Separated By Deportation, Family Plans To Reunite In Mexico

Almost 2 million undocumented immigrants have been deported in the years since president Obama took office. Among them is Jasmine Mendoza's husband, who was deported to Mexico following a routine traffic stop. But, as she tells NPR's Kelly McEvers, she's planning on joining her husband in Mexico.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. Arun Rath is away. I'm Kelly McEvers.

This month, the U.S. is projected to hit two million deportations since President Obama took office. That number has sparked protests by pro-immigration reform activists across the country. Next week, Obama will meet with the Hispanic caucus in Congress, but expectations are low now that comprehensive immigration reform is stalled in the House.

Jasmine Mendoza's family is one of the millions that's been separated by deportation.

JASMINE MENDOZA: My husband got pulled over February 26, 2013 for not having his seat belt on after dropping his friend off at LaGuardia Airport.

MCEVERS: Authorities found that Jasmine's husband, Claudio, had entered the U.S. illegally back in 1998 after his visa had expired. Claudio had made good money as a mason. When he was deported, Jasmine says, she found herself with no income and a baby boy.

MENDOZA: So when he got deported, we had $34 in the bank account.

MCEVERS: And how old was your son?

MENDOZA: Eight months old.

MCEVERS: And so what did you do?

MENDOZA: I've gone from a part time in decorator house to working two jobs.

MCEVERS: And you've had to figure out how to do all kinds of stuff at home, right?

MENDOZA: I have learned to prime and bleed a furnace along with changing a filter. I learned how to do a radiator transmission flush courtesy of YouTube, how to change spark plugs and engine coil, unfreezing pipes, opening walls up, unclogging showers, toilets. You name it, I've probably done it.

MCEVERS: Jasmine gets food stamps and this winter got fuel assistance to keep the furnace on. Jasmine and her son, Cruz, who's about to turn 2, are both U.S. citizens. They're not in danger of being deported, but Jasmine says she can't stay. She's packing up her things, selling the car, quitting her two jobs and taking her son to Mexico.

MENDOZA: I just need to find my peace again and stay there and just - and try to live a life, you know?

MCEVERS: Yeah.

MENDOZA: They took everything from us. We were going to purchase our first real home, picket fence, it had the big oak tree in front of the house and everything. And we just got approved for the bank loan weeks before. And I've lost everything. I might as well restart. I can restart anywhere, you know?

MCEVERS: Jasmine and her family are planning to settle in Michoacan, where her husband's originally from, but it's also a place that's seen fighting between civilian vigilantes, cartels and government forces.

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