Our story this month highlights the stresses that deportation creates for new parents who welcomed their child together and must now face the challenges of separation.
Like many immigrants, Alfonso came to the U.S. in his late twenties, looking for work and a better life. After getting a job in construction and establishing roots in his Salt Lake City community, Alfonso met Angela, his future wife and a U.S. citizen. The couple settled down together in Utah and welcomed their first child soon after. As their relationship grew and transformed with the birth of their child, Alfonso worked hard to support his family while Angela stayed home to care for their infant son. Then, some years later in 2013, Alfonso was arrested and deported from the U.S.
With Alfonso gone, Angela relied on her siblings for help with financial support, taking jobs as she could while raising her son. Alfonso, desperately wanting to be with Angela and their child, made his way back to Utah to reunite with them. Ever since Alfonso was detained and unable to work during his deportation process, the couple had scrambled for money, and now they moved in with Angela’s brother. Though the couple was grateful for a place to stay, Alfonso wanted to work once more, to support his family and get a place of their own. But another obstacle arose when Alfonso and his brother-in-law were pulled over for a traffic violation while running errands. Though Alfonso wasn’t driving, he was found with a false social security card and taken into police custody. After spending seven months in detention far away from his family, Alfonso was again deported to Nogales in November 2017, and found his way to the comedor where the KBI provided him with meals, clothing, and medical attention.
While her brother took care of their son, now 11 years old, Angela travelled south to Nogales to be with her husband just days after Alfonso was deported. In Mexico, the couple has been living on a mere $45 dollars per week, and Angela is pregnant with their second child. As a U.S. citizen, Angela can return to the U.S. whenever she pleases, but she wishes to stay with her husband wherever he is. It is yet another illustration of the burdens placed on mixed-status families by an immigration system that does not prioritize human dignity and family unity, and the impossible and heartbreaking choices they face.
The couple are still considering their options and contemplating their plans for the future, but both agree: “Nogales doesn’t feel like home.”