Neofita Silva has been battling with immigration since 2005, but she recently received notice that she will be deported on Jan. 3.
"I'm concerned because my kids are living in a stressful environment. It hasn't happened yet, but it's something that worries me because I don't know what will happen if it does," Silva said in Spanish.
Lori Haley, a communications director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told New Times via email that "an immigration judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review determined Silva did not have lawful basis to live in the United Sates and ordered her removal to Mexico in 2005."
Haley said Silva filed an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), which dismissed the case in 2006. In 2008, she filed a petition for review of the BIA's decision with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals—it was denied. In 2009, the BIA denied her motion to reopen her immigration case, exhausting her legal avenues for appeal.
"It should be noted that officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement granted Silva a total of six stays of removal while she appealed her immigration case to the nation's courts," Haley said.
Silva has been working and raising her family on the Central Coast for 25 years with a work permit. She's a homeowner, a full-time employee, and Sunday school teacher.
For the past 18 years, she has been checking in with the ICE office to let them know of her presence in the country and to renew her permit.
"I wanted to run away from that place because I felt in that moment they would take me away," she said.
Although she has no criminal history, Silva said the Santa Maria ICE office told her she was being deported because of her status in the country.
Originally from Acapulco, Mexico, the only relative she could stay with there would be her mother.
"After two decades I don't know what that place is like. It's not the same as it once was," she said.
Dawn Addis, a coordinator of Women's March SLO, said the organization is calling on the community to help Silva.
"We are asking the public to call, write, and email to ask that Silva be allowed to stay and care for her daughter, who is of minor age," Addis said.
With the help of the Women's March, Silva is receiving support from Congressman Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara), San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon, and Grover Beach Mayor Pro Tem Miriam Shah.
Silva has three children, a 16-year-old in high school, an 18-year-old in college, and 24-year-old living in San Diego. She worries that if she were to be taken away there won't be anyone to take care of her children and she would lose her home.
"I can only have faith in God that their hearts will change; that people will pay attention to my situation and help me," she said. "I can only wait for a miracle from God that this doesn't happen."