Lourdes Salazar Bautista lifted an old photograph of her daughter to her heart and smiled. It was late at night, and she was going through keepsakes that had accumulated over the years as she raised her family in Michigan. Her children, Bryan Quintana-Salazar, 13, and Lourdes Quintana-Salazar, 15, were sitting on the back porch as they tossed documents into a glowing fire in an effort to clean out the house. Pamela Quintana-Salazar, 19, sat opposite her mother, looking at old photographs. The family was preparing for the worst, yet still hoping for the best.
Soon after, Bautista was deported. She tearfully left Ann Arbor, a place she had called home for 20 years. Now she and her two youngest children, Bryan and Lourdes, stay with her mother in Mexico. Soon they will move into an apartment in Toluca, Mexico, where Bryan and Lourdes will attend school.
“Sometimes I can’t find the adequate words to explain to my kids that there’s no reason why they have to pay for their parents, being that they are citizens and they have the right to be in [the U.S.],” Bautista said. “They want to return to their schools with the lives they had in the U.S., since it is what they know.”
More than a month after the transition to Mexico, Bautista said she experiences a lack of employment opportunity and personal safety. She is hoping to find a job to support her children. “It is very hard to return to where you left one day looking for a better life,” Bautista said.
In the past, Bautista had been granted the ability to postpone deportation to take care of her children in the United States. This agreement lasted about seven years, in exchange for her husband’s deportation. Now, she faces a 10-year ban from the U.S. Her eldest daughter, Pamela, hopes to apply for a pardon once she turns 21 on behalf of her mother, which would allow her mother to come back to the U.S. Until then, Bautista and her two youngest children are separated from Pamela, who lives in East Lansing, Michigan while attending Michigan State University.
“I will continue fighting,” Bautista said. “So that one day we can return and live the life that, being American citizens, [my children] have the right to live.”
See more here, from The GroundTruth Project.