Jorge Zaldivar Mendieta, a 44-year-old Mexican father of five who lived in the U.S. for the last 23 years, was deported after a long battle to obtain legal status.
Mendieta was held at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Aurora, Colorado for the last two months, according to The Denver Post. He was detained in November after a minor, single-car accident.
His wife, Christina Zaldivar Mendieta, and family claim Mendieta was treated unfairly – often denied food and medical care – while in ICE custody.
Mendieta began the process toward citizenship nearly 15 years ago, racking up hefty attorney fee receipts in what later proved to be a failed attempt to avoid deportation. In August 2018, a GoFundme page he created to raise money detailed his story and struggle.
“I entered this country seeking a better life for myself as well as to financially support my parents I left in Mexico 20+ years ago,” he wrote. “My U.S citizen wife Christina Zaldivar and I have been struggling for approximately 13 years to legalize my status here in this country to be a permanent resident.”
The fundraiser has remained up for the last two years, during which Christina kept viewers updated throughout Mendieta’s detention in the for-profit facility. In her latest post, just three days before he was forced back to a country he no longer recognizes, she referenced her husband’s unnecessary detention while under review as a “power game” ICE plays.
“In all honesty, our children and I would rather him be sent out asap then for him to be subjected to further abuse by this facility and its employees with the grotesque approval by our government … Being forced into becoming a single mother of 5 while watching Jorge and our children suffer this forced [separation] surpasses my opinion of being failed by my own government,” she wrote.
Distraught by the way things unfolded in the last few months, Christina describes herself as a 40-year-old widow with a “living, perfectly healthy husband.”
“It’s because of love,” she said earlier this year of the costly attempt to help her husband obtain legal status. “But it’s also a battle of integrity, a battle for my rights, a battle to prove I’m worth everything this country stands for.”