UPDATE: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officials deported Belmontes, less than 48 hours after the bill was introduced.
In 2012, Antonia Belmontes left her home of 10 years in California to spend time with her dying father in Mexico. But as an undocumented immigrant, returning home to her three children in the U.S. was next to impossible.
So she stayed in Mexico until a month ago, when she attempted to seek political asylum as a last resort to reunite with her family, 19-year-old San Jose State University student David, 18-year-old Amelia and 12-year-old Jose Manuel.
Federal immigration officials denied her request, however, and are holding her at a detention center along the border in San Diego.
On Tuesday, supporters held a rally at San Jose State to call for her release. They also used the platform to announce the creation of a private bill by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) that, if passed, would stop Belmontes’ deportation and a put an end to a policy that requires immigration detention facilities to keep an average of 34,000 detainees a day in custody.
“Private bills are very rare, and Lofgren doing this will further exemplify that we have a broken immigration system,” says Cesar Juarez Ruiz, an immigration rights activist who helped organize the SJSU demonstration. “Antonia is the mother of three DREAMers [legal permanent residents] who will be left without any parental support or care if she is deported.”