U.S. Customs have allowed a Mexican man undergoing dialysis back into the country on humanitarian grounds.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement granted parole to Francisco Cortez Lopez, 43, who was removed from the country in November. He has spent the last three weeks in Tijuana.
Cortez lived in Pasadena and worked as a combination plumber-electrician. He has three U.S.-born children with his life partner, Teresa Chavez.
Cortez began receiving dialysis for kidney failure in September, relying on California-based Medi-Cal to cover the treatment. Since his deportation, he has received dialysis in Mexico once.
Immigration officials said a judge issued a voluntary departure order for Cortez in 1998 but he refused to leave the country.
Authorities arrested him last month and offered him an opportunity to be released under an order of supervision so he could complete his treatment and arrange for follow-up care in Mexico. ICE, in a statement, claimed he declined.
But Cortez and his attorney, Meredith Brown, argue that he wasn't given the choice.
"All this time has been very difficult for me," said Cortez. "Every day I feel empty. I go out but I don't know where to go. Only now that they've given me this news I can see clearly."
Immigrant advocates and U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, had asked ICE to let Cortez return to receive his treatment.
The case comes as immigration officials review 300,000 files to determine which deportations should be prioritized in an effort to focus on removing immigrants with criminal records.