A young woman raised in North Texas now faces deportation to the same city in Mexico where an American immigration agent was murdered.
Twenty-year-old Olga Zanella was brought to the country illegally by her parents when she was a young child.
“I was a baby when I came over here. I was 6 years old,” she said.
She graduated from an Irving high school and has been taking classes to become a dental hygienist.
Zanella does not have a criminal record, but started having trouble with the Department of Homeland Security in February 2009 after being pulled over for a traffic violation.
“That’s when they asked me to get off and that’s when they handcuffed me,” Zanella said.
She was arrested for driving without a license. She admits she never tried to get a Texas driver’s license because she was undocumented.
Zanella spent three days in an Irving jail cell before police turned her over to immigration authorities. They released her on bond and she went back home.
“That was the first time I saw my dad cry,” she said.
Zanella admits that before her arrest neither she nor her parents tried to become legal residents of the United States. But for the past two years, she’s been trying to do what is needed to remain in the country.
She’s gone through a series of court hearings and legal problems. She has exhausted her appeals, and now she faces an uncertain future.
Zanella would be deported to San Luis Potosi, a Mexican city with a violent reputation following the death of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata at the hands of the drug cartel members. She will live with distant relatives she’s never met.
“Right now, if Olga is not helped the alternative is her parents will see her come back to the United States in a body bag because she is not going to make it in Mexico,” said Ralph Isenberg, an activist who is helping Zanella through the murky waters of immigration law.
Isenberg has appealed to the Department of Homeland Security in Washington D.C. and filed a complaint against the director of ICE in Dallas.
The Department of Homeland Security did not return phone calls.
The local ICE office confirmed that a federal immigration judge initially issued deportation orders for Zanella. A spokesman also said Dallas ICE field office director has the authority to stop the deportation process, but that is not appropriate in this case.
Zanella is waiting in fear of the day when she will have to leave her family.
“I’ve never been apart from them," she said. "We’ve always been a close family.”
Adapted for Web by Tracy DeLatte | myFOXdfw.com