A Columbus woman who says she was brought into the United States illegally as a child faces deportation after trying to renew her work permit.
The 31-year-old mother of six U.S.-born children — including a 15-year-old Autistic son — said officials at the Homeland Security office in Atlanta denied her request and told her she will be deported back to Guatemala on Aug. 8.
She has been the victim of domestic violence at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, she said, and an attorney in Atlanta is trying to get her a U visa so she can stay in the country.
In an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer, the woman asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions.
“I’ve been here in the U.S. 23 years,” she said. “I’ve never been arrested. I’ve never been convicted of anything, got a driving ticket just once.”
She recalls very little of her entry to the country at age 7.
“I just remember that a man brought me,” she said. “He went to pick me up at my grandma’s house when she was still alive. ... Next thing I know I was here with my mom, that’s all I remember.”
She said her mother had came to the United States because of domestic violence and received a work permit, which only covered one of her children. The family built a life in California.
The woman, now living in Columbus, said she moved to the area 13 years ago to work for a local company. She received a work permit to stay in the country about two years ago because of her Autistic son, she said. Homeland Security renewed the permit last year, but refused when she went back on May 4.
She said her children’s ages range from 3 to 15 years old, and she will have to make arrangements for the family to fly to Guatemala on Aug. 8.
“That’s a scary situation because my 15-year-old, he has a lot of stuff going on in his life,” she said. “He has autism; he has ADHD. And he he just has surgery last year for sclerosis.
“If I do have leave to my country, I have to take my kids with me because I’m the only parent that they have,” she said. “There is no way that I can give him what he needs to be good. He needs therapy, medications and all that.”
The woman said she hasn’t gone back to Guatemala since leaving as a little girl.
“I have no family, no living relatives over there in Guatemala,” she said. “And I have absolutely no where to go. It’s kind of sad and depressing knowing that not just me, but my kids, have to go to a place where they have never been and I don’t know anymore.
“I don’t have a house,” she said. “I don’t have any relatives over there. So I don’t know where I’m going to go and where I’m going to stay and take my kids.”