Erika Andiola, the prominent "dreamer" and immigration activist who quit her job as a congressional staffer to fight her mother's deportation, found out Thursday that her mother has received a stay of deportation and will not have to face a hearing in January.
"There was so much pressure," Andiola told BuzzFeed after receiving word from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about her mother Maria Arreola. "They said, 'You're making this story too public, just come in and we'll give your mom a stay.'"
Andiola said the message was delivered to her lawyer but when she didn't hear back and get official word, she decided to head to ICE Thursday unannounced with 2,000 petitions in hand, along with a letter signed by 25 members of Congress who supported her in trying to stop her mother's deportation proceedings.
But the fight isn't over, Andiola said.
"For our family this is great that it's happening; we're really happy that we don't have to worry about this during the holidays, but the reality is that it's just one more year."
Andiola, who quit her job with Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema because she felt that she was unable to do enough from within as a dreamer, brought others with her to ICE as well.
"Another family was here with us — their father is going to be deported tomorrow," she said of Ardani Rosales. "We wanted to bring his case to their attention. Our family is really, really happy but we're also a family now of activists and we have a bigger family now. His case is just as deserving as my mother's; it's just not public like mine was."
The immigration activist website United We Dream, wrote about Rosales case:
Adarni was pulled over for a minor traffic violation and was placed in deportation proceedings. No father should be deported for driving to work, our community is in crisis and senseless deportations must come to an end.
In a statement to BuzzFeed, ICE reiterated that the facts of Andiola's mother's case have not changed since last year, but did not address Andiola's comments that the agency wanted her case and the ensuing public attention to go away.
"As determined in January, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) exercised prosecutorial discretion following a full review of this case, and that determination remains warranted," the statement read.
Sinema said she's happy for Andiola.
"I am pleased that ICE did the right thing and is allowing Erika's mother to stay with her family," she said in a statement. "But there are still thousands of Arizona families waiting for Congress to fix our broken immigration system. We need to pass common sense reform that keeps families together, secures our border and grows our economy."
Andiola said she will not be returning to the congresswoman's office.
"No, I feel like right now there is more work to do outside," she said.
Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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