dearly@mercurynews.com

SAN JOSE -- Less than 48 hours after Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, submitted a "private bill" to help a woman who has been stranded in Mexico for three years and separated from her three Bay Area children, immigration authorities deported the woman.

"She called me this morning," said a glum David Gonzalez, her 19-year-old son, who is a San Jose State engineering student. "She told me they had already sent her to Tijuana, and she was very upset."

David, his sister Amelia, 18, and their brother Jose, 12, who live in Richmond, had pinned slim hopes on Lofgren's bill, introduced Monday, passing Congress. It called for Antonia Aguilar to be released from a San Diego deportation detention facility and be granted legal, permanent residency.

A picture of Antonia Aguilar is seen in San Pablo, Calif., on Thursday, March 13, 2014. The picture was from her daughter Amelia Gonzalez’s communion
A picture of Antonia Aguilar is seen in San Pablo, Calif., on Thursday, March 13, 2014. The picture was from her daughter Amelia Gonzalez's communion six years ago. Her mom Antonia Aguilar traveled to Mexico to visit a sick relative three years ago and was detained and not allowed back into the U.S. Amelia lives with their dad Jose Gonzalez and her brother Jose Gonzalez, 12. Their brother David Gonzalez attends San Jose State University. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) (JANE TYSKA)

But Aguilar's children thought the bill would at least buy their mother some more time inside the Otay Mesa border crossing facility. So Wednesday's long-distance call from Mexico was a shock to David, who had worked with student groups and personally with Lofgren to hatch the strategic, political move.

Aguilar lived in the U.S. for 11 years with her children until three years ago, when she returned to Mexico to pay a final visit her dying father. She attempted -- six times -- to return and rejoin her kids, but she never made it back to the Bay Area.

In early March, Aguilar was part of a campaign called "Bring Them Home," where hundreds of Mexicans applied for asylum after illegally crossing the border. However, immigration judges determined that she did not meet the legal requirements for asylum.


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"We don't yet have anything planned in the way of a next move," Gonzalez said. "We'll probably figure out something and keep trying. We'll see."