An Ohio mother of four who has lived in the U.S. for 17 years faced deportation Tuesday, nine days after a routine traffic stop that led authorities to discover her undocumented status.
Beatriz Morelos Casillas, 37, her husband and their children live in Painesville, 30 miles northeast of Cleveland.
The kids, ages 4 to 12, are U.S. citizens and never have been out of the United States, her husband, Jose DeJesus, said.
A backlog in court hearings has slowed the deportation process. Casillas, however, was deported once before in 2001, limiting her rights to fight the order.
"This is low-hanging fruit for immigration authorities," Yale-Loehr said. "It's relatively easy to focus on people who have been through the process before because they can be deported expeditiously without a hearing."
Still, lawyer Elizabeth Ford pressed ICE to let Casillas stay while the Rev. Steve Vellenga, pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Painesville, worked to rally community support.
"We did the best we could to bring her case forward," Vellenga told USA TODAY. "But they want to scare people. They want people to think 'This could happen to you.'"