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In South Florida today, deportation relief came for Reina Gómez, a community leader and organizer who was facing deportation despite suffering from a rare form of leukemia that requires frequent treatment. Reina will now be able to stay in the United States and request a work permit and driver’s license for one more year. Her stay comes after an outpouring of support and activity from groups like the Miami Workers Center. As Reina said in a statement:
In this moment I feel my heart full of joy, I was living a long time with anguish around my case and where it was going. I am very excited about the success of being able to stay one more year, and being able to drive and go to work. Right now all I see is my people smiling at the success of our collective victory. As a woman in this movement, I am thankful for the fact that I can be an example for others to keep on fighting. I want to especially thank organizations that made this effort successful and to say that you gave us all a victory and a reason to fight for others.
Reina fled an abusive relationship in Honduras and came to the US seeking asylum 12 years ago. Since then, she’s been a leader in her community, participating in hunger strikes to win workers’ rights as a janitor, speaking up for domestic workers’ rights, and fighting on behalf of low-wage women workers.
After her asylum petition was denied, Reina — due to her terminal illness — was allowed to stay in the country as long as she checked in with ICE every year. But this year, Donald Trump has been detaining and deporting immigrants like Reina from all over the country — those who have been in the US for decades, who haven’t done anything wrong, who have been checking in with ICE for years, who often have US-citizen spouses or children, and who work and pay taxes.
For Reina, deportation would have been a literal death sentence. As she told a CBS Miami:
My doctor says to send me to Honduras is the same as sentencing me to death because there’s no treatment for my condition there…[ICE] say they’re only deporting people who’ve committed crimes and I’ve committed no crime. All I’m asking for is that they give me the opportunity to stay here and keep working to pay my treatment to stay alive.