Deported Oakland nurse returns to U.S. in time for the holidays

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- When many people think of a holiday welcome home at the airport, a couple pictures will usually mark the moment just fine.

However, Saturday night, Maria Mendoza-Sanchez got a full press conference.

"There were many days I was ready to give up," Maria said.

When Maria and her husband were deported to Mexico last year, they brought their young son with them, and left their other children behind in Oakland.

At the time, ICE said that the courts consistently held that neither Maria nor her husband had a legal basis to stay in the U.S.

The couple had been in the U.S. for more than two decades. Maria got a bachelor's degree, was working as an oncology nurse at Highland Hospital, and paid taxes as well.

Maria's American dream was thrown off the rails 15 months ago, despite the efforts of members of congress and colleagues.

"It hurt when I graduated that they weren't there," Melin Sanchez, Maria's daughter said. "All my friends were celebrating with their families."

"All my life my mom supported me and took care of me and I was going to make damn sure I took care of her kids while she wasn't here," Vianney Sanchez, Maria's oldest daughter said.

An employment based Visa, H-1B was Maria's ticket home. Alameda Health System sponsored it.

Maria's visa was selected in a lottery. Her husband wasn't eligible.

RELATED: 'A nightmare': Family bids goodbye as undocumented father of 2 is deported

"I was trying to go Canada and I was like, 'I haven't done anything and there has to be a way there has to be something for somebody like me,'" Maria said.

Maria's story has become a face case for national immigration issues.

"Despite Trump's unfair, inhumane, cruel separation of this beautiful family, Maria didn't give up," Camiel Becker, Maria's immigration attorney, said

Maria will be spending the holidays with her children and will work with Alameda Health System to determine when she will return to work.

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