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Immigrant rights activist likely to be deported herself after hiding her status

  • Giovani Jimenez, Lucia, and Wendy Uruchi Contreras (Photo courtesy Casa)

    Giovani Jimenez, Lucia, and Wendy Uruchi Contreras (Photo courtesy Casa)  (Photo courtesy Casa)

  • Giovani Jimenez, Lucia, Alex, Wendy Uruchi Contreras (Photo courtesy Casa)

    Giovani Jimenez, Lucia, Alex, Wendy Uruchi Contreras (Photo courtesy Casa)  (Photo courtesy Casa)

  • Giovani Jimenez, Lucia, Santa, Alex, Wendy Uruchi Contreras (Photo courtesy Casa)

    Giovani Jimenez, Lucia, Santa, Alex, Wendy Uruchi Contreras (Photo courtesy Casa)

The last thing anyone in the immigrant activist community would have expected was that Wendy Uruchi Contreras would be arrested and potentially deported.

On May 28, the community organizer for Casa, a national immigrants rights organization based in Maryland, was stopped by police and arrested for a DUI after having had two margaritas at a restaurant. Her blood alcohol was twice the legal limit for driving.

Her arrest sent a shockwave through the activist community, with petitions from organizations such as Change.org being filed to stop her deportation. 

Uruchi’s attorney, Enid Gonzalez, told Fox News Latino her team filed for a “stay of removal” with the Department of Homeland Security on Friday.

“Her case is very unusual," Gonzalez said. "Since she came to the U.S. on a visa waiver" – which allows visitors from 38 countries to stay for up to 90 days without a visa – "she automatically waived any possible effort to block removal from the country.”

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Gonzalez added, “Had she come in undocumented, she'd have a strong defense for cancellation for removal, because of her children. She’d meet those requirements.”

The decision on her stay of removal could take a day or six weeks. If immigration authorities recommend granting it, she’ll likely have a year to remain in the U.S., and Gonzalez says immigration officials keep very close tabs on people in those circumstances.

Uruchi didn’t start her career as an activist very long ago. According to the Washington Post, she met some employees from Casa a few years ago at an event at the Salvadoran Embassy, and she began going to events, then organizing them. In 2014, she was hired full-time as a Virginia community organizer.

Uruchi spent the last two years helping undocumented immigrants fight their deportations, without ever revealing her own status.

“Wendy helped me so much,” Liliana Mendez told the Post. Mendez, 26, was about to be deported back to El Salvador because of a traffic accident when she came into Casa wearing an ankle monitor and looking for help. Uruchi organized a news conference with a congressman, and, within days, Mendez’s deportation was stayed and the monitor was removed.

Uruchi was born in Bolivia but was raised in Madrid, Spain.

She came to the U.S. to meet her husband Giovani Jimenez, whom she met online. She says that she left Spain because of an intensely abusive relationship.

She and Jimenez were married and now have two children, Lucia, 7,  and Alex, 13.

"It's been very difficult," Jimenez told Fox News Latino via e-mail. "The kids are seeing a counselor in order to deal with this process. It’s been very difficult for Alex particularly, because he now has insomnia. He wakes up in the middle of the night to see I'm still at home. He seems to be afraid of losing his other parent." 

The choice to drive away from that restaurant in Woodbridge, Maryland, Uruchi acknowledged to the Post, “was the worst decision of my life.”

When she and her husband appeared in court, their DUI attorney encouraged her to take a deal with the prosecutor – one day in jail if she pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor. Then she told the attorney she was undocumented. He told her not to worry.

Two days later, on July 7, she was sent to “Prosperity,” the Homeland Security complex named after the avenue on which it sits.

U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials grilled her about her husband’s citizenship status. She confessed that he, too, is undocumented.

Jimenez says Alex does not want to move to Spain if his mother is deported. "He does not want to leave his friends, family or his entire life. There is no plan in case Wendy is deported." 

Rebekah Sager is a writer and editor for FoxNews.com. She can be reached at rebekah.sager@foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebekah_sager.