Commentary: LAS CRUCES – On Wednesday, June 7th, 2017, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported Francia Elena-Castaño, separating her from her children, her husband, and her church community. Francia lived in the Las Cruces community for nearly 20 years and was an active and beloved member of Our Lady of Health Catholic Church.
ICE Deputy Director Fierro denied Francia’s two sons, Jefferson and Steven, their final moments with their Mother as Francia’s deportation was set in motion, denying her a last phone call and never telling her lawyer or her family. ICE deported Francia to Colombia, a country she has not been to in 20 years, without notifying anyone in America. "I feel disappointed, not by the decision alone but mostly because of the secrecy of their decision and not notifying us. Not allowing us to properly say our goodbyes to her,” said Jefferson Taborda, Francia’s oldest son. “They took my chance at seeing her before she left."
NM CAFé leaders and clergy grieve with Francia’s family and church community knowing that Francia’s absence in her family, church, and in Las Cruces will be felt for years to come. "It makes me very sad to hear that ICE deported Francia. We were supposed to visit her and I feel like ICE has no heart and morals towards immigrants,” said Maria Corrales, parishioner at Our Lady of Health. “It breaks my heart to see Steven separated from his mom because every child needs their mother. I am disgusted and disappointed about how our immigration system separates families."
What happened to Francia is not an isolated or unique incident. ICE is actively targeting and deporting people who have lived in our community for decades, have children and deeply rooted lives in our community. “I’m disappointed that a mother, not only with no criminal record, but a model Christian, has been deported and definitively separated from her family and community,” commented Bishop Oscar Cantú. “I thought it was the ‘bad guys’ who were supposed to be targeted, not Church-going moms.