El Paso, Texas (AP) - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are allowing an immigrant mother facing deportation to Mexico to stay in the U.S. for another six months while her daughter is treated for cancer at a Texas children's hospital.
ICE officials told The El Paso Times that this is the third permit they've granted Maria Elena de Loera in the past two years.
"I'm happy because I'm going to be able to stay with my daughter," she said.
De Loera sought asylum in the U.S. in 2014, after her husband was killed in Mexico. Her daughter, Alia, had been diagnosed with bone cancer by the time immigration officials denied her asylum request in 2015.
De Loera's requests for a temporary stay of removal in 2015 and 2016 were granted, but her request this year initially was denied.
Her attorney, Linda Rivas, said the initial denial may be an indication of a change in approach under President Donald Trump's administration.
"This really indicated a shift in the new administration and their goals and policies because, in the past, we have not seen them deny this petition and now they did," Rivas said. "That, to us, is easy to speculate that the new leadership was the reason that this had to be so hard fought."
Rivas and local religious leaders met with ICE officials this week to request the deportation delay.
It's unclear what will happen once the six-month period is over, Rivas said.
"The fact that this was denied the first time and so hard fought, to actually get an approval, I think ICE is sending a clear message," Rivas said. "This may be very difficult to repeat."
Alia has undergone almost 10 surgeries since being diagnosed. She was briefly in remission in February, but tumors were found in her lungs later.
"It feels good to know that my mom is going to stay," Alia said.