Los Angeles – An undocumented Mexican who has lived in the United States for more than 20 years and was deported last month while undergoing dialysis treatments has obtained a humanitarian visa that allowed him to reenter this country.
Francisco Cortez Lopez, a resident of Pasadena, California, was deported to Tijuana, Mexico, on Nov. 15.
"They came to my house looking for another person and asked me to come outside for a moment because they wanted to examine my vehicle," said Cortez at a press conference at the headquarters of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, or CHIRLA.
Once he went outside he was arrested by immigration authorities and six hours later he had already been deported to Tijuana.
"Suddenly, I was in Tijuana, alone, without knowing anybody and with five dollars in my pocket," the father of three U.S.-born children told Efe.
"My main worry was thinking that if I didn't get dialysis I could die," added Cortez, who worked as an electrical technician and plumber.
Upon learning of the deportation, Esperanza Chavez, his girlfriend and the mother of the three children, decided to resort to every means possible so that Francisco could return to the country.
"The more lost we are is when we have to have more hope in God and seek help wherever it may be, knock on doors and not give up," she said.
On the third day after being deported, Chavez, a housecleaner, contacted CHIRLA and told them what had happened.
"We acted as quickly as possible to denounce the case in the communications media, sending a letter requesting a humanitarian pardon to the immigration authorities and contacting Congressman Adam Schiff," Jorge-Mario Cabrera, CHIRLA's communications director, told Efe.
Meanwhile, Cortez was making fruitless attempts in Tijuana to try and obtain dialysis services without which his life would be in danger.
"I went to several public hospitals and to the health insurance (authorities). I obtained health insurance coverage but it didn't cover dialysis treatment," said Cortez, who during his 12 days in Tijuana slept in the Casa del Inmigrante (Immigrant Home), which offers lodging and a little food to people who need them.
There came a point, he said, where he thought it was not going to be possible to return to the United States "or be able to be with my family again and I decided to disconnect myself from them."
However, the efforts of CHIRLA, of attorney Meredith Brown who took Cortez's case pro bono and of Rep. Schiff (D-Calif.), among others, got the immigration authorities to issue a humanitarian visa that allowed Cortez to be reunited with his family.
"It's a good ending for this family who is reunited and for Mr. Francisco Cortez to now have access to the medical care on which his life depends," Angelica Salas, CHIRLA's executive director, told EFE.