The Virginia mother of two who became the face of an immigration reform battle was deported to El Salvador, immigration officials said Tuesday.
Liliana Cruz Mendez, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, was placed into deportation proceedings after she went to a regular check-in with immigration officials last month. She was deported Wednesday and arrived in El Salvador Thursday, said Maria Fernanda Durand, communications manager for CASA, a Latino and immigrant organization.
“We are heartbroken at the way Liliana Cruz Mendez has been ripped from her family,” a statement from CASA said.
Cruz Mendez, a Falls Church resident, was fleeing violence in El Salvador when she entered the U.S. illegally. She skipped an appearance in immigration court shortly after arriving in the U.S., which triggered an “in absentia” deportation order against her, said her attorney, Nick Katz.
She was stopped by police in 2013 for a broken taillight and was convicted in 2014 for driving without a license, CASA officials said. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe pardoned the traffic offense last month in hopes it would prevent her deportation.
Her case triggered a protest at the White House last month.
She has two U.S.-born children, an 11-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter, who are still in the U.S. She was employed at a restaurant with a federal work permit, CASA said.
“Breaking up this Northern Virginia family will not make anyone safer,” said U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, who represents Falls Church in Congress, in a statement Tuesday.