When president Donald Trump announced his executive order to deport all undocumented immigrants – with or without criminal records – many didn’t know what to expect. The Obama administration had focused on deporting people with criminal records, recent arrivals, and individuals who repeatedly entered the US without proper documentation.
But under the Trump administration, countless undocumented immigrants suddenly became high priorities for deportation, including a mother of five who is currently expecting another child.
On February 17, Lilian Cardona Pérez, met with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in North Carolina for her annual check-in. But instead of having her appointment with ICE, she was handed a letter saying she must report back on March 16 for deportation.
“You have to leave the country immediately,” an ICE official told Pérez. The confused 33-year-old was then asked when her baby was due. When she responded in May, the official said:
“You can’t have your baby here. You need to leave this country and go back to yours.”
The mother of five was given no other explanation about her deportation order. The official simply handed her a paper and said, “I expect to see you on this date with your tickets and passport.” The stress was too much for the expecting mother and she landed in the hospital.
Yesenia Polanco, Pérez’s lawyer, told Univison News:
“Under president Trump’s new executive order, she is subject to deportation because she already has an order of deportation but we are working on getting her a U Visa.”
In 2011, the Guatemalan native failed to attend an immigration court hearing and was ordered for deportation. But she defended herself saying the court date letter was delivered to her old address and she never got it.
Pérez arrived in the US with her parents when she was a teenager in 1997.
Since failing to appear in court, she has been legally living and working with a supervisory order. She said:
“I really didn’t expect something like this to happen. But I will not give up. I will continue fighting.”
Pérez is currently working with her lawyer to find obtain a U Visa, which is given to people who have suffered physical or mental abuse. She may be eligible after an attempted attack by multiple people last year, according to Polanco.
Despite this complication, Pérez hopes to stay in the US for her family’s sake. Her children range from ages five to 17.
She told Univision News:
“I only want the officials to help me. Why would I risk the lives of my children in Guatemala? The future of my children is in this country.”
Pérez refers to her hometown, Malacatán in Guatemala, where there is prevalent gang activity. As for her deportation order, the expecting mother says she will meet with ICE on March 16 without suitcases and with her children instead.
“I am going to introduce myself as I have always done. I don’t have anything to fear. I will not lose faith.”