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US Immigration Enforcement Leaves Sick Americans Separated From Non-Citizen Families and Caregivers


Humanitarian Parole allows barred immigrants to temporarily enter the U.S. in dire circumstances like extreme family or medical issues.
But according to the federal government- only about 25% of these applications are approved each year. As Simon Thompson reports…US immigration enforcement can leave sick and suffering Americans separated from their non-citizen family and caregivers.

Rosa Mani’s 12-year-old daughter Emily was diagnosed with systemic juvenile onset arthritis; an intense condition that causes her immune system to attack her joints and internal organs. Her condition is compounded by severe depression, epilepsy, osteoporosis and scoliosis. She is currently receiving treatment in Chicago.

Despite her young daughter’s suffering and need– Her mother Rosa can’t be there with her.  Past illegal entries into the U.S. led US Customs and Immigration to bar Rosa from getting a visa or entering the country. Stuck in Mexico- she hasn’t been able to see her daughter for 2 years.

In a video plea Rosa Mani said

“A little girl, she doesn’t know why her mom isn’t with her, or why there needs to be such a complicated immigration process, or why a border divides us. She only knows that her mom isn’t there with her to take her to the hospital, to see her grow, to give her medication, or to simply be able to hug her in the midst of her pain” Mani said

How do we get a mother and a daughter who is deathly ill together, that has not seen each other for 2 years.” said Roberto Reed.

Reed is the lead pastor at Sonoma Springs Covenant Church in Las Cruces he, his church and a coalition of immigration advocates are petitioning on behalf of Rosa Mani with US Immigration.

“Emily, Rosas daughter has special needs related to her sickness and so as a father my heart goes out to a mother that can’t be with her daughter. I can’t imagine what that would be like.” Reed said.               

Rosa’s daughter Emily wasn’t moved to the U.S. by choice, she was moved to get biological treatment. Pastor Reed said the family did try to stay in Mexico where they had a good life- but they couldn’t get access to the care Emily needed.

Good jobs, real estate, house, a car. Then the daughter was diagnosed- they went through health care in Mexico, exhausted all the possibilities there. Depleted all of their resources couldn’t pay $4000 a month and so thus went to the US embassy to ask for a humanitarian visa for their daughter that was a US citizen.

Reed said

“It was denied- so what do you do? They sent the daughter across the father is with them” “So out of desperation crossed (illegally) and detained a detention facility prison”

US Citizenship and Immigration Services do have a Humanitarian Parole policy for extreme cases such as dire medical conditions. But Pastor Roberto Reed said he witnessed Rosa being denied that parole.  

 “We went to the Santa Fe bridge, had like a 160 plus pages of documents and these medical records… they met with her- Of the 3 hours she was held alone 3 minutes perhaps. Later when I spoke to one of the directors, one of the chiefs- he said yeah I reviewed the case.”

Reed said

“I said do you know what the daughters illness is for humanitarian parole and he said I think it is leukemia, seemingly they did not look at the humanitarian reasons.”

Noble & Vrapi Attorney Jessica Miles represents Mani- she said it was denied without good reasons or even a fair review.

“What the internal guidance says is- they have to review every case on a case by case basis, but they have to give every piece a meaningful review and in this case they just haven’t done that, they have really have been giving Rosa and her family the run around from the very beginning”  Miles said.

So a coalition of immigration advocates, including Roberto Reed, recently showed up at US Immigration offices in El Paso– their hope is to push Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha to positively review Rosa Mani’s case.

“This is the letter we are going to deliver to the director Hector Mancha. We are asking him to grant humanitarian parole to Rosa so she can come to the United States and be reunited with her sick daughter.” Reed said.

That petition already has close to 600 signatures- Reed said Mani’s case touched him, his church and the broader community on a religious and human level and that is why they became involved.

“There is a moral issue which I think is black and white. There is a power issue- CBP has the power, Hector Mancha has the discretionary power to make things right.” Reed said.

“Children aren’t just raised by logic or hospitals. Mothers are pretty important in society and family life, always have been and still are so at this age a young girl not being with her mother is sad!” 

Reed said he hopes continued dialogue and support from members of the community will push US Immigration to positively re-evaluate Rosa’s case. He said holding Immigration accountable and pushing for change could help countless others.
“Rosa is one women of millions in her case represents a system that is broken, it doesn’t look at the human side. There needs to be a pathway and a process- there needs to be humanity in how in a sense it doesn’t look at the human side there needs to be a pathway and process.” Reed said.

Rosa Mani is not alone.  Federal statistics said only about 25% of humanitarian parole applications are approved each year.

Simon Thompson was a reporter/producer for KRWG-TV's Newsmakers from 2014 to 2017. Encores of his work appear from time to time on KRWG-TV's Newsmakers and KRWG-FM's Fronteras-A Changing America.