A Mexican woman suffering from terminal ovarian cancer is pleading with immigration officials to let her spend her last months alongside her family in a west suburb of Chicago. The 54-year-old patient has said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement previously denied her medical attention while she was in detention.
Gloria Barrera, of Melrose Park, is facing deportation proceedings at a time when doctors have recently diagnosed her with stage 4 ovarian cancer, according to the Chicago Tribune. The severity of her cancer diagnosis means she could have only a few more months to live.
Speaking in Spanish during a press conference late last week, she said that her only wish is to “die with dignity” surrounded by her husband, children, and seven grandchildren, the Daily Mail reported. Her children and grandchildren are all American citizens.
“I’m here asking for clemency and justice only so I could be able to die with my family,”said outside ICE’s office in Chicago, according to the Tribune. “I am the tree of my family and my children are the branches. They give me the strength to continue even though doctors only give me a few months to live.”
Barrera, originally from the Mexican state of Guerrero, has been in the United States since 1984, but had her residency status revoked after she was arrested for shoplifting, according to the Chicago Tribune. Following her arrest, she was deported in 2013 to northern Mexico where she was kidnapped by a human trafficking ring and forced into prostitution, she said.
“I’m afraid of the kidnappers who know the identities of my family and they can harm them. Only here do I feel safe”
She said she was smuggled back into the United States, where she was stopped by immigration officials and placed into custody. Barrera was detained for about a year before being allowed to conditionally bond out and stay with her family in Illinois while she awaits deportation proceedings.
During her year-long detention, Barrera said she informed officials of her abdominal pains and contends her concerns were disregarded. Once back in the Chicago area, she made a medical appointment to check out the sharp, persistent pain in her lower abdomen.
Doctors have given her less than a year to live, and she hopes to spend her last few months alongside her loved ones instead of in Mexico. Barrera worries that if her family members go to Mexico, they’ll become targets for the cartel.
“I’m afraid of being deported and dying alone without my children and my husband,” Barrera said as quoted by the Chicago Tribune.