Teen Fights for Her Father's Release from Immigration Detention as He Struggles with a Health Condition

As she steps up to the podium, 17-year-old Ana Cobos Lugo has to take a few deep breaths while she tries to control the tears.

She and her mom, Norma, are there to start a campaign on behalf of Ana's father, Felipe. He's been held at Eloy Detention Center, where his progressive skin infection has gotten worse every day.

Felipe was arrested in February 2014. His intention was to report a crime, but law enforcement had him apprehended because he is undocumented, and had a previous deportation in his record. He spent a few months at a Pima County jail, briefly left, and when he was supposed to sign his probation, he was sent to Eloy.

Although the family's economic situation is a big concern (Felipe supported his family working as a landscaper), they are mostly worried about Felipe's health. He is recovering from a surgery that took place about two weeks ago. 

"When the surgery was over, they took him back, he was still semi-unconscious from the anesthesia," Norma says in Spanish, sitting down in Southside Presbyterians Church's worship room. A press conference was supposed to take place a few minutes later. The surgeon wanted Felipe to stay at the hospital for at least four days. 

Norma said he's gotten pain medication on and off, and that, sometimes, it'll be days before someone changes the gauze protecting the wound on his lower back. He's had to remain in his cell, instead of the infirmary.

"Every weekend we visit him, and we see how much this has affected him, psychologically, physically..." Norma says.

Watching Ana plead for her father was painful. The entire time she tried to read her notes, she couldn't stop crying. 

"As of today, it has been one year, one month and eight days since they took my father away, I miss him very much. One of my younger siblings just turned nine and my dad has not been able to be present," she said. "(I miss him) waking me up yelling, 'Cecilia, wake up! Ceci do your homework, Ceci come with me to the store, Ceci how was school?'"

(Cecilia is Ana's middle name.)

She said breakfast time was always a rush—dad trying to get to work and the kids getting ready for school. Dinner was their moment. Tasty, home-made Mexican food and chatting about what went on that day.

"Release him to us, we want our dad," she said. "We don't just want him back, we need him back. It breaks my heart seeing him cry and cry, seeing how this is affecting him, especially mentally."

He tells her he is sorry he can't be there for them, but that he will be home soon. Everything is uncertain. Felipe's lawyer is looking into a petition to have him released, at least while he appeals his case. 

(The family has a petition going around on the Not One More Deportation website: http://www.notonemoredeportation.com/portfolio/felipecobos/)

"I will not give up until they give us back my dad, no matter what, we will not give up," Ana said. "I will keep fighting until the end. I have a voice...I will be loud, I will not be intimidated by (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) or Homeland Security."