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Undocumented Life: One year later, an immigrant gets a Christmas wish
Leticia Morua had lost hope. The mother of three was severely depressed and the threat of losing her children worried her sick.
"I didn't care about anything. I just kept thinking that I didn't want to be separated from my children," she said. "I was worried about the
state taking my children away."
The 38-year-old had been placed under deportation proceedings in March 2010 following a traffic violation. The Chicago Reporter featured her story in the 2011 November/December cover story entitled "The Allure of Secure."
But today, she’s hopeful again. One recent Sunday morning she glides into her children’s room to get them ready for church. Talking with them, she smiles openly. Her attitude and demeanor completely changed in only one year.
That’s because on Dec. 3, 2012 an immigration judge granted her request for "cancellation of removal," which means she is now a
Undocumented immigrants can qualify for a cancellation of removal if the immigrant has lived in the country for 10 years continuously, has no criminal record, is a person of good moral character and if the deportation would result in exceptional and extreme hardship to a United States citizen or permanent resident who is a spouse, child or parent.
Morua has three U.S.-born children and her middle child, an 11-year-old girl, has a medical condition that requires her mother's
care. Morua declined to discuss her daughter's condition, but said the girl also was concerned about what would happen to her mom.
"My daughter wrote a letter for the judge," she said. "She was really worried about this situation. I couldn't take her back to Mexico with
In Zacatecas Mexico, where Morua is from, paying for medical care is a luxury she couldn't afford.
"I was really sad after hearing the cases (in immigration court) that were going before me," she said. "The judge was just by letting me
stay. I'm so happy. My family will not be separated."
Morua was one of thousands of undocumented immigrants placed under deportation proceedings under Secure Communities, where local enforcement agencies share the fingerprints of anyone who is arrested with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In Illinois, 46 percent of 3,023 people who were booked into immigration custody under Secure Communities between Nov. 24, 2009, and July 25, 2011, were never charged with, or convicted of, the crimes for which they were arrested. Another 29 percent were charged with one misdemeanor, which in many cases stemmed from a traffic violation, like Morua’s, before being taken into immigration custody, the Reporter's investigation found.
But unlike many of the immigrants that ended up in deportation proceedings under this program, Morua is one of the few who was able
to stay in her Bolingbrook home with her family.
"This has been like a Christmas gift," she said. "We can celebrate Christmas together."