FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Erika Leon Mejia's family has been torn apart by an immigration issue.
She is 30 and was brought to the U.S. by her mother from Mexico when she was 11. She grew up in Fowler. Oday Guerrero is one of her closest friends.
"I've known Erika since elementary school we used to go to school together we even graduated from high school together," said Guerrero.
Erika went on to graduate from Fresno State and received a waiver to stay in this country under DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as the Dream Act. She got a job at Wells Fargo, married, had two kids and bought a house.
Under direction from the US government, she returned to Mexico three weeks ago to file for a residency permit. It was denied, and she was not allowed to return to the U.S. She is now staying in Culiacan, in the state of Sinaloa. We spoke with her over Facetime.
"Right now I am staying at my grandmother's house I have my kids with me," said Leon.
She has a 10-month-old son and 4-year-old daughter. Her husband had to return to Fowler to work. He and her friends are now trying to figure out how to get her home.
Guerrero is upset about what's happened to her friend. " It's not just people who have a criminal record who are being prosecuted and turned away its anyone really because it's up to their discretion, it's up to immigrations discretion to decide."
Luis Ojeda is a community organizer, trying to help Erika and her family.
"This is someone who deserves to be here, who deserves to stay and that why we are out here fighting for Erika so she can be returned with her family, come back where she belongs," said Ojeda.
Their strategy is to try and organize community support and they are planning to petition Congressman Jim Costa, Senator Kamala Harris, and Senator Diane Feinstein. Otherwise, Erika must stay in Mexico and wait ten years to reapply.
"I guess they just expect me to pick up life after not being here for 20 years. My kids are U.S. citizens my husband is a US citizen I just don't know what they expect from us to do," said Leon.
Erika says her immigration situation may be complicated by the fact she returned briefly to Mexico as a teenager with her mother and then had to sneak back across the border to get home to Fowler.
Her employer, Wells Fargo says they are "aware of this terribly unfortunate situation" and went on to say in a written statement," As such, we believe that young undocumented immigrants brought to America as children should have the opportunity to stay in the United States. Hundreds of Dreamers are employed by Wells Fargo."
Erika has a leave of absence from her job but is afraid the process of getting back into the country will take too long.
Erika says her immigration situation may be complicated by the fact she returned briefly to Mexico as a teenager with her mother and then had to sneak back across the border to get home to Fowler. She admitted that re-entry and believes it may be responsible for the decision to block her return.
If her situation is not resolved she is contemplating moving with the children to Tijuana to be closer to her husband.
Fowler Dream Act recipient stuck in Mexico, denied re-entry into U.S.
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