Mother Worried about Nine-Year-Old Son in Children’s Home
“Sonia H.’s” nine-year-old US-citizen son, “David,” has been living with nuns at a children’s home in Laredo, Texas, since Sonia was deported across the Rio Grande to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, in August. Sonia felt leaving her son with the nuns, to continue his education in the US, was her best option.
“It’s hard, so hard,” she said. “But I’ll just have to be here, seeing him whenever I can.”
Her plan, as she described it at a migrant help center, was to stay in Nuevo Laredo and have David travel from Laredo on weekends to visit her here. Getting settled has been difficult – the 39-year-old waitress was having trouble obtaining the Mexican documents needed to get a job.
Fifteen years ago, Sonia, who was born in Hermosillo, Sonora, traveled to Texas on a US tourist visa to care for a grandmother who had permanent resident status. Sonia couldn’t get her visa renewed, but she stayed on anyway, even after her grandmother died, marrying a US citizen and cleaning houses, providing in-home eldercare, and working as a waitress.
By the time David was two, she said, her husband had become domineering and verbally abusive. They separated, and he moved to Indiana. Sonia was never able to collect child support, she said, because her husband knew she was vulnerable, as an undocumented immigrant, and that he could “blackmail” her.
The nuns sometimes watched David after school, so that Sonia could work enough hours to make ends meet. But she mostly worked at night, so that she could be with David, taking him bike riding, skating, to church, or to play with friends at the park.
About three months ago, she said – “since Trump said they were going to crack down on immigrants” – she was stopped by Border Patrol agents as she got off a city bus. It happened to her at 3 a.m. on July 22, as she made her way home from a shift at Denny’s. Immigration and Customs Enforcement locked her in immigration detention and deported her ten days later.
Sonia doesn’t know whether her divorce was ever finalized, and she fears that if her ex finds out she’s been deported, he’ll take David. But if she gets lucky, she said, David can stay with the nuns until he is eleven years old; after that, the home houses only girls. David is a good student – great with computers – Sonia said, and she hopes that when he has to leave the home, he can go to a boarding school operated by the nuns in Nebraska.
“I’ve never committed a crime, I’ve never been in jail,” Sonia said. “I didn’t drive because I didn’t have a license; I never broke the law except by not having papers.” She blinked back tears. “Trump shouldn’t kick out people who are just taking care of their families.”