Undocumented Immigrants Share Their Stories

POSTED: Friday, November 21, 2008 - 12:50am

UPDATED: Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 12:32pm

A man living in the U.S. since he was 10 worked under the impression he was a U.S. citizen. He was arrested and found out he was actually living in this country illegally. He was deported.

Four other undocumented families could also be deported, even though their children are U.S. citizens. These parents are pleading to federal officials to let them remain in this country.

Unfortunately for Brian Cadena, there is no hope. Even though he was only 10 years old when he illegally crossed the border with his mom, there is no law that protects him from deportation. And the mothers of U.S. Citizen children are faced with the tough decision to move their very ill children back to their country where they may not survive.

Cadena says he was full of mixed emotions the day he found out he wasn't a citizen of the United States. He never had problems with the law until he got arrested for the first time. He was put behind bars for domestic violence. But his charges were dismissed for insufficient evidence. But, instead of being freed, he was then detained by federal officials because of his immigration status.

“The judge told me I could go home, but then I came to find out ice was holding me so.”

He never questioned his legal status in the country. He lived in the U.S. for 10 years, not once doubting he was a citizen.

“I worked my daily basis, doing roofing and construction.”

That’s just one of many cases here in the Valley and the rest of the U.S. Immigration Attorney, Jodi Goodwin, has been working with undocumented immigrants for 14 years.

“There are so many children and young adults in the U.S. that have been here for so long, before to have a memory.”

Since the beginning of her career, she has been an advocate of protecting these children. She says the parents made the decision to live here illegally for a reason. the reason? A better future for the kids. For them, there is no law allowing them to legalize their residence status.

The Dream Act would provide undocumented high school students the opportunity to obtain permanent residency. Goodwin is hopeful the Dream Act will eventually pass so people like Cadena can return to the place they called home for many years. 20-year-old Cadena who was deported last week, tells us he is planning to cross the border illegally, all because of the family he left behind, a wife and 2-month old child who, unlike Cadena, are U.S. citizens.

These mothers are frustrated with the U.S. government. They feel powerless at this point. Tonight was the first time all four met each other. They’re all similar.

They are illegal immigrants who crossed to the U.S. hoping for a better future. Their children are U.S. citizens who require 24-hour assistance. The children have serious illnesses.

These ladies have put all faith on Goodwin. They want to remain in this country for their sick children. Both mothers want the opportunity to live in the U.S. for the sake of their kids' well being. All four kids have a different illness.

12-year-old Amy Villalobos suffers from Spina Bifida, a birth defect that involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord. She will remain in a wheelchair for the rest of her life and will need constant care.

Three and a half month old Raul Rojas suffers from heart conditions. He's already had two heart surgeries. Marisol Andrade tells us her son will need medical care for the remainder of his life.

3-year-old Jessica Garza was born with several birth defects. She was born without knees and elbows. She's already had four surgeries. She just started to take her first steps not too long ago but she'll never be a normal child. She will require multiple surgeries as she grows older. Zulema Diaz says it was depressing to see her baby in those conditions. But what was more depressing for her was when Jessica attempted to walk and couldn't.

And baby girl Daniela Mendez. She was born premature. She only weighed 1 lb at birth. She had her first surgery at only seven days old. This baby isn't even two years old and has already had 23 surgeries. She has several chronic diseases. Daniela is legally blind. She will never be able to walk or talk.
Claudia Cepeda went through deep depression. She says her baby's illness was tough to deal with. She compared it to a never-ending storm.

These ladies aren't asking for anything special. They believe their children have the rights like any other U.S. citizen to be treated in their country. All these women want is for the federal government to allow them to remain with their children in the United States as they grow older with these difficult challenges.

People are only a few of the many others who are faced with the same difficult situations...

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