LAS VEGAS — The family of a woman detained by immigration agents during an interview last week in Las Vegas on Thursday called on authorities to release her immediately and alleged she was assaulted when she refused to sign official documents without reading them.

Two sons of Mexican national Cecilia Gomez held a press conference outside the Las Vegas office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, where they said their mother had gone for an interview that she believed was part of the process to obtain her green card. Instead, Ricardo Avelar-Gomez said, she was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“We are mourning right now,” Avelar-Gomez said standing next to his brother Eric as his voice cracked. “We don’t know how to handle the situation. I’m trying to be as strong as I can be… I just want her to come home to us today.”

Gomez, a native of Mexico’s state of Michoacan, is at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona.

Bliss Requa-Trautz, the director of the Las Vegas Worker Center, said Gomez’s eldest son submitted a petition to start the process for her mother to obtain permanent residency when he turned 21, and Gomez attended the interview last week believing it would advance the process. Requa-Trautz said Gomez was unaware that she had a 20-year-old deportation order against her.

“When she reached for documentation, she told the immigration agent ‘I don’t want to sign anything without reading it’ and when she reached for it, the agent pinned her arm behind her back and slammed her into the table,” Requa-Trautz said. “She has bruises along her side.”

Requa-Trautz added that Gomez has repeatedly asked to have the bruises photographed while in detention, but she’s been mocked for it and nobody has assisted her.

ICE’s public affairs office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gomez previously worked at a laundry, but most was most recently a stay-at-home mom. Her boyfriend is currently taking care of Ricardo, 18 and a senior in high school, and Eric, 13 and a seventh-grade student. Gomez’s eldest son attends college in Connecticut.

Requa-Trautz said Gomez by the end of last week was in transit to be deported, but a motion to reopen her case was filed, staying her deportation. She said her family has been told she will eventually be transferred to a jail to Henderson, Nevada, where her sons will be able to see her for the first time since she was detained.

She said the deportation order against her was issued after she was a victim of fraud.

“There’s a part of me missing,” Eric Avelar-Gomez said as he cried. “I’ve never been through this. So, it’s really hard for me and my other brothers.”


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