A woman whose case drew national attention last year when immigration officials tore her from her children and her job as a nurse in Oakland and deported her to Mexico has a chance to beat the odds and return to the Bay Area, thanks to a lottery drawing and a recommendation from a U.S. consular officer.

By Bob Egelko

The final decision, though, is in the hands of a Trump administration immigration agency. The agency made a preliminary decision in the woman’s favor last month, but the administration has taken a hard line on undocumented immigrants.

The woman, Maria Mendoza-Sanchez, has “become Exhibit A in the California-vs.-Trump immigration front lines,” said her immigration lawyer, Camiel Becker of Oakland.

Mendoza-Sanchez, whose story has been covered extensively by The Chronicle, had crossed the border in 1994 without a visa to join her husband, who had entered five years earlier. She obtained work permits in the early 2000s, studied nursing at City College of San Francisco and Holy Names University in Oakland, and worked night shifts as a nurse’s assistant to support her family. The training paid off in 2015 when she landed a six-figure job as an oncology nurse at the Highland Hospital trauma center.

The couple had been applying for legal status since 2002, under a law protecting parents whose U.S.-born children would suffer exceptional hardships from their deportation. An immigration judge found them ineligible in 2013 and ordered them deported. But President Barack Obama’s administration granted them two one-year stays, then adopted rules that focused on deporting criminals and allowed the couple to remain in the U.S., renewing their work permits every six months.

That all changed with President Trump’s election. He promptly signed an executive order making virtually every undocumented immigrant a priority for removal. By August 2017, Mendoza-Sanchez and her husband, Eusebio Sanchez, were on a plane for Mexico.

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