A group of activists protesting an elderly woman’s deportation experienced a victory just 15 minutes before their planned rally began.
Betty Flores Hijuelos, an 81-year old grandmother and the mother of immigrant rights activist Renee Saucedo, was deported from SFO on Nov. 27 after immigration officials discovered a violation on her R Visa. Hijuelos was returning from Mexico after selling her family home. Unbeknownst to her and her daughter, R Visa’s do not allow exiting and re-entering the USA, and despite her visa’s expiration date of 2024, she was immediately deported.
Hijuelos has no family left in Mexico, and has been staying at the home that she sold at the benevolence of the new owners.
“The Department of Homeland Security used their discretion to deport my mom rather than allow her re-entry,” stated Saucedo. “I blame Donald Trump’s statements around deporting everyone, and I also blame our broken immigration system that does not respect human rights or a sense of decency or morality.”
In response to the deportation Saucedo filed an Application for Humanitarian Parole, gathering the backing of Supervisor-elect Hilary Ronen, Congressional Representative Jared Huffman and Congressional Representative Nancy Pelosi.
Fifteen minutes before a rally outside the San Francisco Federal Building Thursday, Saucedo received a call from a staff member from Pelosi’s office, saying that the humanitarian parole had been granted. These types of appeals generally take six to seven months to process.
“The separation of immigrant families, especially around this time of year, is a concern to many,” Pelosi told the Examiner. “We are delighted that Renee Saucedo will soon be reunited with her mother, and we were glad our efforts to assist her return were successful.”
“The work continues,” she said. “We will keep fighting for DREAMers, immigrant families in California and across the country—and we’ll continue calling on Republicans to enact comprehensive immigration reform our country urgently needs.”
Despite the good news 150 people from local unions, community organizations and churches continued their rally, celebrating the small victory with songs and speeches. But as many speakers pointed out, this type of deportation is still happening to thousands of mothers and grandmothers across the United States, and that the anti-deportation momentum must continue.