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Family fighting to reunite with self-deported mom meets with lawmakers in DC

For more than six years now, 11-year-old Ashton Rochester has been separated from his mother Cecilia Gonzalez-Carmona.

His dad Jason Rochester has been leading the fight to bring her home.

“I’ll never give up. I can’t give up,” said Rochester.

But it’s been a long and grueling journey.

We’ve told you how the father and son have traveled to Washington, D.C. nearly half a dozen times over the last few years looking for help.

Rochester is a U.S. citizen living in Georgia. His wife was undocumented and self-deported to Mexico in 2018 after getting bad legal advice.

They thought she would have been able to soon apply to legally re-enter the U.S., but that hasn’t been the case.

During that time, Ashton battled and thankfully beat cancer.

“If someone would just look at the situation with an open heart, then maybe they can see,” said Rochester. “Nobody wants to see a child without his mom for more than half of his life now.”

During the latest trip to DC, the Rochesters met with Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) to share their story. Rochester is his constituent as a Georgia resident.

A spokesperson for Warnock’s office said it doesn’t comment on specific constituent cases to protect people’s privacy. But the office did say the Senator has long stated our immigration system is broken and said he supports comprehensive reform.

The Rochesters also attended a briefing with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who is calling on the Biden administration to extend work permits to undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens.

“Our laws are supposed to provide U.S. citizens an opportunity to sponsor their noncitizen family members, but our outdated immigration system includes many categorical bars that prevent spouses from obtaining status,” said Durbin in a statement.

According to the nonprofit group American Families United, there are nearly two million families waiting to be reunited because of spousal immigration denials or deportations.

The organization has been pushing for legislation to give the Justice Department (DOJ) or Department of Homeland Security (DHS) discretion in certain immigration cases with the goal of reuniting families.

It was introduced in the House but went nowhere.

Rochester said he won’t back down until his wife is back home.

“That’s what I tell Ashton. I’ll always do everything I can to bring mommy home and I tell her the same thing. So, I’ll keep fighting as frustrating as it is,” said Rochester.

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