Washington News Bureau

Father fights to bring wife home who self-deported before son’s cancer diagnosis

A Georgia father is fighting to bring his wife home from Mexico after their young son was diagnosed with cancer.

Cecilia Gonzalez-Carmona had self-deported to Mexico in 2018 because she was here illegally, and the Trump administration’s policies no longer allowed her to stay.

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"We tell him, ‘mommy wants to be here,’" Jason Rochester said.

His son Ashton was just 5 years old when doctors found a tumor on his kidney.

"He had to go through the whole treatment and surgeries without having his mom,” Rochester said.

Rochester said his wife initially left thinking she could return after a year or two by applying for citizenship, but they later learned the law banned her for a minimum of ten years.

Even after that 10-year mark, he said there’s no guarantee she would be granted access back into the U.S.

Rochester said his wife applied for humanitarian parole after Ashton’s cancer diagnosis but was denied.

"Everything you can do, you do, and then your hands are tied,” Rochester said.

Now Rochester is taking his fight to Capitol Hill, urging lawmakers to push for a pathway for citizenship for illegal immigrants who haven’t been in any trouble since entering the U.S.

He spent Wednesday talking to members of Congress and their staff.

"We're just letting them know that we need a change,” Rochester said.

Ashton is now in good health and is enjoying life as a first-grader. He mainly relies on FaceTime to see and talk to his mother.

Rochester is hoping Congress will help reunite the family.

"No one is all good and no one is all bad so you can't just put everybody in a big group and say, ‘because you're undocumented, you don't belong here.’” Rochester said. “There should be ways of fixing it."

There was legislation introduced in 2017 that would give waivers to some illegal immigrants allowing them to stay, but it never made it through Congress.

Immigrant rights advocates are now working with Democrats and Republicans to re-introduce a similar bill.

President Trump has said his immigration policies restore the rule of law and prevent the entry of unlawful people.

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