“Federal immigration officials have deported a mother of two from Falls Church back to her native El Salvador despite eleventh-hour efforts by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and others to help her stay in the United States.
Liliana Cruz Mendez was deported Wednesday, according to CASA, the nonprofit group that represented her after she was detained in May at a routine check-in with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE confirmed the deportation.
After she was taken into custody, McAuliffe (D) pardoned Cruz Mendez’s 2014 conviction for a minor driving offense in hopes that it would spare her from having to leave the country.
The governor said she did not pose a public-safety threat. But federal immigration officials said she would be deported, noting that she had been in the United States illegally since 2006.
Cruz Mendez’s husband, Rene Bermudez, said the family was shattered by the deportation. He sobbed as he recounted how their children, aged 10 and 4, wept when they heard Cruz Mendez was gone.
“How can they take away their mother?” he said.
Bermudez said he cannot join his wife in El Salvador because he is in the process of obtaining a green card and must stay in the United States. He said he and his wife have been together for 15 years and have always paid taxes and gone to church.
He and his son and daughter last saw Cruz Mendez through a window at the immigration detention center.
“People don’t understand because they haven’t lived it. But believe me,” he said, his voice faltering, “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”
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Intentional cruelty and arbitrary enforcement usually come back to haunt those who smugly carry them out. Exercising power for power’s sake is abusive.