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Michigan mom deported to Albania, didn't get to say goodbye to family


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A Michigan mother with no criminal record was deported to Albania without being offered the opportunity to say goodbye to her three children or husband, family members say.

While a spokesperson for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said ICE notified family members of Cile Precetaj's impending departure and told family members to pack her bags 10 days ago, her husband said that he did not learn that his wife was deported until 4 a.m. Thursday, when she called him from Germany telling him that she was en route to Albania with two ICE agents.

“My kids are devastated. They can’t stop crying,” Pete Gojcaj told the Free Press Thursday morning. “My children are traumatized. ...

"They got on the bus crying," he said, noting he sent them to school to keep things as normal as possible. "They said, 'This is not the government they teach us about in school.' "

ICE spokesman Khallid Walls said Thursday that the family was notified "several days in advance of her impending departure" and that they turned in her luggage and other personal belongings. 

But the family maintains they were never given a deportation date, nor any definitive information about if or when she might be deported. All that happened, the husband said, was 10 days ago he got a call from ICE telling him to pack his wife's suitcase and bring it to Detroit's ICE headquarters.

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Pete Gojcaj said he did as instructed — his children helped pack the suitcase — but they had no idea what was coming or when. His wife called him periodically from Calhoun County, where she was jailed during her legal fight against deportation, with no updates. He and the kids waited and prayed, he said, hoping for a miracle.

On 4 a.m. Thursday, the phone call from Germany cleared up any confusion. Mom was gone.

Gojcaj would eventually learn from his wife that five ICE agents picked her up at the Calhoun County jail on Wednesday, shackled her and took her to Detroit to prepare her for removal from the U.S. Two ICE agents, he said, went with her. His wife told him that the ICE agents warned her not to make a fuss or they would put her in restraints.

The family is in shock, and reeling. 

Cile Precetaj, an Albanian immigrant, was one of more than a dozen mothers locked up at the Calhoun County jail awaiting deportation. All have American-born children. 

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