Despite there being no reason why she should have been a deportation priority, Gomez was then shifted to four different detention facilities, and as she continued to get further and further away from home, she and her kids were becoming more and more terrified they would be torn from each other—but then the Las Vegas community stepped in to rally for her release, which finally happened after 10 days:
Gomez—who was joined by her sons Ricardo Avelar-Gomez, 18, Eric Avelar-Gomez, 13, [UNLV Immigration Clinic’s Laura] Barrera, Las Vegas Workers Center Director Bliss Requa-Trautz, and several activists—praised the Las Vegas community for coming together to secure her release. Requa-Trautz said activist organizations like the Workers Center and Make the Road Nevada and local elected officials all assisted, although she refused to name specific politicians.
“If it weren’t for these people, I would not be here now,” Gomez said. “I would be one of the millions that have been ripped apart from their families.”
Barrera said that what happened to Gomez isn’t an isolated incident. “It’s not just happening here in Las Vegas, it’s all over the country,” she said. “People need to be prepared if they’re going to take that next step,” including having an attorney present at permanent residency and citizenship appointments.
Following her release, one of Gomez’s sons translated an emotional statement from the mom, where she wrote that during her 10-day detention, she witnessed cruelties and “felt especially powerless … I was humiliated, mocked and stripped of my humanity”:
“While I was detained I asked multiple times for someone to document my injury but was repeatedly refused. They think that just because we are immigrants, they can do whatever they want to us. When I was detained, I saw so much injustice. If not for the community and organizations and individuals that called for my release, I would not be here now.”
According to Las Vegas Now, Gomez’s attorney said “that because they are pursuing an investigation on that ICE agent who allegedly assaulted Cecilia, they will not be releasing further details on her injuries.” Gomez’s attorney said she will continue to have regular check-ins, and “a motion to reopen Gomez’s case is pending … after which the path to citizenship will take years.”