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NYC mom reunited with kids after 4-month immigration detention

For undocumented immigrants, being held in a federal immigration detention center is the stuff of nightmares. In many cases, the immigrant's family members are kept in a state of frightening uncertainty until federal authorities decide what to do next.

That was the case for one Brooklyn woman whose young children had to be cared for by their elderly grandfather after the mother was taken into custody as part of an immigration sting. The mother was an immigration detainee for four months while her family struggled to keep their lives on track.

The 32-year-old woman left her native China in 2000 after being forced to have an abortion. When she came to the United States, she fought for permanent asylum but was denied. Apparently unwilling to return to China, she settled down in Brooklyn.

Four months ago, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time when she went on a trip with some friends to Virginia. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were waiting, and they took into custody 24 people who were allegedly conspiring to buy fake green cards. The woman claims she had no intention of buying a phony card.

Still, authorities detained her for four months. She said the conditions at the detention center gave her a bad cold and made her itch constantly.

Finally, after being released in October, the mother was reunited with her 10-year-old son and infant daughter. As a condition of her release, the woman has to wear an ankle bracelet that allows federal agents to track her whereabouts. Since her children were born in the United States, Immigration and Customs Enforcement may not force her to leave. But she will still need legal assistance in obtaining a green card as quickly as possible.

Source: New York Daily News, "Brooklyn family joyously reunites after mother was locked up for four months in immigration," Mark Morales, Kerry Wills and Larry McShane, Oct. 13, 2012

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