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Hope, fear collide for local immigrant on expired visa

PHOENIX — The debate over comprehensive immigration reform is continuing in Arizona and throughout the country.

An undocumented worker, “Maria,” who came to the Valley on a visa, stayed after it expired. She’s counting on immigration reform to give her family a better future.

The single mother of two grown children speaks only Spanish. Through an interpreter, she said that she moved to the U.S. from Mexico 14 years ago for a better life for her and her children.

She’s glad she made the move. “It’s been really great. I came here to work. I’m giving it a lot of effort and am happy to be here,” Maria said.

She admits that she has not yet filed any paperwork to try to legally stay in the country. Maria said she’s waiting for something. “We are patiently waiting for … immigration reform that can help us through this process,” she said..

Maria is self-employed. She works nights, cleaning homes and offices. “Since the fall of the economy, it’s been difficult,” she said. “But we are surviving. I’m putting in a lot of work. That’s what I’m doing. I’m working.”

Sometimes Maria thinks about returning to Mexico, and worries that she could be deported. “One thing I’ve found to be very scary is that I can be walking out on the street and not know if I’m going to be able to come back home.”

It’s already happened to her son. He was deported to Mexico a couple of years ago after he was caught driving without a license.

“The sad thing about his deportation is that he was deported 15 days before he was scheduled to graduate from high school,” Maria said.

She’s hoping that her son can someday return here, and said immigration reform is important to helping that happen.

If it does, it would a blessing for her son and the rest of her family. “It would be a great future for me, my daughter, my granddaughter. It would be a great future.”