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  • Since August, Tania Romero has been held at Irwin County Detention Center in south Georgia, a for-profit facility about 200 miles south of Atlanta.

    Since August, Tania Romero has been held at Irwin County Detention Center in south Georgia, a for-profit facility about 200 miles south of Atlanta. | Photo: Cristian Padilla Romero

Published 5 November 2019

Tania Romero, a cancer survivor, is fighting to remain in the United States with her four children. 

Two months ago, Tania Romero, an undocumented mother of four from Honduras and survivor of stage IV cancer was pulled over by police for a minor traffic infraction and arrested for not having a driver’s license. Due to her migratory status, Immigration and Customs Enforcement imprisoned her, now her son is fighting to halt her deportation.

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“My experience here has not been easy. There are a lot of people inside this detention facility, so we don’t get much sleep,” the woman said speaking on a phone call from detention Monday afternoon to her son, Cristian Padilla Romero. Romero was imprisoned by ICE at the for-profit Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia, interrupting thus, her life-saving medical treatments. 

“I need to see my oncologist because I am not getting any care here. I need to see him. I had an appointment with the oncologist at the hospital in September, and I have not been able to see him yet,” she explained.

Romero’s lawyer requested a stay of deportation on humanitarian grounds because of his client's health condition, but the demand was rejected in September. 

Romero's son Cristian, a Ph.D. student in Latin American history at Yale University, has been fighting and organizing against his mother’s deportation and for her immediate liberation, with a petition, that gathered more than 30,000 signatures so far. 

Padilla is protected by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which grants undocumented migrants who arrived in the United States as children, protection from deportation and a renewable work permit, as well as the ability to study. President Donald Trump has been trying to rescind the protection.

“Our attorney has been fighting to get her released so she can see her oncologist, specifically the appointment she had in early September which she missed. So we have no idea where her cancer situation is at the moment in terms of the remission,” Padilla told Democracy now.

“We started this campaign last week because we are really fearful for her health. And we really want to ask for people’s support to build pressure on ICE to release her while we await the pending motions to the courts,” he added.

Romero’s son said the support was “incredible” and the petition - a collective effort led by his peers from Yale University, as well as professors and different organizers - had unbelievable success. 

He also said that along with many people who contacted him to propose their support, Congresswoman Lucy McBath’s brought her aid, helping to submit an inquiry to ICE regarding the case.

"My mother is the bedrock of our family and community. An immigrant from rural Honduras, my mom has worked her whole life as a housekeeper, restaurant dishwasher, and construction worker so that my three siblings and I could have a better life than the one she lived back in Honduras," Padilla shared in the petition.

The young man recalled that his mother’s current situation and the case of his family are just one among hundreds of thousands of families that “have been torn apart” over the last years as a result of Trump’s harsh migration policies. 

The detention centers in the U.S. have increasingly become objects of strong criticism, especially after human rights organizations released independent reports denouncing overcrowded and unhealthy conditions prevailing in these facilities.

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