Rocio Rebollar Gomez, 50, has known no other home than San Diego for the past thirty years. On Thursday, the US government sent her to a foreign city ravaged by poverty and violence.
There is no doubt that United States President Donald Trump's approach to immigration has been rather cruel and heartbreaking. Ever since he assumed office in the White House, he has been in the business of tearing families apart. While many assumed that his bigoted policies would affect only "illegal" immigrants who do not contribute to American society, it turns out that's not true. In recent news, a US army officer was made to bid farewell to his mother when she was forced to leave the country due to her questionable citizenship status, CNN reports. The family has sadly been left broken and betrayed.
Second Lieutenant Gibram Cruz, 30, and his family have spent the past few months desperately trying to convince immigration officials to let his mother Rocio Rebollar Gomez, 50, continue to stay in the United States - all to no avail. Despite applying to a program that protects relatives of active US military members from deportation, Rebollar Gomez's request was denied. The family's frantic pleas fell on deaf ears and thus, on Thursday, the family had to say goodbye to their matriarch. Lt. Cruz said in a heartbreaking interview with CNN affiliate KSWB, "I feel betrayed, to be honest. A country that I'm serving, which I've served proudly... These policies that are put in place to keep my family safe have let me severely down." Perhaps the irony of Cruz dedicating his life to serve and protect American families from harm while the United States federal government tears his apart is lost on the country's immigration officials and agencies.
For more than 30 years now, Rebollar Gomez has called San Diego her home. Though she has no criminal record to her name, she has previously been deported a total of three times. However, she returned each time to take care of her family and ensure they were safe and comfortable, as any mother would. She was fleeing the violence and poverty that plagues her hometown of Acapulco in Mexico. As she has deep ties to the United States, especially the US military, she is an easy and vulnerable target for gang and cartel violence. "She would be an easy paycheck for them,” Cruz told the San Diego Union-Tribune a few weeks ago. “How am I supposed to keep her safe?” Nonetheless, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials showed no mercy regarding her special case, choosing to deport her.
What is most depressing, however, is the fact that Cruz was not able to say goodbye to her in person. He was able to visit her for a few days during the holidays but was called back for service quickly after. He had to bid farewell to her as their family crowded around a single cellphone. "I didn't say bye to her," Cruz explained to CNN affiliate KGTV. "I don't know when's the next time I'm going to see her." This is what Trump's administration policies are doing to families who deserve the opportunity to stay in the United States and build a better life for themselves. This is a heartbreak that the Cruz family will not be able to heal from any time soon - if at all, that is.