Court's Ruling on Deportation Divides a Family

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The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the deportation of illegal immigrant Humberto Fernandez-Vargas, saying he must return to Mexico. Rita Fernandez, the wife of the deportee, tells Madeleine Brand what the ruling means to her family.


Earlier today, I spoke with Rita Fernandez. She's in Utah. She is the wife of that illegal immigrant, Humberto Fernandez-Vargas. We had broken the news to her this morning that her husband had lost his case.

Ms. RITA FERNANDEZ (Wife of Immigrant): It destroyed my family. I don't know what I'm going to do now. My son is just tore up in his bedroom. He just says I love my daddy. I said, well, I don't know what to do. I said, I don't know. I said maybe we should just end our lives like this and so put it on the government's head. You know I don't know what else to say. Had my husband done something, you know, he hurt somebody or he blew something up or something, I could see. But this is, this is just the beginning. This is just the beginning, because it's going to happen to a lot more people, a lot more families are going to be tore up because of this immigration problem.

BRAND: Have you had a chance to speak with your husband today?

Ms. FERNANDEZ: I have not been able to speak to him 'cause he's at work. I won't be able to talk to him until after 7:00.

BRAND: Where is he now?

Ms. FERNANDEZ: He's in a place called Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua.

BRAND: In Mexico. And what is he doing?

Ms. FERNANDEZ: He's a truck driver.

BRAND: And when was the last time you saw him?

Ms. FERNANDEZ: September the 6th of 2004.

BRAND: Wow, a long time ago.

Ms. FERNANDEZ: Yeah, it's long. My feelings don't change for him. My feelings it will never change for him. I love that man with all my heart. I talk to him every Wednesday, and we just talked about this last night. He says I know we're going to get this. He said I will be back home. Don't worry about this. And I said, yeah, I know. I said, I have a lot of hope and faith. But now, I don't know what I believe in anymore.

BRAND: How old is your son?

Ms. FERNANDEZ: My son is - he just turned 17.

BRAND: I bet he misses his daddy.

Ms. FERNANDEZ: Yeah, he does. He's at a critical point in his life. Where I work, I only make 6.50 an hour. I can't keep up with everything that I have here at my house, because he's not here to help. So is the government going to support me now? Can I get welfare now that this is all over with?

BRAND: Have you considered moving to Mexico?

Ms. FERNANDEZ: Well, he's dying of starvation over there. So I guess we probably will be doing the same thing. My son wants to go into the military. He's got one more year of school. And now that this has happened, you know, I don't know whether - he is a good kid. He is a very good kid. He does good in school. We've taught him quite a bit to respect, not to hate. And now this, when this thing went over, you know, I told him and he saw me - he got up this morning and I was crying. And he said what's the matter, mom, are you feeling sick or what? And I told him, and he just, he went in his room, he closed the door. And he says, I told - you got to come out and help me with this, Anthony. He says, mom, what do you want me to do? He says - I says, are you, are you mad at daddy for this? And he said, no, I'm not mad at my dad. And he said just leave me alone for a while, will you. And I said, yeah, okay. So he, he's in his room.

We miss a lot of things. We were very close, all three of us. Everywhere we go, we were always together. We go fishing. We go deer hunting. We go everywhere, but that hasn't happened. Going to be - he's going to be in Mexico now for two years. It will be two years in September.

I don't know what I'm going to do now, you know, I - I probably will go live in Mexico. I will die and starve over there, even though I'm an American citizen. But I care too much. I wish I could have my family. That's all I want, is my family back together again, but that's not going to work out. So I have to go live in another country that I know nothing about, and die and starve over there.

BRAND: Ms. Fernandez, I wish you the best of luck.

Ms. FERNANDEZ: Thank you.

BRAND: And thank you very much for speaking with us.

Ms. FERNANDEZ: Bye bye.

BRAND: Rita Fernandez is the wife of Humberto Fernandez Vargas. The Supreme Court ruled today that he cannot appeal his deportation to Mexico.

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