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SALT LAKE CITY — A 36-hour scramble to undo a Draper mother's deportation failed Friday as she awaited a connecting flight from Orlando, Florida, to Colombia.
Betty Ramos Castro was set to return to Bogota, Colombia, after 25 years in the United States. She was holding out hope Friday afternoon while a team of attorneys rushed to secure a legal extension before her 7 p.m. flight.
Federal immigration agents denied the request, her friends said.
A pair of travel delays for Castro on Thursday and Friday allowed her lawyers more time to seek legal approval to stay in Utah, said Carrie Laudie, a member of Mormon Women for Ethical Government, which publicized Ramos' experience.
Sen. Orrin Hatch's office and Colombian officials also rushed to pressure U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement to reverse the deportation.
"It's extremely disappointing," Laudie said. "It's been a roller coaster in a lot of ways because there keeps being a glimmer of hope, and then it gets quashed."
Friends and advocates protested the deportation at Salt Lake City International Airport on Thursday, saying it targeted the caretaker of an 86-year-old mother and 18-year-old son with cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
Supporters say Castro is one of many undocumented Utahns unfairly targeted by stricter immigration action under President Donald Trump. But not everyone agrees. Others maintain that U.S. immigration laws must be enforced in every instance, including for those with disabled family members and without criminal records.
On Thursday, a discrepancy between names on Castro's passport and driver's license delayed her departure from Salt Lake City, providing attorneys more time to fight for a court extension.
But by Thursday evening, Castro's lawyers and friends believed they had run out of time to help her. Then an unexpected stopover Friday in Orlando extended the deadline again.
Castro flew to Florida from Salt Lake City after federal immigration agents Thursday morning ordered her to leave the country immediately. She overstayed a 1991 visa and extensions granted by a judge, ICE officials said.
Friends of Castro previously used the pseudonym Isabel to protect the mother's privacy. Castro decided Friday to come forward with her real name, but did not grant an interview.
America's Voice for Education Fund, an immigration reform group, said the move to deport her was callous.
"Separating a mom from her disabled child — a U.S. citizen — and elderly mother is utterly cruel and un-American,” Lynn Tramonte, America's Voice deputy director, said in a statement.
Castro's friends remain hopeful she can appeal the order while in Colombia and potentially move back to Draper in less than a year.