Undocumented mothers say they left violence; now fearing deportation

‘Me procupa que me separen de mis hijas,’ mother says

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – The stories of two undocumented mothers from separate countries may be different, but the constant emotion of living in fear is the same.

One of the women -- who wishes not to be identified due to safety concerns -- said she crossed the Rio Grande when she was 23 years old, fleeing the violence in her hometown of Veracruz, Mexico, to work in the United States.

She said the violence in her hometown has continued with her niece and cousin recently being kidnapped.

Now living in the United States, she fears deportation and being separated from her 9-year-old son who cries constantly about the idea of never seeing his mother again.

For Heidi, who came to the United States five years ago from Honduras, she is concerned her family might be separated at any moment.

“Me procupa que me separen de mis hijas (I'm worried about being separated from my daughters),” Heidi said.

Heidi said she left her country to not only escape the violence but also poverty. She said she turned herself in at one of the port of entries, but because she didn’t have a permanent address at the time to receive paperwork, she remained undocumented.

“They are fearful (and) they have instability in America,” Sister Phylis Peters, director of Proyecto Juan Diego, said.

Proyecto Juan Diego, a nonprofit organization in Brownsville, Texas, has been dedicating its efforts to educating, engaging and empowering for underserved South Texas families for over a decade.

The organization said it encounters about 48,000 people a year and serves about 13,000 of them.

“We put over 700 applications into immigration alone,” Peters said.

With recent changes placed by the Trump administration, Peters said she is concerned for the families.

“Our values are changing, and it’s not our values that we grew up with but it is the American values which we’ve all grown up with. We don’t want to lose that,” Peters said.

“Somos muchas las familias que andamos haci igual (We are many families that walk the same way),” Heidi said. “Que dios no los abandone (May God not abandon them).”

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, the undocumented population was 10.8 million in 2016.

The independent research organization, however, said the numbers are changing and can be offset by return migration, legalization and even deaths.

About the Authors:

Tiffany Huertas is known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.