Immigration

Ohio court rules in favor of deported Mexican mother of four; case to be reopened

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati asked immigration officials to reconsider the case, citing death threats from a cartel that were not previously taken into account.

When Maribel Trujillo was deported to Mexico in April, her case became a symbol of a harsh new era of immigration under President Donald Trump. She had been in the country for 15 years, had no criminal record and was the mother of four American-born children, between 3 and 14 years of age. One of her children has a disability. Trujillo also presented evidence that showed her life could be at risk in Mexico if she were expelled.

Now, a panel of three judges from a federal appeals court in Cincinnati, Ohio, has ordered the case to be reconsidered. According to the panel, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) "abused its discretion," since Trujillo had shown evidence of credible threats in Mexico.

"Thus, we ... remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion," the ruling reads.

The opinion in favor of Trujillo was written by a conservative judge nominated by President Trump, John K. Bush. The case now moves back to the BIA.

Immigration officials first came in contact with Trujillo in 2007, when she worked in a Koch Foods plant that was raided by federal authorities.

Trujillo had received a work permit and lived on probation in the city of Fairfield, Ohio, although she had a final deportation order from 2014. Trujillo was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on April 5, 2017, two days after she left an appointment with instructions to return in May. She was deported April 19, 2017.

At that time, an ICE official told Univision that Trujillo had exhausted all options to remain in the country.

"Maribel Trujillo's immigration case has been reviewed at multiple levels of our legal system and the courts have uniformly decided that she has no legal basis to remain in the United States," spokeswoman Rachael Yong Yow of ICE said in an email.

The court's decision calls into question the process of deportation faced by Trujillo. Her lawyers had requested that her case be reopened because there was evidence that circumstances had "changed" in her native country. Her brother had to flee Mexico years earlier after refusing to join a cartel. As a result, her father was kidnapped in 2014. According to his testimony under oath, his captors told him: "We know that Maribel went to the United States."

In spite of that evidence, immigration judges determined that Trujillo had not clearly demonstrated that she could be subject to violence upon returning.

As determind by Bush Wednesday, that conclusion was erroneous.

Trujillo's father's testimony "contained concrete, factual assertions as to the familial motivation behind his kidnapping and the threat of harm to Trujillo Diaz," it read.

Before her deportation, Trujillo was very involved in her Fairfield church. Her attorneys had hoped that statements made by Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Rob Portman and even Ohio Governor John Kasich in support of Trujillo would have been enough to convince ICE to halt the deportation.