Woman Fights To Stay In Columbus Despite Illegal Status

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UPDATED: Friday April 25, 2014 5:25 PM

Three children born in the United States are facing the threat of deportation with their mother back to Mexico. 

Now, she's pleading with the government to let her stay in the only country her children have ever known.

10TV’s Maureen Kocot met 7-year-old Arriana this morning.  She is bright, well spoken, and very aware that her family is in serious trouble.

“I don't think too much because I feel something at my throat,” she says.

Maria Esmerelda Cornejo met with reporters and admitted she entered the U.S. illegally 14-years ago.  She says without money, she had no other options.  “When you don't have money, when you don't have nothing, it's very, very hard to do it right.”

Cornejo's attorney argues there are clear immigration guidelines which indicate Cornejo - who's never been in trouble with the law - is not a high priority candidate for deportation. 

Her attorney says, “Deporting her, deporting these children, does not make the border safer.”

Cornejo has asked Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for something called a "stay of removal.”  That means she wouldn't have to return to a country where she says she fears for her children's safety. 

So far, the government has denied her request.

“It's like a dream all the time.  I don't live.  It's very hard.  Very hard for me,” Cornejo says.

Cornejo has already purchased four plane tickets for a one way trip to Mexico; a country foreign to her three children who tell anyone who asks that their home is Columbus, Ohio.

This morning, ICE granted the family a temporary reprieve, which allows the children to finish the school year and orders the mother to return to Mexico on June 30th.

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