A 3-year-old daughter’s birthday party should be a joyous occasion, but a trip to the store to buy supplies for it lead to tragedy for one Arizona woman.
In an interview with The Daily News, 22-year-old Araceli Mercado Sanchez said that she had simply gone to the store for paper plates, when she was pulled over for a traffic violation. The officer determined that she was not in the country legally, and threatened her with deportation.
When questioned about her citizenship status, Sanchez admitted that while she has been living in the United States since she was a child, she has done so illegally. However, she did show the officer her military spouse ID card, so according to her lawyer, the arrest should never have happened.
Her husband, Pfc. Guillermo Garcia, is currently serving in Germany.
Sanchez also admitted that she does not possess a green card, Social Security card or driver’s license, but regardless of the fact that she was brought to the U.S. illegally by her mother and father, she has absolutely no criminal record.
According to the family attorney, Richard Green, when Garcia heard about his wife’s arrest, “he was freaking out,” as being stationed overseas rendered him essentially powerless to help.
Green went on to state that her arrest by police was in direct violation of a law that the Obama administration enacted in 2010. That law, titled “parole in peace” was set up specifically to allow the loved ones of military personnel the chance of applying to become legal citizens without being forced to first exit the country.
Green says that the papers for Sanchez to begin receiving the parole were filed back in March, but that they never heard anything back on their status.
Sanchez reported that while she was in custody, she spent time in 2 separate prisons in which she received inadequate amounts of food, and water that she described as “foul smelling.”
A spokesman from the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) stated that the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol transferred Sanchez to them, and was almost immediately released upon ICE learning of her marriage to a service member.
The ICE official went on to say “through smart and effective immigration enforcement, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is committed to ensuring that its limited resources are focused on the removal of those who pose a threat to public safety such as criminal aliens and national security threats, as well as repeat immigration law violators, recent border entrants, and fugitives from immigration court.”
Sanchez said that her time in prison was terrifying, including the conditions and her cellmates. “I could have never imagined where I was. I couldn’t pee, and I ended up having blood in my urine,” she said. She went on to say that the stress of the environment was affecting her cellmates as well, with one of them suffering from facial paralysis due to stress, and another one who “was just rocking back and forth. Everyone was so scared.”
Upon her release, she was picked up by her family members, who drove 6 hours to get her.
She stated that her husband was incredibly relieved when he heard of her release. She said “he was very upset about everything. He’s just glad it’s over. I’m glad I’m home, I’m glad I get to wake up with my daughter. This week has been the longest of my life.”