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After 30 Years Building Life In America, San Diego Woman Deported Again To Mexico

Rocio Rebollar Gomez speaks outside the federal building downtown, Jan. 2, 2020.

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: Rocio Rebollar Gomez speaks outside the federal building downtown, Jan. 2, 2020.

A San Diego mother who illegally entered the country more than three decades ago was deported to Tijuana on Thursday. Rocio Rebollar Gomez, 50, and her family have been fighting for years to keep her in the United States.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

Rebollar Gomez is a mother of three who illegally entered the country in the 1980's. In the time since then she has built a family, bought a home, paid taxes and held a job. Over the years, she has illegally entered the country three times. She was deported in 2009 and re-entered shortly thereafter. Then in 2018 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) apprehended her. The agency tells KPBS she was informed last month her options to stay were exhausted, and she was due to be deported on Thursday.

Before she met with federal authorities she pleaded, hoping for a miracle, to stay in the U.S.

Reported by Matthew Hoffman , Video by Matthew Bowler

"Truly separating from my family would be something terrible for everyone — it would affect not just my life but also my children and my grandchildren," Rebollar Gomez said in Spanish, outside the ICE building downtown. "I’m asking for an opportunity I’d like to stay with my family. Don’t take me away because all of my family is here and my life is here."

Thursday morning, with her son and attorney by her side, she walked into the downtown ICE building. But no miracle arrived. Within the next hour she was deported to Tijuana, Mexico.

"It’s a hard feeling having to say goodbye to my mother," said her son, Gilbram Cruz.

Cruz joined the U.S. Army in the hopes that it would allow her to stay in the country.

"All I was asking for was the policies that have been set in place to do exactly what they were there to do — keep my family safe," Cruz said.

Now he wonders what will happen to his mom in Mexico.

"My biggest fear was what people were going to do to her once she crossed over," Cruz said. "Knowing her case and knowing she’s got family over here, she’s going to get extorted for money, abducted."

Rebollar Gomez’s attorney said the fight to keep her in the U.S. was an uphill battle, and the end result was not shocking. Now she will have to wait at least 10 years to be eligible for legal re-entry. Unless federal immigration policy changes, her attorney said she does not see a way to legally bring her back to the U.S.

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A San Diego mother, Rocio Rebollar Gomez, 50, first entered the country illegally more than three decades ago. She was deported to Tijuana on Thursday, though her family fought for years to keep her in the United States. Plus, the city of San Diego plans to spend $100 million on sidewalk repairs. With a backlog of more than 81,000 sidewalk ... Read more →

Aired: January 3, 2020 | Transcript

Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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