Couple self-deports, leaves daughters behind

An Oakland couple and one of their four children were forced to deport themselves Wednesday evening, leaving the country on a flight to Mexico from San Francisco International Airport, according to a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Maria and Eusebio Sanchez arrived here in the U.S. in 1992 and 1989, respectively. They bought a home and raised a family.

Maria pursued a career in nursing, and worked for Highland Hospital. Eusebio worked as a truck driver.

Carl Shusterman, their immigration attorney, said Thursday:

“I can’t think of anyone who had more to offer to the U.S. than these people. … It’s very sad. We’re not judging people on their merits. … We’re just judging people on their … races – typecasting people as criminals and rapists.”

A court order for him to leave the country was finalized in 2013, according to ICE. One-year stays of removal were issued on two separate occasions, and a 90-day stay of removal was issued in May. It expired this week.

The government’s position on their case, which has been passing through the immigration court system for more than a decade, is that neither Maria nor Eusebio have legal standing to remain in the U.S.

ICE spokesman James Schwab said Thursday in a statement:

“While ICE continues to prioritize its enforcement resources to focus on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security, the agency’s Acting Director has made it clear that ICE will not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. … All of those in violation of our nation’s immigration laws may be subject to arrest, detention and, if found removable by the immigration courts, as this couple was, removal from the United States.”

Three of their four children are citizens, however, according to their attorney Carl Shusterman. Their daughters, ages 23, 21 and 16, will continue to live in the family home. They’ve saved up enough money for two years of mortgage payments, according to their attorney.

In the lead-up to their departure, the couple attempted to rally support for their cause with the media – an effort which caught the attention of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Feinstein said in a statement:

“This is a travesty, plain and simple, and evidence that Donald Trump’s immigration policy is nothing more than a hateful deportation program targeting law-abiding families. … It’s shameful and stands against the very ideals upon which this country was founded.”

Feinstein added:

“I’ll continue to do everything I can to fight for the Sanchez family and all families across the country who have been so callously targeted. … This is a disgraceful day for America.” U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) said, “I am saddened beyond words by this decision, but my commitment to protecting our immigrant community remains unshaken.”

She’s scheduled a community forum to discuss immigration reform and the Trump administration’s enforcement and deportation policies at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the International Community School Gymnasium at 2825 International Blvd., Oakland.