NATIONAL CITY, Calif. -- “I saw it on the news that it happens to so many families and this is what we’re living now,” said Marisol Cervantes about her husband’s deportation.
A few weeks ago, Enrique Cervantes was on his way to a men’s church retreat in Jamul when a Customs and Border Protection officer stopped him after making a wrong turn. Within 24 hours he was deported, according to Cervantes' wife.
“I wish they could’ve given him at least a chance,” she said.
The 46-year-old is a father to five children, including an Army veteran and a 9-year-old with Down syndrome.
He’s also a preacher and serves as counselor to drug addicts at Victory Outreach Church in National City.
“I mean he’s someone who’s making this community a better place,” said Attorney Ginger Jacobs who claims Cervantes should’ve never been deported based on a Department of Homeland Security policy memo sent out late last year. The memo states undocumented immigrants who don’t represent a threat to national security are not a priority for deportation and should be granted prosecutorial discretion.
“They clearly didn’t get the memo,” said Jacobs.
She also claims CBP officers failed to give Cervantes the right to call an attorney.
Cervantes arrived in San Diego with his parents when he was 11 years old. His wife and five children are all U.S. citizens.
But the man known as a pillar of his community had past run-ins with the law, charged in his early twenties with several misdemeanors for being under the influence, he was deported and illegally re-entered the U.S. back in 1993.
His family claims Cervantes had completely turned his life around.
“Because he went through all that, now he was paying back to the community,” said Cervantes’ wife.
“I am praying for a miracle, because this is my life, my family,” said the now deportee over the phone from Tijuana, where he has no family.
Members of Victory Outreach Church held a prayer vigil Wednesday night to pray for that miracle.
“We are asking CBP to allow him to come back and face a judge. It’s something that’s been done before,” said Jacobs.
FOX 5 reached out to CBP but has not received a response.