A nurse who was deported to Mexico has won her improbable fight to return to her four children and job in California after winning a ticket in a visa lottery.
Maria Mendoza-Sanchez told the San Francisco Chronicle she learned Friday her visa had been approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
"This is amazing," she said. "I could barely believe it."
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Mendoza-Sanchez, 47, and her husband were deported to Mexico last year amid the Trump administration's crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
Her case drew support from political leaders and her colleagues at Highland Hospital in Oakland held a rally protesting her deportation.
The hospital petitioned for her to get an H-1B visa, arguing her experience caring for cancer patients qualifies her as a high-skilled worker.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she was pleased Mendoza-Sanchez was granted the visa, given the nurse's contributions to her community and the importance of reuniting her family.
"This is the kind of common sense and compassion our immigration system desperately needs more of," Feinstein said.
Mendoza-Sanchez entered the country in 1994 without a visa to join her husband. She obtained work permits in the early 2000s, studied and worked her way up to become an oncology nurse.
The couple had been trying to obtain legal status since 2002, but their request was denied and in 2013 an immigration judge ordered them deported. President Barack Obama's administration, however, granted them two one-year stays, then adopted rules that focused on deporting criminals and allowed the couple to remain in the U.S.
The rules required them to renew their work permits every six months. But last year, they were forced to return to Mexico under the Trump administration's immigration policy.
"It's been a very tough year, the first year we were not together," Mendoza-Sanchez said about being away from her children.
She said she plans to go back to work at the hospital and try to obtain a visa for her husband.