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Apr-03-2014 12:37printcomments

Northwest Families Reunited after Crossing the United States and Mexico Border

Those returning home include Sandra and her three year old son from Nevada; Elvira and her daughter Paola from Washington; and Maria, a grandmother from Oregon.

Family deported to Mexico

(PORTLAND) - Today five undocumented people from Oregon, Washington and Nevada will all be home with their families because of a huge outpouring of community support throughout the Pacific Northwest. Over the past week, they were released from detention after crossing the US-Mexico border earlier this month. Those returning home include Sandra and her three year old son from Nevada; Elvira and her daughter Paola from Washington; and Maria, a grandmother from Oregon.

Of the fourteen people from the Northwest who crossed, only three remain in detention. Kimberly, a student from, Washington, is currently detained at Otay Detention Facility in California. Jose, father of three from Sunnyside, Washington, remains in detention in Otay Detention Facility even though his three children and wife who crossed with him have already been released. Despite ICE’s national policy against the detention of pregnant women, 5 months pregnant Sugey Carrazco, from Ashland, Oregon, is still being detained at the Otay Detention Center in California. An interview with Sugey from detention can be found here:

All fourteen were part of the Bring Them Home Project, a group of 150 undocumented people who attempted to reunite with their families by crossing the border into the United States. Everyone who crossed was detained by border patrol and the majority, including some children, remain in detention. Many suffered humiliation and dehumanizing treatment during their stay in detention. Those who have been released, including Elvira Arellano, a TIME Person of The Year in 2006, are now speaking out about their experiences and calling for the release of the rest of the group.

People across the United States are rallying, holding vigils, signing petitions and lobbying their representatives demanding that Bring Them Home families be released from detention. Representatives across the country, including- Lorena Gonzalez (CA), Lloyd Doggett (TX), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Doris Matsui (CA) and Juan Vargas (CA)- have written letters to president Obama, calling on him to release those detained and to halt deportations. Bring Them Home has sparked a national debate around the injustice of deportations and has inspired people to take similar action.

Bring Them Home is a cross-border response to the crisis of mass deportations in the United States. “The goal of this action is to reunite 250 family members. The immigration system isn’t working. Borders have broken our families and communities. We will not wait for the government to tell us when we can reunite with our loved ones that have been deported. We are taking matters into our own hands,” says Liliana Luna, an undocumented DREAMer leading the effort to Bring Them Home to the Northwest.

Rosario Lopez, another organizer with Bring Them Home NW says, “At its heart we are talking about humanity and how we are treating each other. We believe all of the 2 million men, women, and children who have been deported since President Obama took office deserve to come home. We are doing this for all people who have been deported.”

Follow BringThemHome on Twitter at: @ORDreamActivist and on Facebook at:

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Biographies for the Northwest participants who remain in detention:

Sugey Carrazco first came to the U.S. at the age of 5, she lived in San Diego, California for three years, after which her family moved to Oregon. Sugey attended Klamath Union High School and received her GED in 2005. Sugey has two U.S. Citizen children; Haziel, eight years old, and Axel, a five years old who was born with a brain deficiency. Doctors in the U.S. ordered that he have yearly brain scans to discover his diagnosis. Sugey is now 5 months pregnant with her third child. She fears for her children's’ well being, especially given the fact that doctors have yet to understand Axel’s medical condition.

Sugey left to Mexico in 2010 to care for her grandmother who was diagnosed with breast cancer and to escape her abusive partner. In Mexico, Sugey learned her son would not be able to get any medical care, for the three years she’s been there Axel has never had a medical check-up. To make matters worse, her abusive partner also returned to Mexico, to find her. Sugey wants to return to the US for the sake of all her children and her family’s health.

Jose Manuel Morales Chavez came to the United States in 1999 to reunite with his wife and daughter. For years, he worked in the fields picking cherries, grapes, apples, carrots and asparagus. One day on his way to work he was picked up by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deported to Mexico. He returned to the US for a short while to be with his family, but lived in constant fear. He made the difficult decision to move back to Mexico with his family in 2009.

It has been extremely difficult for Jose and his family in Michoacan. At work, he was held at gunpoint and his life was threatened. The same men called his home, claiming to have kidnapped his children and asking for money in exchange for their return. Jose wants to leave the violence and insecurity in Michoacan behind and return to a life where his dreams of owning a home and sending his children to college are possible.

Kimberly Sotelo Ochoa was three years old when she came to Washington with her mother. For the past 17 years, her life revolved around her school and family. She learned English, made friends, joined after school clubs, and played sports. She dreamed of going to college and becoming a surgeon to save people’s lives. After high school, Kimberly’s undocumented status made it nearly impossible for her to apply to colleges, scholarships, and jobs. She returned to Mexico with the hope of realizing her dream of attending college.

