Governor pardons mother detained by immigration officials

FILE - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe gestures during a news conference at the Capitol, Monday, July 13, 2015, in Richmond, Va. (AP File Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has pardoned a minor driving offense committed years ago by an immigrant mother of two, saying he hopes this will help prevent her deportation by President Donald Trump’s administration.

The case of 30-year-old Liliana Cruz Mendez of Falls Church has become emblematic of tougher immigration policies under Trump.

The advocacy group CASA said Cruz Mendez came to the U.S. from El Salvador a decade ago, and was stopped for a broken taillight in 2013. After receiving two deferrals from deportation in 2014 and 2015, she was arrested this month after going with her lawyer to a check-in appointment at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

McAuliffe released the following statement about the pardoning:

Today I pardoned Liliana Cruz Mendez, a mother of two who lives in Falls Church, for minor driving offenses that may contribute to her deportation. While this pardon will not necessarily ensure that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agrees to return Ms. Mendez to her husband and two children, I hope it will send a clear message that tearing this family apart will not make our Commonwealth or our country safer.

If President Trump and his administration are serious about making our nation safer, they will release Ms. Mendez, focus their immigration enforcement efforts on legitimate threats to our public safety and get behind the comprehensive immigration reform our nation needs.”

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