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With the Threat of Deportation Hanging Over Their Heads, Families Have Difficulty Staying Together

cuffs.jpgThe reality of deportation is something that American citizens who were born and raised in the United States think little about. But that reality is all too pronounced for people like Sara Martinez who has been living in Brooklyn since 2005 when she and her husband and one of her two daughters came to the country from Ecuador on tourist visas. Her youngest daughter was born in the country after the family arrived and she and her husband sent their oldest daughter away to lives with friends outside of New York because they were concerned that immigration officials would find her and send her back to Ecuador.

The Stress of Living in Hiding Takes its Toll

Back in 2011, Ms. Martinez and her husband were facing the possibility of themselves being deported when they were taken into custody by Border Patrol agents while traveling through New York State. They were handcuffed and taken away by agents in front of both of their daughters before being detained by the agency for one day and then released. The trauma of the situation took its toll on the family in general and on Ms. Martinez’s marriage to her husband. It wasn’t long before the emotional strain of living in constant fear of immigration officials led to end of their marriage.

Currently living in a dilapidated apartment with only her youngest daughter with her, Ms. Martinez’s story is not an uncommon one among undocumented immigrants living in various places throughout the United States. And it is exactly the kind of situation that President Obama is intent on eradicating by taking unilateral action on immigration policy reform. The executive authority he has promised to use would allow people who are undocumented but who have children who are US citizens or legal residents to themselves stay in the country with their family members for a limited period of time and obtain work permits.

Ms. Martinez is Not Alone

Throughout the United States there are several million undocumented immigrants in situations similar to that of Ms. Martinez. According to the advocacy group The New York Immigration Coalition, there are anywhere from a quarter million to 350,000 living in the state of New York alone. The common denominator for virtually all of these people enduring this plight is family; they are looking for more than just freedom from the oppression of their home countries and refuge in the US, they also want to remain with their loved ones. But to hear people like Ms. Martinez tell it, the non-monetary costs associated with such an endeavor sometimes don’t seem worth it.

Over the last few years, she has lost her marriage and essentially one of her two daughters and is working a menial job that doesn’t require her to show papers of any kind, just to be able to have the bare essentials. She has stated in an interview that she isn’t sure everything she has endured and continues to endure is worth the struggle because for her – and millions of others like her – “family is everything.”

If you or someone you know is in need of legal counsel regarding an immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorneys at the Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.