Daughter worries about her mother's deportation

By Anita Abedian, NY1
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 11:27 AM EDT

Reporter Anita Abedian looks at one family's concerns about deportation as part of the Spectrum News special "Immigration in America.” Watch more on Spectrum News’ hour-long special at 7 p.m. with live town hall at 8 p.m. May 24 | 7 p.m. May 26 | 7 p.m. May 29.

Luba Cortés was 5 years old  when she arrived to the United States from Puebla, Mexico, as an undocumented immigrant in 1999. With her mother by her side, Cortés vividly remembers crossing the border: the wind, the stars, and the darkness of the night sky. Those treacherous steps into the unknown were necessary risks as they sought a new life and the freedom it offered.

“The day that my mom chose to migrate to this country, the day that my mom chose to wake me up and say ‘We have to find a new home’ was a day that changed my life, and it changed her life,” said Cortés.

With the changes came inevitable challenges. Cortés’s mother made a living as a lawyer in Puebla. In New York City, she worked as a housekeeper.

 “I always think about what my mom had to give up because she did grow up [in Puebla], she built a career there,” said Cortés. “No one wants to leave home because they want to—people leave because there are serious economic impacts, because there is war, because there is danger.”

The sacrifices Cortés’s mother made is one thousands of immigrants make to realize their American Dream—laboring in menial jobs, trying to ensure a better, safer life for their children and all while living under the threat of deportation.  

But in 2012, Cortés discovered that she qualified for a federal program that would allow her to work legally and remain in the United States. She enrolled in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive order of the Obama administration that allowed certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive temporary work authorization and deferred deportation.

Cortés was eventually able to adjust her status, while her mother remains an undocumented immigrant. She said the possibility of being separated from her mother, the fear of deportation, terrifies her.

“I’m always thinking of my mom,” said Cortés. “Of where she is, what is happening, was there a raid?”