Deportee's Over

INS gives Valley mom the boot after criminal past comes to light

"The people at the halfway house told us our relationship would never last. We've been married almost 10 years. The relationship will last," George says.

But George says he doesn't think his marriage will last too long when he can only see his wife one day a week. That's the most he and the girls get to see Rosa, he says. He works six days a week, then loads the family in the car on Saturday nights for the four-hour drive to Nogales. George says the family is suffering financially because he is supporting two households, and had to cut back his hours at work in order to take care of his daughters.

"My girls are young," Rosa says. "I'm worried about them. I don't know if they're brushing their hair, bathing, eating right. I would help them with their homework before, and now I can't. My husband works and can't do it all himself."

George Lopez is raising his daughters alone, after his wife's deportation.
Paolo Vescia
George Lopez is raising his daughters alone, after his wife's deportation.

Adreanna's first-grade teacher, Nicole Durazo, says she thinks the 7-year-old suffered academically, socially and emotionally after her mother was deported.

"It's very traumatic -- how can you explain that your mom is just gone one day?" Durazo says.

George says his wife's absence has taken a toll on the whole family.

"I am slowly going down because of this," he says.

"My daughters know their mother is there, but they don't understand why. Basically, they want their mom to come home. They cry just about every night. It's heart-wrenching."

Amy Bjelland, the Lopezes' lawyer, says the chances of reuniting them in the United States are slim. She also says this family is not alone.

"In some ways, it's not unique. We have several clients who have families here, but get deported. This is just kind of one in a long line of tragic stories -- people who have made a mistake in the past that will affect them forever."

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