By: Roxane Ramos
Each year, 600,000 to 800,000 undocumented migrants are deported. Though their reasons for crossing center around reuniting with their families and seeking better lives, each story is unique. Here are some—the names are changed to protect privacy, but the facts are unaltered.
Yolanda grew up in Oaxaca, Mexico and when she was 14, her parents sold her to an abusive older man who migrated with her to Mesa, AZ. She’d had four daughters with this man when he left her. Her next relationship was also abusive, and that boyfriend accused her of domestic abuse when he sustained an injury elsewhere. Having no documentation or adequate legal representation, Yolanda served time in a Maricopa jail and a detention center before being deported back to Mexico; Child Protective Services took her children away and they now reside with a foster family who maintain contact with Yolanda. The KBI has helped Yolanda, now 35, with letter-writing to the family, soliciting donations on a Nogales radio program, finding an apartment, and helping her meet terms for reunification with her children. The hope is to have Yolanda and her girls together in Nogales by Christmas.
Alma and Guillermo, Guatemala
Twelve-year-old Guillermo travelled from Guatemala with his family and got lost during the crossing. Alma was trying to reunite with her daughters in Phoenix when she met Guillermo. She shared her food with him and, with other migrants, they spent four days traversing in the desert, hoping to reach the border. Hungry, dehydrated, and worried for their lives, they eventually burned their clothes, so the smoke would alert the U.S. Border Control to their presence. Alma told the authorities that Guillermo was her son so that she could look after him, a kindness that engendered mixed feelings as she thought of her own children in the U.S., one of whom had been recently assaulted but, fearing deportation, did not report the crime. Alma and Guillermo arrived at the KBI comedor, where they were fed and could contact their respective families. Because Guillermo’s grandparents have lived in Tennessee for years, the KBI is directing him and his family to the proper resources so they can be safely reunited in the U.S.
When Pablo was three months old, his family migrated to Phoenix from Mexico. He grew up, attended school, and worked in Arizona. He had never even visited Mexico, but was deported there after a traffic violation flagged him as undocumented. When he arrived in Nogales, he knew no one and everything was disorienting to him. The staff of the KBI helped him track down an uncle living in Nogales, based on only a first name and information about his cock-fighting activities. Now that Pablo, 38, is safely settled with his uncle, he can plan his next steps.