Life in Sonora, Mexico has been a nightmare since Kimberly stepped foot there. She had to adapt to a country she didn’t know. She has been bullied because of her accent, mugged, and threatened. She constantly feels unsafe. Kimberly wants to return back to Washington, the place that feels like home. She hopes to pursue her dreams and live a safe life back in the United States. More importantly, she wants her family in Washington back by her side. Learn more about Kimberly’s story here:

Biographies for the Northwest participants who have been released from detention:

Elvira Yolanda Olguin Estrada came to the United States to create a better life with her sisters, father, husband and daughter. She dreamed of buying a home, paying for her children to go to college and one day obtaining a visa to live in the country legally. After her husband was deported, she decided to move back to Mexico with her children in order to keep her family together.

Upon Elvira’s return to Michoacan, she realized she had made a huge mistake leaving the U.S. Everyday violence threatened the health and safety of her family. She lost confidence in the police and feared that her family might be harmed in a shooting. Elvira misses the days when she woke up early to take her kids to the bus stop, to prepare coffee and head off to work without worrying about the safety of herself and her family. She wants to return to the place she considers her home, the United States.

Paola Citlally Morales Olguin was brought to the United States by her mother when she was a baby. She loved growing up with her friends and family in Washington. She dreamed of going to college and studying. She lived in Washington until her mother decided to return to Mexico with Paola and her brother.

In Mexico, Paola faced many challenges. She was made fun of and bullied because of growing up in the United States. A classmate who claimed to be connected to a drug cartel threatened her life at school. Her principal ignored the issue and did nothing to change the situation. Paola is ready to return to her home, family, friends and especially to her school. She hopes to come back to fulfill her dream of getting educated and going to college.

In 1999, Sandra Veronica Ramos Ramirez came to the United States to help her cousins care for their children. Sandra and her children liked their life and community in Nevada. However, she experienced violence from the father of her children. She was forced to return to Mexico by her daughter’s father after his family took their child back to Mexico without her consent. It has been difficult for Sandra and her children in Mexico. Her children were bullied at school because they couldn’t read in Spanish. Further, Sandra fears letting her children go to school alone, because of the increase in violence by drug traffickers and armed groups. Her children and Sandra want to return back to their home in Las Vegas.

Sandra will be crossing the border with her 4 children to return to her home to Nevada. Her dream is to see her children grow up, go to school, and to be good students. Her goal is to have a good job to give her children a better life. She wants to be an example for her children, community, and this country that is her home.

Maria Angela Zapoteco Juárez and her two children came to the United States in July of 1990 to reunite with her husband. She worked as a teaching assistant, daycare provider, and housekeeper in order to provide for her family. She was swept up into deportation proceedings in 2006. After fighting her case for two years and experiencing legal fraud, she was pressured to sign a voluntary departure.

Both in the United States and Mexico, she has experienced violence at the hands of her husband. She has been forced into hiding in Mexico out of fear for her life. It has been six years since she has seen her daughters and granddaughters in Oregon. She wants to return to her family in Oregon to meet her newborn granddaughter and find safety away from her violent husband.

Biographies for the Northwest participant who was deported: Dolores Lara Villegas came to the United States to give his family a better life. He lived in the United States for 11 years. During those years, he worked in the agricultural fields and watched his children grew up. He dreamed that his children would have the opportunity to be educated; a dream he was not able to fulfill for himself. His dream has partially come true. Two of his three children are now attending college in the United States. However in 2011, Dolores was deported back to Sonora, Mexico and was separated from his family and his dream.

In Sonora, Dolores learned that “home is not the country where you are born but the place you create for yourself.” He was unable to find a job for many months. Most of all, the pain of missing his children has been the hardest change for him. His children are his strength and support system. He hears his children cry over the phone each time they talk. He wants to return to the United States. He does not want another year to pass before he sees his children.

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Anonymous April 5, 2014 3:08 pm (Pacific time)

I have the perfect way to deal with our southern border-- have our immigration laws and border personnel do exactly as Mexico is doing.

Robert April 5, 2014 10:22 am (Pacific time)

I think you have that backwards Jimmy - Seems we're in a system that it's ok to break the law as long as your wealthy

Jimmy April 4, 2014 8:25 am (Pacific time)

Oh, it's ok to break the law every day as long as your poor?

Love ya' Jimmy! If you honestly have to ask that question, you may never be able to find it.   We can debate philosophy, but the short answer to your question is yes, but only the laws of these ridiculous governments, not the law of God. Hope that makes sense.

Anonymous April 4, 2014 7:16 am (Pacific time)

"They only let the ones who are already rich immigrate, this is about people of lesser means." GO TO LEWISTON MAINE, DEARBORN MICGIGAN, MASON CITY IOWA, ETC., ETC...

Jimmy April 3, 2014 12:51 pm (Pacific time)

So, are they still here ILLEGALLY?
What does this say to the many people that are LEGALLY waiting to immigrate?

They only let the ones who are already rich immigrate, this is about people of lesser means.

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