FARMERS BRANCH -- Inside a Farmers Branch apartment, markings on a wall prove just how quickly children grow.
There's a line for Ashly, a few years ago. Below that a line for Ramses, and under that, a line for Axel. All three children are now much taller than when the markings started.
Not far from the markings, Ramses, now four, and Axel, now two, share a bed and watch a movie about a superhero. It's entertaining to kids with super-complicated conditions.
"I don't know how to explain it, but I'm very concerned for my sons," said their mother, Erica Dominguez in broken English.
Ramses has a heart condition and a throat defect. He was, at one time, on the heart transplant list at Children's Medical Center. He can't swallow whole foods. He has treatments and doctors appointments every three months, at least, Erica said. Axel was born with water on his brain. The effects of that are not completely known.
Erica came to the United States from Mexico, and then gave birth to three children. The oldest child, Ashly, is now 8.
In 2010, Erica was caught shoplifting $60 worth of merchandise from a Macy's. She plead guilty and completed her probation.
"It's something dumb that I did," she said through a translator.
She has now been ordered to leave the country.
"I don't want to go back to Mexico," she said. "I want to stay here for [my sons'] treatment."
Erica has been told she can take her children with her, or leave them here with their father, who works two jobs.
"I don't want them to suffer for the mistake I made," she said.
Erica appealed the deportation order, providing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with stacks of medical records, including a letter from a pediatrician stating it is in Ramses' best interest for his mother to remain in Dallas. She also gave them a letter from a Children's Medical Center social worker saying he was at risk of "serious health complications including sudden death" if he left the city.
ICE said a child's health is something agents consider when determining whether someone should be deported.
Advocate Ralph Isenberg, who runs the Isenberg Center for Immigration Empowerment, is working on her case. One appeal has been denied. But now he and Erica's attorney are asking for a year's stay on the deportation.
"We're simply asking that the woman not be deported," he said. "She made an error in 2010, and she's paid for that error."
"In the case of extreme family separation, you are permitted to parole or allow people in the U.S.," he said. "And this is clearly a case of extreme family separation."
Erica said if she's forced to leave the country, she will leave her children in Texas.
"My kids need to stay here to grow and get better," she said. "Why do they have to suffer for my mistake?"