HOUSTON (CN) - A Mexican woman being held in a Houston immigration jail despite agreeing to return to the country she left with her parents as an infant won a small victory Monday when a federal judge said she should get a bond hearing to lobby for her release.
Jessica Farfan Angel, 34, is a legal permanent resident and single mother of a 16-year-old son. Her family says she changed her life after pleading guilty to misdemeanor attempted possession of less than one gram of cocaine in 2006 and serving a month in Harris County Jail in Houston.
"She's a great mom. She is mom and dad. That's the only person I have. She would go to work for me to get me this and that, work Saturdays for me, do anything for me," her son Junior Martinez said Monday afternoon after her hearing at the federal courthouse in downtown Houston.
Martinez said his mother, who works in the medical field in billing and as a surgical assistant, had picked up a second job and was looking forward to starting it the next day when immigration agents detained her at Bush Intercontinental Airport on a Sunday in February, while mother and son were returning from a short trip to Mexico.
Farfan's case exemplifies how, under President Donald Trump's harsh immigration policies, minor crimes that people were convicted of years ago are coming back to haunt them, even when they are legal permanent residents, also known as green-card holders.
"She's like any other person. She's not a criminal. She did something a long time ago and ever since then she's gotten her life together and didn't go back to any trouble with the law," her sister Nancy Farfan said at the courthouse.
Nancy, 30, said there "was like nothing pretty much" in the small baggie that police found in the pocket of her sister's jeans in 2006 that tested positive for trace amounts of cocaine.
"It was a bag with resin," said Martinez, a quiet, fresh-faced teen with the deep voice of a full-grown man.
Nancy said that before Trump took office, Farfan traveled to Mexico a couple times and went on some cruises out of the country, and "never had any issues" getting back into the United States. Farfan has lived in the United States since she was 1 year old.
But shortly after his inauguration, Trump made good on the anti-immigrant rhetoric that propelled his presidential campaign. He signed an executive order on Jan. 27 that briefly banned people traveling from seven countries from entering the country before courts blocked it.
Though no Latin American countries were on the list, numerous media reports said Latino green-card holders were also detained by immigration authorities at U.S. airports in the days after Trump signed the order.
Nancy said the confusion about how the government was enforcing the ban did give her sister pause before she went to Mexico.
"She was a little nervous just because of what they were saying in the news. Everybody was pretty much being detained and she didn't know what would come up," Nancy said.