Ana Cañenguez, a Salvadoran mother living in Utah who has been on a long, painful journey to support her kids, says that only her faith keeps her from despair now that she has received a deportation order that can separate her from her family.

"The situation now is really hard, but I feel optimistic and have faith in God. I'm clinging to my faith. But at other times, like when I'm alone, my optimism vanishes," she said in an interview with Efe.

In February 2003, after the death of her eldest son of a chronic health problem, Cañenguez decided to leave her country and come to the United States for the sole purpose of finding work "so my other children would have food and clothing."

"As of last week I've been in the United States for 10 years. I've lived in Utah and Arizona. Since I entered the country, which I love, I took the trouble to learn the laws in order to obey them. In the country I came from, no one explained American laws to me nor what you can do and not do here," she said.

Soon after arriving in Utah and beginning to look for work, she learned from another Salvadoran woman that she needed "certain documents" to be hired legally.

During her first two years she worked from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. at two different jobs so she could send money back to her kids in El Salvador.

In 2011, however, her now-teenage kids decided to leave home and come by themselves overland to Utah, only to be detained in Mexico.

From there they managed to contact their mother, who chose to leave the United States to rescue them. Cañenguez thought it would be a matter of days, but it took her two months of negotiations with Mexican authorities to get her youngsters back.

When she did, she had to face the Sonora Desert for a second time.

As a precaution she took a cell phone with her. When the situation in the desert got so frightening she doubted whether either she or her kids would live through it, she herself called the Border Patrol to come get them. That arrest led to her current deportation order.

"I had no alternative," the woman said. The deep sadness she feels, besides knowing that she will have to leave her two U.S.-born children, ages 5 and 7, and their father, comes from "having to live hidden in the shadows, not like a real person." EFE