Diocelina Lopez-Flores, an immigrant single mother and a U Nonimmigrant Visa holder, is suing Custom and Border Protection after being arrested and forcibly returned to Mexico by CBP agents. The arrest and deportation happened despite her protected status under the U nonimmigrant program, her federal lawsuit states.
The incident began when Lopez-Flores’s then-14-year-old daughter ran away from home in 2015 to a border town in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Determined to retrieve her daughter, Lopez-Flores asked a friend across the border to drop the child off at the Rio Grande City Port of Entry, where mother and daughter agreed to reunite.
At the border, however, she was barred by Customs and Border Protection agents from meeting with her daughter. She attempted to describe her situation to the agents, and even presented them with work permits and immigration papers for both her and her daughter.
Regardless of the perfectly valid documentation, the CBP agents refused to let her daughter reenter the country, and instead, proceeded to detain Lopez-Flores.
Being in CBP custody was an ordeal; her fingerprints were taken, she was later informed that she was being deported, she was threatened with 6 months and automatic deportation when demanding to see an immigration judge, was coerced to sign documents she did not understand, and was threatened – told that her daughter would be placed under Mexican government custody.
Lopez-Flores was granted U Nonimmigrant Status—given by the U.S. government to victims of domestic assault, rape, and human trafficking to the end of helping police investigate such crimes—after an incident in 2011. Her car was set on fire and pushed into the Rio Grande while she and three of her children were bound, gagged, and threatened at gunpoint by men suspected to be part of a drug-smuggling ring.
The FBI later identified her as a cooperating victim of the crimes of kidnapping and hostage taking, a distinction that allowed her and her children to receive U nonimmigrant status, which was supposed to protect her from deportation.
Lopez-Flores and her daughter managed to return to Texas 10 days after her deportation, but she is demanding that the agents responsible for her unjust deportation be held liable for the punitive damage already done, false arrest, due process violations, and the resultant paranoia.
“Even now that she has returned to the United States and remains in U nonimmigrant status, she is terrified that she may be removed again, severing ties with her children,” her complaint states.
As part of her endeavor against the CBP, Lopez-Flores has begun gathering similar horror stories from other immigrants who were tricked and misled by Border Patrol officials – many claiming that “there is no more asylum” for fearful aliens like herself.
The CBP has refused to comment on the pending case.
If you, or a loved one, are facing a similar situation or simply want to know about your rights under special nonimmigrant programs, don’t hesitate to talk to the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today to sit down for a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.