Private Bill Aims to Halt One Woman’s Deportation

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.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.


  1. Mom has lived here for 11 years. Her children are 12, 18, and 19 years old. My math says they do not have a legal presence in the United States either. Why were the children not returned with their mother? And by the way….for those of you who may think I am anti-immigration this is not so. My wife immigrated from Colombia and became a United States citizen. We have petitioned to have her brother immigrate here, legally, he has been waiting 5 years so far for his visa. The expected wait time by USCIS estimates is between 10 and 11 years. If you want to come to the United States our borders are open for those who wish to do so legally. I have little sympathy for those that want to jump to the head of the line. Maybe my wife and I should ask Zoe Lofgren to intervene on our behalf but she won’t. Why? It doesn’t make good headlines and we would never ask to be put ahead of those that have waited patiently to be reunited with family members.

  2. Nobody in the U.S. House of Representatives represents the people of Mexico better than Zoe Lofgren.

  3. We do not need immigration reform. The U.S. government just needs to enforce existing immigration law. Covered California recently crowed triumphantly that 1.4 million paying customers signed up for ObamaCare, and 1.9 million more who signed up get it free. So, 1.4 million paying customers (read legal residents) get to pay for all 3.3 million recipients, 1.9 of whom are probably illegal. What could go wrong with that financially??

    Anchor babies can either stay here, since they are citizens by birth, or go to Mexico (which Mom left because it’s better in El Norte, where she can get MediCal, etc. than it is in Mexico) with Mom. When Mom came here illegally, she made a choice. When she went home to see her sick Dad, she made another choice. Most of us have to live with our choices; so why shouldn’t illegals be required to do the same?

    Zoe’s private bill is just another way to pick the pockets of legal residents to pay the bills of illegal residents. How much longer can California last under these circumstances? Not too long ago California was the world’s fourth largest economy. It has slipped to eighth at present, and is destined to slip further. What place will Mexifornia hold on the world economic stage?