A married mother of three who was deported from the U.S. two months ago after 18 years has had an emotional reunion with her children after they arrived in Albania to begin a new life together.
Cile Precetaj broke down in tears when the youngsters arrived after a 5,000-mile overnight flight from their home in Detroit.
Seeing Marash, 16, Megan, 10, and eight-year-old Martina for the first time in almost two months since being forcibly removed by immigration officials was too much for Cile.
‘I was shaking and in tears and just wanted to give them a big hug,’ Cile told DailyMail.com.
‘It was something I had been looking forward to for so long and it felt so nice just to hold them in my arms and be with them. There were lots of tears and we are just so happy to be together once again.
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Mother-of-three Cile Precetaj (pictured) has reunited with her kids Marash (far right) 16, Megan (far left) 10, and Martina (center) eight, in Albania, two months after she was deported
The happy family of five, who had lived a normal American life in Detroit, Michigan for 18 years, were torn apart after Cile was deported in May
‘I know they were happy to see me, but this is all so strange for them and it will take some getting used to.
‘They are in a strange country, do not speak the language and separated from their father, family and friends. It is not going to be easy for them.’
Cile, 46, was deported from Detroit, Michigan after losing a nearly two-decade-long legal battle to stay in the US.
Despite running a successful restaurant business with her husband, paying taxes, and having three children born in the U.S. she was deported having lost a final appeal to stay in the country she calls ‘home.’
Cile had entered the U.S. with a false Italian passport having fled her native Albania in 2000 in fear of her life from gangsters who wanted to force her into prostitution.
Her plea for asylum was rejected and she has waged a $50,000 legal battle to stay in Detroit where she says he she lived as an ‘ordinary American soccer mom’.
Immigration officials didn’t allow her to say farewell to her children having put her into detention center when she arrived for one of her regular checks having had a GPS monitor attached to her ankle.
The first her family knew she had been kicked out of the U.S. came in a tearful telephone call during a stopover in Germany on her way back to a country she left in 2000.
Since her return, Cile admitted she has suffered from depression as she struggled to come to terms with being separated from her family and what the future might hold.
Now, the kids are adjusting to a new life in a foreign, unfamiliar country with their mother as their father remains in the U.S.
Cile says seeing her parents Pashku, 75, and Pashka, 67 (pictured) for the first time since leaving helped her cope with the separation from her husband and kids
Rather than move her family into a vacant home next door to her parents, Cile has chosen to stay in a hotel. Above the children are seen outside their grandparents’ home
A month ago, she and her husband decided the children should re-locate to Albania.
To complicate matters, her husband was unable to leave the U.S. due to his own immigration issues and she was unsure her children would want to leave the comfort of their ranch style home outside of Detroit.
Cile said the prospect of never seeing her children was almost too much to take, and even though it meant uprooting the children to a foreign country, the couple decided it would be best if they lived with their mom.
All their belongings from their home were packed into eight suitcases and they travelled with a cousin as a chaperone on the transatlantic flight.
It meant Marash saying farewell to all his friends in high school and the karate club where he recently became a black belt.
Martina, the youngest, has had to leave her four pet birds, a canary and three finches with her father.
Megan has given up her place at a school for the top academic students in Michigan having excelled a math.
All three said they would miss their father and school friends, and despite being jet lagged were clearly delighted to be with their mom.
Cile told Mail Online:’ I know they have given up everything they know, but I also know that they were missing me and wanted to be with me.
Cile had swapped her home in the affluent Sterling Heights area of Detroit for a modest home (pictured) in the Albania countryside not far from the border with Montenegro
The home Cile was living in did not have running water and the toilet was located in an outhouse
Cile had previously lived in a ranch-style home outside of Detroit
‘After I was deported my husband sold his restaurant so that he could look after the children full time. But they need their mother.
‘I still can’t understand how President Trump would allow mothers to be separated from their children. I have seen what is going on at the U.S. border, but he has done that to me.
‘I consider myself American and America is my home. It is where I want to be and I know my children want to be there. It is so unfair, but I do not have any choice right now. We have got to make the best of it and get my children settled.
‘I am aware that it is going to be a culture shock for them. I will do my best.’
Cile said had she chosen to remain in the shadows like so many illegal immigrants she might still be living in Michigan.
‘I chose to be honest and admit I had entered the country illegally but if I had said nothing and stayed hidden then I might still be there.
‘I think that is very unfair as I wanted to work with the immigration authorities and put right what was wrong.’
Cile had contacted immigration authorities within months of arriving and claimed asylum.
While her case was considered, she met her now-husband Pete Gojcaj and they had their first child in 2002.
