A change.org petition set up by the Dream Team has gathered more than 2,300 signatures in support of the family, but it needs thousands more to spur any type of action. An accompanying letter will be sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, as well as state and federal leaders.
The Dream Team is asking the public to get involved in the case, to stop Cañenguez's deportation by calling ICE officials and members of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and advocating for the family.
Gutierrez said Cañenguez and her family don't qualify for deferred action and were denied political asylum and prosecutorial discretion, but have filed an appeal on the latter.
"They are people. This is a family," she said. "Right now they are together. They are together at last. Let's keep it that way."
An older son, Jose, 25, came to America on his own in 2006 to help his mother earn money to send to family in Central America. Cañenguez also gave birth to a son and a daughter while in the U.S., Luisito and Katy, and they would likely stay with their father, Eusebio Granda, a Mexican national who took Cañenguez in when she initially arrived in Utah. The two have lived together for 10 years.
"It's a mix of frustration and desperation because we can't do anything about it," he said Monday. "The last two years we have had to deal with court hearings, people telling us something here, something there. It would be something very different for them to be away from their mother. They're afraid."
Cañenguez now cleans rooms in a hotel in Tremonton and spends her money on legal assistance. Her attorneys, however, have exhausted all available options to keep her and her sons in the country, and have essentially told her there is no more hope.
Mark Alvarez, a Salt Lake City immigration attorney not familiar with the case, said ICE has the ability to prioritize cases based on their level of threat. He believes cases that don't produce any security or criminal threats should be evaluated further.
"It doesn't make sense for the U.S. government to spend thousands of dollars deporting people who are here to do good," he said. "Even if they're here in violation of the law."
Alvarez said people do get caught in the cracks of immigration law.
"It may be that ICE's hands are essentially tied," he said. "Sometimes the circumstances of a case merit lenient treatment that may not be available in the law."
An ICE official would not comment Monday on the case.
"We hope that the people who need to hear this do, and we can stop this together," Granda said. "We're also asking for an opportunity for the kids to go further because they're doing very well."
Contributing: Ben Lockhart, Nkoyo Iyamba
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