Episode 3, The US-Born Grandchildren
For Imelda Gil, who met her grandchildren for the first time through a migrant reunion program that granted her a US visa, the experience was overwhelming.
She had seen them through video calls, but the chance to embrace them after being separated by the harsh realities of illegal immigration was unmissable.
While the children are US citizens, able to travel freely inside and outside the country, their parents are undocumented. So while their futures may offer more, they nevertheless live through the daily angst of illegal migration in America.
For their father Victor however, the hard part is already over.
““For me, the difference for my children is that they won’t have to suffer like I did to get here,” he told CGTN.
“If they want to come, they just come. They don’t have to suffer and cross the deserts, or the mountains. That’s the only difference.”
Meeting their grandmother for the first time was a loving experience for the children, but still young, they live in daily fear of the migration authorities.
They are not alone. The fear that arrest and deportation has on America’s migrant communities has done a great deal to hold them back.
Diana Cuevas, who also met her grandparents for the first time through the same migrant program, is another such case. The thought of losing family members and friends is terrifying.
“The pain of seeing that your family members are some of the ones to get deported, people you know, people you’ve grown up with, people you’ve seen have kids, grandkids even, and they get deported. The only thing you can do is be scared all the time,” she told CGTN.
For Diana, even though she’s a US citizen, deportation would be devastating to her own prospects. She’s pursuing a career in dentistry, but the loss of a major breadwinner would force her to give up her own dreams.
“If my mom was to, for any reason, not be here with us, I know not only would it break all of our hearts, it’s like having half of you being gone away”, she said.
“Then not only would I have to be responsible for her over there, but also responsible for my brother and my sister here.”
For the next generation, stuck between their family and their future, there’s often a pervasive feeling of insecurity, seen on a daily basis by immigration attorney Paola Ramirez.
“Of course their children feel that, because they don’t feel that they belong here,” she told CGTN in her legal offices.
“They think that their parents could be taken away, or that their parents will take them to a country that they don’t even know.”
For Victor, the decision is already made. Family unity is uppermost.
“The only option is for us to be together, because in reality you can’t do it any other way. Here you just live day-to-day, maybe one day you leave for work and you don’t come home. But this country has given us a lot, that’s why we’re here. For the moment, we’re still here.”
For America’s undocumented immigrants, under new scrutiny amid the current administration’s enforcement crackdown – there are few alternatives to embracing that ‘day-to-day’ approach.
Still, most hope for more.