Mother of children facing deportation may be forced to leave U.S. with them|
Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/201041
SAN ANTONIO, Texas — An illegal immigrant allowed to stay in the U.S., apparently because of a routine delay in paperwork, while her four children face deportation could now be forced to go back to Mexico, a government lawyer told an immigration court Wednesday.
The case against 32-year-old Rocio Godinez's children was postponed at a status hearing so immigration officials can decided whether to include her in the proceedings.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement will decide whether to order Godinez to immigration court, said agency lawyer Carmen Leal. The proceedings against her children, ages 10 to 18, have been going on for the past two years.
"They're going after Rocio now," said family attorney Jonathan Ryan. He said he believes the government decided to move on Godinez after media reports on the case.
"We knew this was a chance we were taking with going public," Ryan said.
ICE said it would have no comment Wednesday.
The family's next hearing will take place in early December, when they will again make the more than three-hour trip from their home in San Angelo to San Antonio.
Godinez and her four children came to the U.S. in the late 1990s on tourist visas, which later expired.
In 2001, Godinez's father, a legal U.S. resident, filed a petition for them to stay in the country. But the paperwork is years away from being processed because excessive demand for a limited number of visas has created a federal backlog.
In May 2005, Godinez was pulled over for speeding and was referred to Border Patrol. Deportation proceedings for her children began after that.
Godinez, who also has a 7-year-old American-born child, said the situation puts her in a difficult situation because her family may be torn between two countries.
"I'm scared," she said in Spanish after the hearing, which she did not attend. "I don't know what's going to happen."
And Godinez's oldest child, Jorge Vasquez-Godinez, 18, is now married to a U.S. citizen and the father to a U.S.-born infant. Ryan said he will likely try to separate his case from the rest of the family to increase his chances of staying.
Jorge Vasquez-Godinez said as long as the family keeps getting extensions, he won't complain about the periodic hearings. "I'd rather do that than have to go," he said.
Godinez said seeking to publicize the case was worth it in an effort to help her children, even if it means she'll have to leave the U.S., too. "It's not for me, it's for them," she said.