Wisconsin native Jennifer Martínez is preparing to move her four U.S.-born children to Mexico, where their father, an undocumented immigrant, was deported last month following a campaign that included a direct appeal to President Barack Obama.
Martínez contacted the Mexican Consulate in Chicago to arrange dual citizenship for the kids, who range in age from 17 months to 6 years.
"There will be at least 10 years of obligatory residence in Mexico. I don't want to go, but I have to reunite the family. I don't have a choice," she told Efe by telephone from Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
Her husband, 32-year-old Jaime Martínez, was deported March 23, a day after Jennifer was joined by various immigrants rights groups in calling on Obama to use his discretionary authority to block the deportation.
"I had a lot of faith that they were going to let him go," Jennifer says now. "He wasn't a criminal, he had a family and a job. He wasn't a threat to society."
"But despite his being our only means of support, no one listened to me. Now I have to accept reality and take my struggle to Mexico," she says.
Jaime Martínez was being held by the Chicago office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, several hours away from Manitowoc.
"Another person who was locked up with Jaime called me at 8:00 at night to tell me they cut his (Jaime's) telephone account with the order to get ready to travel," the immigrant's wife recounts.
"I got to Chicago at midnight, with barely a half-hour to see him through a window, without any chance of a kiss or a hug," she says.
Her and her children watched as he was taken by bus from Texas to Mexico.
Jennifer and Jaime met in 1998, a year after the Mexican man entered the United States for the first time at the age of 17.
The couple later married and settled down in Manitowoc, where Jaime was arrested by local police on a warrant issued by ICE, which was pursuing Martínez because he re-entered the country twice after previous deportations, the latest in 2003.
ICE has said Jaime is the kind of undocumented immigrant they are trying to focus on -- one who's crossed the border illegally multiple times and has a criminal record.
Before beginning the long drive to Mexico, Jennifer Martínez plans to take part in an April 29 march in Milwaukee organized by the immigrant rights organization, Voces de la Frontera.
"With faith in God I will continue struggling wherever I find myself, to reunite undocumented families and until someone starts to think humanely, leaving politics aside," she says.