Teenager battles leukemia alone at Duke University Hospital because border agents will not allow mother to visit

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- NOTE: This story was published on Aug. 26, 2019.

A young teenager is battling leukemia in the Triangle, but she's doing it without her mother by her side.

UPDATE TO THIS STORY: Mother of teen battling leukemia at Duke Hospital granted temporary waiver to come to US

Her mother is stuck in Mexico and cannot get into the country.

HOW TO HELP:
Flowers and cards can be sent to: Good Shepard United Church of Christ at 1050 NW Maynard Road Cary, NC 27513.

Ixcell Sandoval Perez is 14 years old. She was living in Chiapas, Mexico, when she was diagnosed.



Her mother traveled to the U.S. border at San Ysidro and was planning to take her to Raleigh, where Ixcell was born, so she could receive medical treatment.

But when they arrived at the border in Tijuana, Mexico, they were denied entry into the United States.

"They took everything away from us," said Ixcell's mother, Dalia, in a video produced by Solidarity Now, a group that advocates for the protection of human rights on the U.S. southern border. "They took us into a room. In the afternoon, they left us in a cold room but it was so cold and my daughter was feeling so sick. I pounded on the door and shouted for them to open it, but no. My child was so thirsty but no one would listen to me."

According to advocates, a relative living in the United States eventually came to bring Ixcell across the border. Dalia was not allowed entry, and despite several tries has not been able to visit her sick daughter.

"It's not easy to be here without her," Ixcell said in a video produced from Duke University Hospital where she's being treated. "It's not easy to have her so far away."

Ixcell moved back to Mexico with her mother in 2010 when Dalia's visa expired.

"Here is a 14-year-old in the hospital nearby, near us, over at Duke and she is there without her mother; she is there without either of her parents," said Carla Gregg-Kearns, pastor at Shepherd United Church of Christ in Cary. "How, how could something like this happen?"

Her church is one of several that have stepped up to visit Ixcell in the hospital and advocate on behalf of her mother.

"I just keep thinking that it's unbelievable," Gregg-Kearns said. "I can't believe or imagine what sort of reason there could be for her not being granted permission to come into the country to be with her daughter. Our faith makes it a no-brainer: of course you're going to want to intervene and advocate on behalf of a child like this. We believe that our God is a god of life and desires that life is flourishing for all people."

Congressman David Price has also gotten involved and has written a letter to Customs and Border Protection.

Ixcell's cardiologist has also sent a letter to the authorities.

"Generally, applicants for admission into the United States could qualify for various types of benefits offered by the U.S. government," CBP told ABC11 late Monday evening. "U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is not the only agency that issues paroles and in this case, it could be appropriate for individual to reach out to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and or U.S. State Department."
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