Jimenez requested a review by a federal immigration judge. On May 28, 2013, the immigration judge upheld the previous removal order and referred the case back to DHS to execute the removal order.
Araujo-Jimenez has been granted by ICE four one-year stays of deportation: April 2013, May 2014, March 2015 and March 2016 Her latest request for a stay of deportation was denied March 14, 2017.
After having illegally entered the United States four times, Araujo-Jimenez is considered to be an egregious immigration violator. She has exhausted her petitions through the immigration courts and through ICE.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) focuses its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security. However, as Secretary Kelly has made clear, ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.
It is important to note, however, that the removal of non-criminal aliens is nothing new. Over the last five fiscal years (FY 2012 to 2016), about 41 to 45 % of total removals had no prior criminal convictions. (See ICE stats https://www.ice.gov/removal-statistics/2016 — click on Focus Tab)
ICE conducts targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy. ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately.
While the United States welcomes lawful immigrants and visitors, our borders are not open to illegal migration. Those apprehended at the border while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States, or who have violated the terms of their visas, have been ordered removed by an immigration court, have no pending appeal, and do not qualify for relief, must be removed.
Anyone who illegally re-enters the United States after having been deported commits a felony punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison, if convicted.