Felipe Cobos has lived in the U.S. for nearly two decades, but has spent the last four months being detained at the Eloy Detention Center in Eloy, Arizona. His 17-year-old daughter Ana tried to rally people on Facebook to come to his hearing on January 2, in the hopes of showing the judge that he’s connected to the community, which will hopefully have a positive influence on the hearing’s outcome.
If things don’t go well for Felipe, however, he could possibly become paralyzed. He suffers from a skin infection on his lower back, which is progressing, and requires surgery within the next few days.
‘He is losing hair because he is under so much stress. He doesn’t want to go back to Mexico. He has no one there. All of his family is here. My mom doesn’t want us to go there either because she says there are no opportunities for us,’ said Ana.
Though he has received some medical treatment, Ana said his infection is very sensitive, and that the conditions in detention are only making it worse.
“Immigration detention centers we have actually visited all appear to be reasonably clean and definitely humane. Reports abound, though, about miserable conditions and even harmful conditions. The crisis this family faces requires intervention and the formal pursuit of a remedy,” says Susan Cho of Susan Cho Figenshau, P.C., a St. Louis-based immigration law office. “US Customs & Border Protection officers and US Immigration & Customs Enforcement officers enforce our laws. While we trust all of our officers to be professional and humane, their job duties do not include providing legal assistance to detained persons, or legislating.”
Ana and her two siblings are U.S. citizens, which is one of the requirements to qualify for Obama’s deferred action for parents program. Under the rule, parents of U.S. citizens can request deferred action and employment authorization if they have had continuous residence in the U.S. since January 1, 2010; if they’re the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents born on or before November 20, 2014; and are not an enforcement priority for removal from the U.S. pursuant to the November 20, 2014,Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants Memorandum, as explained on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website.
Though that might be a possible route for Felipe, his first lawyer said that there was nothing she could do, and more or less gave up on him. His second lawyer said that the only possible solution would be volunteered deportation.
Ana’s mom has raised enough money for a third lawyer, whom they hope will be able to help Felipe stay in the country, or leave the detention facility.
Ana is hoping that after her dad’s hearing, they can all get a bit more time to figure out how they can keep their family together.
“Our immigration laws, although focused on deterring undocumented immigration, do nonetheless provide remedies in some situations,” says Cho. “For humanitarian reasons, for example, some — but not all — persons who have serious medical conditions, witnesses in judicial proceedings, and persons who should be released for the ‘public interest’ may apply for permission to remain in the USA.”