Woman deported after hitting jackpot in Tucson casino

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

TUCSON, Ariz. – A woman from Mexico who hit the jackpot in a Tucson casino is feeling anything but lucky. She ended up getting deported!

Mirna Valenzuela and her daughter Zamira Osorio were gambling at the Casino Del Sol resort in Tucson. Valenzuela hit the jackpot on one game, winning a $1,200 jackpot.

But when she showed and Arizona driver's license to claim the prize, she was asked to show a second form of ID. After seeing her Mexican passport, border patrol agents took Valenzuela into custody, and eventually deported her.

"My family and I feel devastated about it,” says her daughter Zamira Osorio. “It's been a situation that we've been through a lot."

Zamira got to stay in the United States,  because she qualifies under President Obama's deferred action program, known as the Dream Act. But her mom is now back in Mexico.

Casino Del Sol’s CEO Wendell Long says the casino did not call border patrol. He says staffers contacted Pascua Yaqui Police to verify Valenzuela’s identification, but does not know how the federal government got involved.

Border Patrol confirmed:  "Agents determined the mother was previously deported from the U.S. in 2008 for illegal entry. Her prior removal order was reinstated and she was returned to Mexico through the Nogales Port of Entry on Dec. 4."

The reservation in Tucson is not legally part of Arizona. The casino gets a lot of business from Hispanic customers on both sides of the border.

Long said the casino would not want to alienate a major part of its customer base. “The thing that I would like to convey is the Sonoran customer is very important to us," says Long.  It's a large part of our business and we do a lot of things to promote that."

The casino says Valenzuela’s winnings are still at the casino, and that she has an indefinite amount of time to claim the prize.