During the coming year, the KBI will share migrant experiences with you through intimate firsthand stories from people who turned to the KBI for aid and advocacy. Here is Oscar’s story, which highlights the painfulness and price of family separation.
Oscar was brought to the U.S. from Mexico by his parents when he was an infant. He went to schools in California and Arizona, and by the time he was seventeen, was working as a house painter. He had no encounters with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) until then, although the threat of arrest, detainment and deportation loomed large.
When ICE apprehended Oscar on a paint run, his fears came to pass—he was detained, charged, and deported—while his partner Alexis remained in the U.S., awaiting their first child. Oscar managed to rejoin Alexis in time for the birth, but he was eventually deported again, and he is now separated from his family.
Oscar’s account tracks the fears and trauma of having to live in the shadows while trying to raise children who can live in the light. He wrote a letter to President Obama before Christmas in December 2015, and the situation he initially describes—leaving Alexis when she was pregnant—is all the more heartbreaking when recalling the circumstances of the Holy Family as they traveled to Bethlehem for the census, Mary pregnant but Joseph by her side. For undocumented or mixed-status families, this basic source of support at a time of great need is not something they can count on.
Here is Oscar’s story, in his own words, in both video and written form:
My name is Oscar. They took me to the U.S. when I was six months old. I went to school in the U.S. from kindergarten to high school. My life was never stable we always moved between Phoenix and California. Growing up my mom was in Mexico and my dad was an alcoholic. I never had anywhere stable to live. I had to live with friend. I lived in a really unsafe neighborhood and my family became my friends.
I had a job painting houses when I met Alexis. She changed my life. I was seventeen, she became pregnant so I decided to get my life together. I rented an apt for us, I painted the apt and the next day I was going to go pay for electricity so we could have light in the house. That same day I went with my boss to pick up some paint.
On the way, two vans started following us. It was ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]. They asked us if we were legal, we said we were not. They told us that we had to be in our home country and they said they were going to take us in.
Then I did a month in Eloy.
Then they deported me to [Ciudad] Juarez.
I spent six months on the border. I lost the rent on my apt y lost my car and worst of all my girl Alexis was suffering and she was pregnant. I managed to get back. I walked 7 days through the desert and I arrived a day before Alexis went into labor. I went back to working but one day on my way to pick up Alexis the cops tried to pull me over. I tried to get away because I was afraid of being deported again.
I was detained and charged with unlawful flight. I did six months in prison. Then I was deported. All of this time has been really painfull [sic] for my wife and kids. Because I can never be with them.
They suffer because I’m not there they also suffer financially because they have nowhere to live, sometimes they don’t have enough to eat.
All I am asking is to be with my family. I don’t [want] my son to go through what I went through. I want my son to have the love of a father. Without me I’m afraid when he’s older he will be against the law. If I am there I can teach him to do good for his country.
So I am asking and begging you to give me a chance to live in the U.S.
I am sorry I went without papers but I was a baby. It wasn’t my choice.
Thank you for reading my letter, Mr. Obama.
I wish you and your family a Merry Christmass [sic].