UPDATE APRIL 26: Cecila Gomez is filing a motion for all records related to her case.
Her family and attorney spoke Thursday outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. They say this case is out of the ordinary, but they see detentions like this happening more and more.
The one that that was surprising has been the community support, Attorney Laura Barrera said.
Gomez's case is still pending.
UPDATE APRIL 10: Cecilia Gomez spoke publicly for the first time since her release from federal custody on a deportation order that was issued in 1998.
Gomez read from a prepared statement in Spanish. Her son Ricardo Avalar-Gomez, translated the message in English.
READ THE FULL TEXT:
On the morning of March 27, before I left to the USCIS office, I kissed my two younger sons goodbye, and they wished me good luck. They knew what this day meant for us.
I was on my way to an interview for my permanent residency. This day was going to change our lives forever. Unfortunately it took a turn for the worst.
I arrived at USCIS full of hope and positive expectation. My oldest son had flown home from Wesleyan college in Connecticut to attend the interview with me. For more than twenty years, I had been waiting for this day, and the opportunity to become a permanent resident in order to be present at my son’s college graduation, and ensure that my two younger sons finish their schooling.
What happened next was nothing short of traumatic, both for me, for my children, and my entire family. When I was called up for what I believed was my interview, I was met by ice agent(s) and In less than ten minutes I was in ICE custody and taken away without the chance to say
goodbye to my son, waiting on the other side of the door.
Then, while I was being processed for deportation I was assaulted by an ICE agent and injured.
I was asked to sign a document. However, when I asked that I be given an opportunity to read the document before signing the agent became very angry. He then forcefully prevented me from reading the document and hurt me.
It was when I was assaulted, that I felt especially powerless. I was humiliated, mocked and stripped of my humanity.
While I was detained I asked multiple times, at different detention centers, for someone to document my injury but was repeatedly refused. They think that just because we are immigrants they can do whatever they want with us. While I was detained I saw so much injustice.
If not for the community organizations, and individuals that called for my release - I would not be here now. I would have been one of the millions who’ve been ripped apart from their families.
Since my release, I have received calls and messages from individuals from all over the country - wishing me well, sending me strength. This inspires me, and motivates me to continue fighting to become a permanent resident and remain together with my family. It also moves me to let them know that they are also not alone.
UPDATE APRIL 6: Attorney Laura Barrera, who represents Cecilia Gomez, says that Cecilia is back with her family now.
The case is still ongoing, and Cecilia will have to make regular check-ins with ICE. But Barrera says that now she gets to stay with her family while the case is pending.
Cecilia released the following statement after she was released:
This past week has been some of the most difficult days of my life. I arrived at USCIS thinking that after 20-years of trying I would finally become a permanent resident – but instead I was detained by ICE, brutally slammed on a table and later placed on a flight headed to Mexico. Thanks to my family, and the strong community support I was not deported. This incident has been traumatic, and now I am happy to be home and am encouraged to continue fighting for my right to remain with my family.
LAS VEGAS (KTNV) -- A Las Vegas family is fighting for the release of their mother after they say she was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers last week.
According to the Gomez family, Cecilia Gomez, 46, visited an immigration office in Las Vegas on March 27 for what she thought would be a routine interview to get her green card.
"I was like good luck mom you're going to become a citizen soon," remembers her 18-year-old son Ricardo Avalar-Gomez.
Gomez is the mother of three boys, who were all born in the United States. Her oldest son currently attends Wesleyan University, while her other two boys attend magnet middle and high schools in Las Vegas.
"She had a dream home, she had a dream car, and we were doing good in school all she wanted was to become a citizen," Ricardo said.
According to family and immigration advocates, once Gomez was detained by immigration officers, she was physically assaulted and taken to several different detention centers across the country.
"She was assaulted, intimidated and coerced," said supporter Bliss Requa-Trautz with the Las Vegas Worker's Center
Currently, Gomez is being held at a detention center in Eloy, Az.
Gomez's lawyers say she does not have any criminal history, but when she was detained ICE officers informed the mother, she faced a deportation removal order. According to Gomez, she never received an order to go to court.
"The notice to appear in the court was sent to what today is a donut shop in Los Angeles, and she's never lived in Los Angeles," said Requa-Trautz. "She was shocked."
The United State Citizenship and Immigration Services office did not comment on Gomez's case. They sent 13 Action News the following statement:
“USCIS conducts interviews to determine an applicant’s eligibility for the benefit sought, including providing the applicant an opportunity to provide additional details relevant to adjudicating that benefit, while taking the existence of a final order into account.”
The Gomez family have currently petitioned to reopen the deportation removal case in hopes of clearing their mother's name.