When Tucsonan Arsenio de la Rosa’s health deteriorated, he stopped visiting his wife across the border in Nogales, Sonora — as he had done every other weekend for years — while the couple waited out her decade-long ban from returning to the United States.
But on Friday, a few hours after the U.S. government reversed its position and gave Gloria Arellano a 30-day permit to travel to Tucson, she was by his bedside, telling him she was there for him now.
“I came to take care of you,” she said, as she took his frail hand. “So you can get strong and we can walk back home.”
Arsenio de la Rosa, 85, has been given a few weeks to live after he was hospitalized on Aug. 6 and suffered a stroke.
Customs and Border Protection initially denied the family’s request Tuesday to allow his wife to visit, citing her prior denial for a permanent residency card and subsequent 10-year ban for being in the U.S. illegally.
But after public outcry — which included a news conference held by U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva and an online petition that amassed nearly 16,000 signatures — additional documentation and support, the federal agency approved the pass on humanitarian grounds.
On Friday, Arellano showed up to the port of entry again, but this time accompanied by immigration attorney Mo Goldman, who assumed responsibility for taking her back to the port once her permit ends. After roughly an hour, they emerged with a thumbs up.
CBP officials said they cannot comment on individual cases.
Outside the DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, Arellano thanked the government and everyone else who supported her family. She said she had wanted to come see her husband one last time, to comfort her children and “be a pillar on which they could lean.”
This decision means “the world” to his family, said Bill de la Rosa, one of the couple’s four children who mobilized after his mother’s first denial.
“I was in complete disbelief when I found out,” Friday morning that the government would approve the humanitarian pass. “I immediately started imagining her on this side, in her old home, and us as a family,” added the 24-year old Oxford University graduate student, who traveled home to Tucson from England last week.