LatinaLista — This weekend will always be etched into the memory of Marlen Moreno. It’s when she will either be deported to Mexico or allowed to remain with her husband and two young children who all are U.S. citizens.
Marlen classifies as a DREAM Act student. Brought over at the age of 13, she grew up in Tucson, Arizona and was the first in her family to graduate from high school. Aside from being a young mother, Marlen has dreams of becoming a pre-school teacher — but that changed one night when Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents decided they needed to raid her house in the middle of the night.
Marlen Moreno with her husband and two young sons.
For some unknown reason, ICE felt she was a threat and hustled her out of her home — away from her young family. Ever since, she’s been telling the government she only wants to be with her family and realize her dream of being a pre-school teacher.
In her own words, Marlen recounts what happened to lead her to this weekend. It’s clear that this young 25-year-old mother is not a threat to national security.
Marlen is yet another example of how a dysfunctional immigration system allowed a family to live here in the United States for so long that to deport someone like Marlen at this stage in her life is more of an act of cruelty rather than abiding by the law.
To help Marlen plead her case to the Department of Homeland Security, people are asked to call Janet Napolitano, Director of Department of Homeland Security, and leave comments of support for Marlen and also ask that DHS stop her deportation: 202-282 – 8495 or call Assistant Secretary to ICE, John Morton and leave a message urging him to take action and defer Marlen’s deportation: 202.732.3000.
In Marlen’s own words:
I was born in Nacozari, Mexico in 1984. My parents brought me to the United States when I was only 13 years old. We were searching for a better life and we found it in Tucson, Arizona. Despite being born in Mexico, I don’t consider myself Mexican. I have been living in this country for over thirteen years. The United States is my country and Arizona is my home.
My parents have always told me to value education. I remember them telling me that they came to the United States, “the country of opportunity,” so I could live a better life than they did. I never took their sacrifice for granted.
In 2002, I became the first and only member of my family to graduate from high school. I was proud of my achievements but scared that I could not go any further. Because of my status, I was not able to continue with my education. My goal is to become a pre-school teacher, because I believe education is the key to success. I want to help children achieve their full potential from a young age, so they can continue to excel in every aspect of their lives.
Despite my goals of higher education, I was forced to put them aside and work as an assistant cleaning houses and a maid in a hotel. This was not what I wanted to do with my life, but I was thankful for any job I was able to get. For four years, I worked hard to support myself and help my family financially knowing that someday I would be able to live out the American Dream.
In 2007, my first son was born, Freddy Alan. Thanks to him, I came to know what it means to be a mother. I never knew I could be this happy or love someone as much as I love him. I went back to work soon after his birth because I wanted to provide him with everything he deserved.
On March 28, 2008, my son and I were awakened by a loud bang on our door. Before I could fully figure out what was happening, ten heavily armed deputies came into my house and arrested me because I am undocumented. I was taken to jail and held without bail.
I was detained for over four months, when I was finally released and allowed to reunite with my son once again. When I came home, after four and a half months, I realized how much I had missed. My son had turned one and he had learned how to walk while I was in jail.
It pains me to know that I never saw his first crawl, the first time he sat up, learned to play, his first bites of real food, or when he took his first steps. But what pains me the most is the fact that he didn’t recognize me, his own mother, after I got out of jail. It still brings tears to my eyes knowing my own son didn’t know who I was. It took us months to come back together, like we had been before we were separated.
I try not to think about the way I was treated during this time. I had been treated like a criminal, as if I had robbed a bank when all I was doing was working to provide for my son and my family. It was not the same America I had grown up knowing.
In 2009, I met my husband and we married. He came into my life at a time when I needed him the most. He provided the support and love that I needed, and I will never forget that. In November of 2009, I had my second son, Leobardo Jr. My husband is a Lawful Permanent Resident and both of my sons are citizens. I am the only person in my family who is undocumented, but I still cannot legalize my status.
For the past year I have been fighting my deportation but now I am at the end of that fight and I am being told I must leave the United States by August 8th. I cannot think about being separated from my husband and my sons. I don’t want to think about going back to Mexico, a place I don’t consider my home.
I consider myself an American. This is where my husband and my children are and I don’t want to be separated from them. I want to continue living my life in this country and I want to contribute back. I am not a criminal. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter. I am a human being.