FAIRFIELD, OHIO - The Fairfield mother of four children, who quickly become a cause celebre of the escalation in the nation's immigration enforcement since President Donald Trump took office, was deported back to her homeland of Mexico Wednesday, her lawyer said in a news release.
Maribel Trujillo-Diaz, 41, was flown from Alexandria, Louisiana, to Mexico City on a chartered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) flight, according to an immigration official and an official of the Mexican consulate in New Orleans. Her three-year-old daughter will not be traveling with her. She and her three siblings remain in Ohio with their father.
Trujillo-Diaz, who was seeking a better life entered the U.S. in February 2002 without documents, according to her lawyer and court documents. She was thrust into the nation's immigration system when she was arrested in 2007 along with 160 other workers during an immigration raid at a chicken processing plant in Fairfield.
Since that time, she has twice sought – and been denied – asylum in the United States, citing fear of Mexican cartels that targeted two family members. A current asylum case is pending in the Bureau of Immigration Appeals and her lawyers said they are committed to continuing that case.
Trujillo-Diaz's plight has been the focus of vigils, letter-writing campaigns and political intervention stretching from the Cincinnati region to Columbus to Washington, D.C. since she was picked up by ICE agents on April 5 as she was walking to catch a ride with a family member to get to work. More than 700 people, including many religious leaders, have signed letters and made calls asking that she be allowed to stay. They say she is not a "bad hombre" – those undocumented workers convicted of crimes or suspected of crimes – that candidate Trump promised to deport if he was elected.
Immigration officials, however, say her crime was entering the U.S. illegally. She has exhausted all of her legal means by to stay here by and thus was deported, they said.
Her lawyers sought a stay of deportation from the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. But a three-judge panel denied that request last week. Trujillo-Diaz's lawyer, Kathleen Kersh, had asked immigration officials in Louisiana to use its prosecutorial discretion and keep her in the U.S. They did not.
"Maribel's deportation shows that the Trump Administration is not focused on deporting criminals, but rather on separating peaceful mothers from their American children. It is horrific that American children will be the ones to pay the price for these heartless policies," Kersh said in a news release.
However, an immigration official noted that "in an exercise of discretion and prior to her removal, the agency allowed Ms. Trujillo to remain free from custody with periodic reporting, while her immigration case was pending,'' said Khaalid Walls, with the Detroit ICE office.
Carlos Ponce, who heads the Mexican consulate in New Orleans, said his office was helping to facilitate her travel.
"The Mexican government ... will carry out the necessary actions to ensure her rights are respected, including making sure her removal is conducted in an orderly and safe manner,'' he wrote in an email Tuesday.