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Woman Fighting to Keep Her Family Together While Fighting for Her Life

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COLUSA --

A woman in Colusa is desperately fighting two battles on two fronts -- immigration and health; one for her own life, the other to keep her family together.

Time left has taken on a new meaning for Erica Solorio's family.

"I get sores on my fingers, I can't breathe, and sooner or later I'll have to have a double transplant," Erica said.

She suffers from systemic sclerosis, which is often deadly. Ironically it's her illness that has allowed her husband, Jesus, to rejoin her and their two kids.

Jesus came to the U.S. periodically as a child with his parents.

According to the family's attorney, when Jesus tried to return as an adult, he couldn't get in legally, so in 2002, he came illegally and married Erica.

After a trip home to Mexico, Jesus came back to the U.S. illegally for a second time. He tried to get a spouse visa in 2009, but because of what immigration calls "double entry" -- illegally entering twice -- he was sent back to Mexico.

In 2013 he was allowed back on "humanitarian parole" because of Erica's illness.

"It scares me because every year I have to go back and reapply and ask them again to allow him to stay," Erica said.

"The foreign person trying to get their green card, it's scary to them," said immigration attorney Doug Lehrman.

According to Lehrman, Jesus is stuck. If he goes through the legal path to citizenship, he'll have to stay out of the country for at least 10 years. Erica may not have that long.

"The problem with the system -- it hasn't offered any solution," Lehrman said.

The Solorio family is left with few options.

"It does worry me that he might go back," said 11-year-old Jesus Jr.

If something does happen to Erica, she worries immigration will prevent her husband from being with their children.

"That's probably my biggest fear -- something happening to me prior to him being here legally," Erica said.

Normally, a double-entry status person would not be granted a visa waiver, meaning Jesus would not be allowed to stay in the country if something were to happen to Erica, according to Lehrman.

Because of the family's circumstances, however, Lehrman says there may be an exception --immigration services has been unclear with him thus far.

Erica will have to once again renew her husband's humanitarian parole status in March. There is no guarantee he will be allowed to stay with the family past that point.