De­ported nurse wins ap­proval to re­turn to the US

The Tribune (SLO) (Sunday) - - Local -

A nurse who was de­ported to Mex­ico has won her im­prob­a­ble fight to re­turn to her four chil­dren and job in Cal­i­for­nia af­ter win­ning a ticket in a visa lot­tery.

Maria Men­doza-Sanchez told the San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle she learned Fri­day her visa had been ap­proved by U.S. Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices.

“This is amaz­ing,” she said. “I could barely be­lieve it.”

Men­doza-Sanchez, 47, and her hus­band were de­ported to Mex­ico last year amid the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s crack­down on un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants.

Her case drew sup­port from po­lit­i­cal lead­ers and her col­leagues at High­land Hos­pi­tal in Oak­land held a rally protest­ing her de­por­ta­tion.

The hos­pi­tal pe­ti­tioned for her to get an H-1B visa, ar­gu­ing her ex­pe­ri­ence car­ing for can­cer pa­tients qual­i­fies her as a high-skilled worker.

Demo­cratic Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein said she was pleased Men­doza-Sanchez was granted the visa, given the nurse’s con­tri­bu­tions to her com­mu­nity and the im­por­tance of re­unit­ing her fam­ily.

“This is the kind of com­mon sense and com­pas­sion our im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem des­per­ately needs more of,” Fe­in­stein said.

Men­doza-Sanchez en­tered the coun­try in 1994 with­out a visa to join her hus­band. She ob­tained work per­mits in the early 2000s, stud­ied and worked her way up to be­come an on­col­ogy nurse.

The cou­ple had been try­ing to ob­tain le­gal sta­tus since 2002, but their re­quest was de­nied and in 2013 an im­mi­gra­tion judge ordered them de­ported. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, how­ever, granted them two one-year stays, then adopted rules that fo­cused on de­port­ing crim­i­nals and al­lowed the cou­ple to re­main in the U.S.

The rules re­quired them to re­new their work per­mits ev­ery six months. But last year, they were forced to re­turn to Mex­ico un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy.

“It’s been a very tough year, the first year we were not to­gether,” Men­doza-Sanchez said about be­ing away from her chil­dren.

She said she plans to go back to work at the hos­pi­tal and try to ob­tain a visa for her hus­band.

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