Yisel Salazar has been in limbo for weeks, waiting for an answer to the most pressing question in her life: Would she be deported to Mexico as her son waits for a kidney transplant?
Now she knows and couldn’t be happier.
The 29-year-old Redmond woman was facing deportation when her legal immigrant status was denied because of a federal policy change Aug. 7. She was unsure what would happen to her or her 5-year-old son, Anthony, who has a potentially life-threatening kidney disorder.
But she learned Tuesday her status was restored and she can remain in the United States.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” she said Tuesday. “It’s just a huge relief.”
The reversal by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services allows Salazar to maintain her deferred action status, which indefinitely delays deportation while she seeks citizenship. She is about four years away from receiving a green card, which gives her a permanent resident status.
“It feels good to know that everything is going better,” she said.
Dan Larrson, an immigration lawyer in Bend who has represented Salazar for the past eight years, said media attention — The Bulletin broke the story Sept. 1 — and inquiries from lawmakers, doctors and activists helped put pressure on the U.S. immigration agency to revisit Salazar’s case.
The agency recently announced it would reconsider cases, including Salazar’s, that were pending during the policy change. She filed a renewal of her status in March and never heard back until August, when her case was denied.
“They decided to reopen and reconsider those cases,” Larrson said. “Her case was so strong I expected them to restore her status.”
Larrson said the policy change to no longer accept deferred action requests, except for those relating to certain military members, was a result of the Trump’s administration tightening of immigration laws. Larrson said he viewed the change as abrupt and not well thought out, since it left people like Salazar in difficult situations.
“I think that because of all the outcry over having terminated it in the first place, they decided to review and reconsider the denials they had already submitted,” Larrson said.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and U.S. Rep. Greg Walden each contacted U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on behalf of Salazar.
“I am very glad my office could help Ms. Salazar stay with her young son while he awaits lifesaving medical treatment,” said Wyden, D-Ore. “While I am gratified this case has reached a good outcome for mother and child, it unfortunately illustrates one more example of the Trump administration’s haphazard and cruel application of our nation’s immigration laws.”
Walden, R-Hood River, said the policy change that affected Salazar was unnecessary and he is happy to hear her status was restored.
“It’s the right decision and I’m sorry her and her family had to go through this,” Walden said. “We are glad with the outcome and hopefully her son can get the health treatment he needs for his kidney.”
Salazar still lives with the uncertainty of her son’s kidney disease, nephrotic syndrome, and whether he will get the kidney transplant he needs. He is often tethered to a blood pressure machine and a feeding pump that regulates his potentially kidney disorder.
But caring for Anthony will be easier without having to worry about being deported to Mexico, where she was born but has no family connections. Salazar was brought from Mexico to the United States in 2002 by her mother, who received asylum from Salazar’s abusive father under the Violence Against Women Act.
Salazar lived in Bakersfield, California, until 2007, when she moved to Redmond with the father of her children, Edgar Sanchez, a landscaper in Redmond. He is also a Mexican native seeking U.S. citizenship.
Salazar said she is grateful for the support from the Oregon lawmakers, doctors and activists who helped restore her legal status.
“I never thought I would get this much help,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting that much support from anybody.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7820, email@example.com