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Local Cancer Survivor Deported—Even After Support From U.S. Senator

Kerry Klein
Valley Public Radio
Martha Lozano, center, and her son, Jonathan, listen as her attorney, Camille Cook, reads Lozano's deportation order at Cook's office earlier this week. Lozano's appeal was denied, even though her doctors argue she's in need of medical care in the U.S.

Despite California’s status as a sanctuary state, it appears to be the focus of increased immigration activity—especially after a sweep in Northern California earlier this week that drove Oakland’s Mayor to issue a warning to her residents and ultimately resulted in more than 150 arrests. Closer to home, a San Joaquin Valley resident who was recently ordered to leave the country, despite years of being allowed to stay and an appeal from a top lawmaker.

Martha Lozano was notified last month that she had until March 1 to leave the United States for her native Mexico, after an appeal to her deportation order was denied. She says her biggest concern is her three sons, all U.S. citizens, living in Modesto.

Her other big concern is illness. Lozano is in remission from thyroid and breast cancer. Her deportation order goes against the judgment of a doctor in Modesto who argues she needs regular doctor’s appointments—one of which was scheduled for next month.

Speaking in Spanish through her 25-year-old son, Jonathan, Lozano says she’s worried about finding care in Mexico, and accessing the many medications she’s currently taking. "She says she can’t really be days without taking her medicine," he says. "How’s she going to be out there stopped for maybe months or maybe years?"

Another unusual hallmark of Lozano’s case is that immigration authorities have known about her for over a decade. After moving to the United States in 1989 without proper documentation, she was originally ordered deported in 2003, but every year since she’s been granted a stay of deportation - even during her first few years in remission. Lozano has no criminal record.

In a last-ditch effort to keep Lozano in the country, her attorney in Fresno, Camille Cook, asked U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein to appeal to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. She did, and in the words of Cook,  ICE, “will not budge.” ICE did not respond to a request for comment.

Cook says Lozano’s deportation follows a trend in which ICE is increasingly deporting people it had permitted to stay in the past. "I think this case is a perfect example of that with the exception that it seems to be one of the most tragic ones," she says. "She has absolutely no criminal record and it’s only because her health is somewhat improved that they’ve now decided that time’s up."

Cook says Lozano’s bus left early on Thursday morning. Her husband was deported in 2009. Lozano’s two adult sons will together take care of her youngest son, a 14-year-old in junior high.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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