An Oxford student has successfully petitioned the U.S. government to allow his mother to cross the Mexico-U.S. border to see his dying father.
St. Anthony’s student Bill De La Rosa started the online and press campaign after U.S. authorities denied his mother’s plea for humanitarian parole.
Bill’s father, Arsenio De La Rosa, 85, is hospitalised in the USA, and doctors predict he has only a few weeks to live.
Bill and his mother, Gloria Arellano Montoya, crossed the Mexico-U.S. border at Nogales Port, Arizona late last week. Bill, his father, and his three siblings are all U.S. citizens, but his mother was barred from entering the U.S. for ten years in 2009 after being denied a green card. Bill’s brother Jim was honourably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2011 to become their father’s full-time caregiver.
Mr De La Rosa, who is a Marshall Scholar at Oxford, told Cherwell: “I believe my family had all of this support because people felt this was an injustice. The fact that the U.S. immigration authorities were not allowing my mom to see my dad even for just one day was plain cruel and inhumane.
“This outcome means the world to me, particularly because this means that we can come together as a family one last time.”
The change.org petition, addressed to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, received 16,069 signatures. Mr De La Rosa’s efforts received public attention in Arizonan local and regional press, as well as the support of local U.S. Congressman, Rep. Grijalva.
Mr De La Rosa wrote in the petition: “U.S. immigration law has already torn my family’s lives apart.
“My father is dying. The very least the U.S. government can do is allow her to see him one last time, and to allow him to see his wife during the final moments he has.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) originally denied Bill’s mother’s application on 21 August, citing her 2009 denial of residency and ban on reentry. Bill launched his campaign the following day, saying he found this decision “strange” since “my mom had previously been granted humanitarian parole in 2011 when my dad suffered his first stroke.”
His mother Gloria had then been allowed into the U.S. for five days, with the CBP granting her another five-day extension upon completion.
In addition to the petition, Bill contacted U.S. and Arizona representatives, held a press conference, and had multiple TV and newspaper interviews.
The U.S. government reversed their decision by the morning of 24 August. Bill’s mother was given a 30-day humanitarian parole, longer than the temporary length Bill had expected.
He told Cherwell: “When I first heard about this, I simply could not believe it, especially the length of her humanitarian parole. I went down to Mexico that same morning to pick her up and cross the U.S.-Mexico border together.”
Bill De La Rosa thanked all those who had supported his campaign in a video moments after crossing the border.