The mother of a Yale University doctoral student is being sent back to a detention facility in Georgia after nearly being deported Sunday night by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Cristian Padilla Romero said his phone rang just after midnight.
“I got a call from one of my mom’s inmate friends, and she was crying and she said they took my mom,” he told Connecticut Public Radio.
Romero, whose family is originally from Honduras, grew up in Atlanta. His mother, Tania Romero, is undocumented.
In August, she was pulled over for a traffic violation in Georgia and then arrested and placed in ICE detention.
But Romero said he was stunned to hear that his mother had been taken Sunday, either to another detention facility or potentially to be deported.
“We have appeals pending,” he said. “I have written and verbal confirmation from the Honduran Consulate and the embassy that they do not have her travel documents.”
Later Monday, he learned that the lack of those documents prevented ICE from putting his mother on a plane to Honduras today.
Romero said that when he was growing up, his mother worked up to three jobs at a time to support her children. She’s also stage 4 cancer survivor.
After his mother’s arrest earlier this year, Romero said he considered not returning to Yale to continue his studies in 20th century Central American history.
“It’s very difficult,” he said. “I mean, even starting this semester was a decision that took a lot of deliberation on my part. I wanted to be home. I finally decided to come and continue the semester and see what I could do from here. And I think I’ve been doing a decent job of that up until last week and this week where it’s like I’ve been on high alert 24/7 because of the situation she’s in.”
A spokeswoman at ICE's Atlanta field office told Connecticut Public Radio that because of privacy restrictions the agency is unable to comment on the case.
Cristian Padilla Romero himself is legally protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday centering on President Trump’s efforts to end those protections.
This story has been updated.