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Despite 20 years in U.S., Colorado woman facing deportation

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AURORA, Colo. — You can tell by the family photos that Norma Morales and her sons are close.

“She’s like the stronghold of my family. She’s always there for us,” Hector Morales told us. “She’s the motivator for me and my brother. She gives us peace of mind that everything is alright.”

Hector graduates from Basalt High School in June. He says largely because of his mother’s influence, he received a prestigious scholarship to Duke University.

But his plans are now on hold because his mother is being held at the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Aurora, facing deportation any day.

“If my mother is deported, I’m not sure I could go to Duke and leave my family the way it is,” Hector says.

Norma Morales came to the United States more than 20 years ago. Hector says he always knew she was not here legally, but never thought this could happen.

In 2008, Norma Morales was arrested when she tried to use a friend’s identification to obtain a Colorado State ID. A federal judge ordered her to leave the country. When she did not, ICE says, technically, she became a fugitive.

Morales’ attorney, Ted Hess, says as a mother, Norma could not leave her sons behind. Taking them to Mexico was also not an option.

“It consists of an Aztec population where 60 percent of the kids don’t go to school and it’s overwhelmed by alcoholism,” said Hess. “It would be absolutely out of the question for Norma or any mother in her right mind to even think about taking her kids back.”

Supporters say Morales has always been an outstanding and upstanding member of the Basalt community. Her lawyer says her case qualifies as one in which ICE could use its discretion and allow her to stay.

He expects a final decision early next week.

Meanwhile, the case has gained some national attention and supporters are asking President Obama to stop any deportation.