ICE halts deportation of terminally-ill trafficking victim

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Woman hopes terminal cancer diagnosis will prevent deportation, allow her to 'die with dignity' in U.S.
Gloria Barrera has only a few months to live. Facing deportation, the 54-year-old Melrose Park grandmother is hoping immigration officials will take terminal cancer diagnosis into

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Gloria Barrera has only a few months to live - and immigration officials decided last week that she'll live them out in the United States.

ABC7 Eyewitness News spoke with the 54-year-old Melrose Park grandmother earlier this month as she appeared before immigration officials, facing deportation. She hoped that immigration officials would take her terminal cancer diagnosis into consideration before sending her back to Mexico, where she feared dying alone.

"I want to die with dignity and with my family, in the company of my husband, my children and my grandchildren," Barrera said at the time via a translator.

Last week Barrera was placed on an order of supervision that requires her to check in with ICE again in August 2019.

Barrera and her legal team released a statement calling deportations "a death sentence" that "must stop."

"My case is a very clear example that this system is broken, it is very unfair and it does not work," she said in the statement. "And for that reason it must be abolished, because I am being punished and judged when I am a victim of both kidnappers and immigration."

Barrera came to the United States in 1984. She lived as a legal permanent resident until a few years ago when three misdemeanor retail theft charges of less than $150 led to her deportation.

Barrera is back in the U.S. on account of being a survivor of human trafficking, having been kidnapped and held for ransom in 2013.

"They had the intention of using her for human trafficking," said Christopher Elmore, Barrera's attorney. "Fortunately she was able to get away from them. As soon as she did, she was detained by ICE."

Barrera said she was detained for a year, during which she said ICE refused to give her medical assistance for abdominal pain. After Barrera was granted bond, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that had already spread to several more organs.

"If immigration had listened to me, I would now have more time to enjoy my family," she said.