WASHINGTON — Eight-year-old Ashton Rochester has held on to one wish for nearly half his young life, and he shared that wish in a video message with the hope of it reaching policymakers.
“I wish for my mom to come home,” said Ashton. “Please help my mommy come home, President Biden.”
His mom Cecilia Gonzalez-Carmona self-deported to Mexico in 2018 because she had been living in Roswell, Georgia as an undocumented immigrant and the Trump administration’s policies no longer allowed her to stay.
The family thought she could apply for citizenship and return within about a year, but they later learned the law banned her for a minimum of ten years before she could even try to go through the process for re-entry into the U.S.
Ashton’s dad Jason Rochester said shortly after she left, doctors found a tumor on Ashton’s kidney.
Thankfully, the third grader is now in good health, but it’s been a tough journey without his mother by his side as he battled cancer.
“I’m trying everything I can to get my wife home,” said Jason Rochester. “[Ashton] has questions sometimes obviously but it’s been half of his life almost. It’s normal to him which is to me the sad part of the story.”
We first told you about Rochester’s story last year when he came to Capitol Hill shortly before the start of the pandemic to urge lawmakers to reform immigration laws to help bring his wife home.
“We’re just letting them know that we need a change,” Rochester said in February 2020.
Now Rochester is pushing for the passage of H.R. 2920, the “American Families United Act.”
According to the legislation, the “bill authorizes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the Department of Justice (DOJ) to exercise discretion in certain immigration cases. The bill also removes certain requirements related to birthright citizenship.”
The proposal has more than 30 co-sponsors in the House and all but one are Democrats.
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Rep. Nikema Williams (D-GA) is one of the co-sponsors of the legislation and in a statement said: “Our immigration system is broken and fixing it should not be a partisan issue. I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of the American Families United Act to keep Georgia families, like the Rochester-Gonzalez-Carmona family, together. The American Families United Act, along with the US Citizenship Act, the American Dream and Promise Act, and other legislative solutions will build toward comprehensive immigration reform. I will continue to do all I can to lend my support to passing commonsense legislation that will provide long overdue systemic fixes to our immigration system.”
But for Rochester, frustration is mounting because the proposal seems at a standstill on Capitol Hill.
So far, it has only been introduced in the House and not in the Senate, and getting Republican support could prove to be challenging.
When Gonzalez-Carmona left in 2018, the Trump administration defended its immigration policies saying they restored law and order.
Rochester said he has been reaching out to his local U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators about H.R. 2920.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) said: “Our office remains in contact with Mr. Rochester to try to offer assistance to his family. Due to the nature of confidential casework, we cannot offer any other updates at this time.”
Rochester argues the bill can help families of undocumented immigrants who haven’t gotten into any other legal trouble and he’s hoping to see it get bipartisan support.
“We’re not asking for any extra treatment, special treatment,” said Rochester. “We’re just asking them to consider us when they’re making their policies.”
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