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Omak woman facing deportation suddenly freed without reason


TACOMA, Wash. -- A local woman facing deportation back to Mexico has been freed for the time being.

Tara Ammons Cohen, 39, of Omak was released on Friday after spending more than two years in federal detention. No reason was given for her sudden release.

The wife and mother is facing deportation back to Mexico even though she was adopted by American parents as a child.

On paper, Cohen is still Mexican. She was adopted at 4 months old from an orphanage by American parents who apparently did not secure her U.S. citizenship.

"I'm an American," Cohen said during a previous interview. "It may not say so with me not having a green card, but I was adopted by Americans. I'm an American."

Cohen doesn't speak Spanish and isn't familiar with Mexico. She said being deported would pose a serious risk to her safety.

"Where would I go? I would be pretty much considered a migrant woman in Mexico. Sixty seven percent of migrant women are tortured, trafficked, raped," she said.

Being deported would also mean leaving her husband and three children behind.

"Why should these (my) children have to suffer with what their parents didn't do? It's not right," she said.

Cohen said she didn't know about her illegal status until she ran into trouble in 2007. She had too much to drink one night, she said, and accidentally took her neighbor's purse, which was very similar to her own. Cohen was dealing with alcohol abuse at the time, and the purse contained prescription drugs, she said.

"We have similar purses. I walked out of the house with her purse. It was not done on purpose whatsoever. But unfortunately the next morning, I figured out what I had done. I had used her ATM card. I had taken her purse, and instead of doing the right thing, which I should have ... I got rid of the purse. And when the cops showed up at my house, I guess I could've lied and said, 'No, prove it,' I said, 'Yes, I did do it,'" she said.

While serving her sentence of three months and undergoing drug treatment, Cohen told authorities she was trying to sort out her immigration status. The day she walked out of prison, however, immigration officials were waiting to haul her away.

An immigration judge later issued a deportation order for Cohen, stating she has no grounds with which to apply for political asylum, and there is no evidence that Cohen would be tortured or mistreated if returned to Mexico.

Cohen said she has faith in the system, and hopes the immigration judge changes the ruling that right now has her slated to be sent to a place she doesn't call home.

Cohen's husband, Thomas Lee Cohen Jr., has said he will not move to Mexico with his wife, if she loses all appeals, because the place is dangerous for their three children.

2011 Aug 5