Cile (left) arrived to the U.S. in 2000 and contacted immigration authorities within months of claiming asylum. While her case was considered, she met her now-husband Pete Gojcaj (right) and they had their first child in 2002
Cile’s husband Pete Gojcaj (left) a Yugoslav immigrant who has lived in the U.S. since he was five, was unable to leave the U.S. due to his own immigration issues
Cile had entered the U.S. in 2000 with a false Italian passport having fled the country in fear of her life from gangsters who wanted to force her into prostitution
Three years later she was told to leave the country after her application for asylum was rejected when a court failed to be convinced by her claims of living in fear.
Cile appealed against deportation and the immigration authorities allowed her stay while she exhausted all legal ways to remain in the United States.
While pregnant with her daughter Megan she was told she was under supervision and had to report to an immigration office each month.
During this time Cile helped her husband, a Yugoslav immigrant who had lived in the United States since he was five years old, build up a successful restaurant business.
That all came to a shattering end with her deportation at the end of May.
She swapped her home in the affluent Sterling Heights area of Detroit for a basic home in the Albania countryside not far from the border with Montenegro.
Seeing her parents Pashku, 75, and Pashka, 67, for the first time since leaving helped her cope with the separation from her husband and kids.
Rather than move her family into a vacant home next door to her parents, Cile has chosen to stay in a hotel in a nearby town while she gently eases the children into their new life and unfamiliar surroundings.
The home she had been living in has no running water, the toilet is a hole in the ground in an outbuilding and there are frequent power outages.
The village of Gradec is so isolated there isn’t a single shop and the streets have any names.
It is about as far removed from what she and the children are used to as humanly possible.
Cile was ordered to return home in 2013 (pictured) but deliberately missed the deadline
Her plea for asylum was rejected and she has waged a $50,000 legal battle to stay in Detroit where she says he she lived as an ‘ordinary American soccer mom’
One possibility could see Cile and her family move to the capital Tirana after she was contacted by the Tirana based American Bank of Investments.
Executives with the bank had read about Cile’s plight and told her they want to help with the possibility of a job and apartment.
‘I will be talking with them soon, but I am hoping that they will be able to help,’ said Cile.
‘There are many things to consider such as schooling and where is the best place for the children to live.
‘Wherever it is I am determined to make this the best home for my children, but my home and their home is America.
‘I have not given up hope that maybe by some miracle we can go back.’
Until that time Marash admitted that he was ‘excited and nervous’ about what his new life in Albania would be like.
‘I had read that it was a really poor country, but have been surprised that it is much better than I thought,’ he said.
‘I am going to miss my dad, family and friends the most. Some have said they will come out and see me and I know I can go back to visit.
‘It has been really hard being without my mom. When she was deported I was just so angry. I could not believe that my country would do that. I was crying a lot, but then just angry all the time.
‘After my mom went it was a really hard couple of weeks. I really missed her cooking. Dad was great, but mom knows what we like.’
To try and make the transition from the U.S. to Albania as smooth as possible he has brought his XBox and as well as an plug adapter so he can continue to play his favorite games.
‘I know things are going to be very different and part of me is excited, but I am also very nervous,’ he said.
As Megan cuddled up to her mom, she told DailyMail.com that not being able to attend a school for high achievers was her biggest disappointment at leaving her old life behind.
She also thought she might miss her favorite pizzas.
For eight-year-old Martina the thought of not having a McDonalds was the most pressing concern.
‘I will miss my burger and fries,’ she said.
Two cousins that they had never previously met are helping the three kids settle into their new life.
Adea, 16, and Denisa, 15, speak excellent English and said they will do their best to make the American cousins feel at home.
‘It is nice to meet them and I hope they will be happy,’ said Adea.
Should Cile decided to stay in Greca her son would most likely go to the same high school as Denisa – a 20 mile bus ride away.
The prospect of an approximately 40 mile round trip was daunting to Marash.
‘It used to take me 15 minutes to get to my school by bus,’ he said.
Another immediate concern after arriving in the rural village was the lack of air conditioning in any of the homes.
All three children struggled in the searing 90-degree summer heat with the convenience of chilled air that most Americas take for granted set to be a problem.
‘There is no air conditioning anywhere?’ asked Marash as he looked over to his mom.
Cile shook her head and told him: ‘It will be okay. We will be able to cope, you will see.’
As U.S. passport holders the three children will be able to return to Michigan to see their father and friends.
But for Cile the prospect of ever setting foot back on U.S. soil seems unlikely.
So too does an immediate reunion with her husband, as he is not allowed to leave the U.S. while a pending deportation order hangs over his head.
‘I am so happy to be with my children, but want to be with my husband. I love him very much and will not be happy until we are a family again.’ she said.
A spokesman for ICE said Cile had known since June 2005 that she was unlawfully in the U.S. and ordered to leave by a federal immigration judge.
The spokesman said she had been allowed to stay in the U.S. to ‘pursue all of her legal options before being deported.’
After her last appeal was rejected she was subject to removal.
‘ICE no longer exempts classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,’ the ICE spokesman said.
‘All of those in violation of immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removed from the United States.’