ICE Deports Brooklyn Grandmother After Three Decades In U.S.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported a Brooklyn woman who has lived in the U.S. for three decades to Mexico on Tuesday night, without giving her family members any notice.

According to NY1, Gloria Hernandez Suarez arrived in the United States 33 years ago, in 1985. The 61-year-old has reportedly spent the past two months in a detention center in New Jersey—a state that's making millions every month off its agreement to hold detainees—after ICE agents showed up at her door and arrested her in mid-July. She allegedly used a fake ID to reenter the country after a visit to Mexico in 2001, and her family says ICE took notice due to a filing mistake by her former attorney. According to NY1, her former attorney also told her she didn't need to attend the hearing set for her. She was later arrested at her home.

"She was failed by her prior attorney," her current attorney, David Mullins, told the NY Post. "She was failed by the immigration [system], all at the same time, in a terrible way."

"It's a shame," he added. "And it shows a lack of real basic human decency on the part of ICE."

The rest of Suarez's family—her husband, four children, and their children—are U.S. citizens. Her daughter, Nancy Aquino, spoke at a press conference outside ICE's Manhattan office on Wednesday. She told attendees that her mother had called her on Monday night, and sounded "very anxious" that "something bad was going to happen." The next night, unbeknownst to her family, authorities put Suarez on a plane.

"My mother is not a criminal," Aquino said. "The only thing she wanted was to be in this country with her family—with her kids, her grandchildren and her husband."

UPDATE: The New Sanctuary Coalition tells Gothamist that Suarez's trouble began after her husband went to her former immigration lawyer seeking to sponsor his wife, and although he did not specifically ask about asylum, that's the route the attorney went. "He filed an asylum application for her knowing that it [would] be denied and she [would] end up in deportation proceedings," an NSC spokesperson said.

Featured in News