April 27th, 2010
10:52 PM ET

Mother: Undocumented son ‘lives in the shadows’

Raquel had just left her job for the day as a cashier at her brother-in-law's restaurant in Phoenix when I called to ask if she would talk to me about Arizona's new immigration law. Without hesitation, she returned to the Mexican fast-food joint, where the air conditioner is temporarily out of service, a toy-grab machine guards the bathrooms and the day's special - torta milanesa - is written on a neon pink poster board. 

Like many Latinos in Phoenix, the 43-year-old mother of six was both apprehensive and eager to talk about the newly passed law, which requires police officers in the state to determine whether people are in the United States legally if there is a reason to suspect they aren't. Raquel has a work visa, and her five eldest children are in the country legally, but her 17-year-old Mexican-born son is in the country illegally.

"I constantly worry about him being arrested just because of the color of his skin," says Raquel, who asked not to be identified to protect her son. "He lives in the shadows because he wants to go out, drive around and be with friends, but I don't let him because I am afraid of what will happen to him."

Raquel says her situation is common; many families on the Mexican-American border consist of a mix of documented and undocumented relatives that live in constant fear of being separated. And now, with the passage of SB 1070, regarded as the nation's toughest anti-immigration laws, that fear is intensified.

Dressed in a black collared shirt and a denim skirt, Raquel smiles as she speaks in a calm, measured tone, until asked what she would do if her son was deported.

"Well, I would return to Mexico, without a doubt," she says, frowning. "But with the rest of my children here, it would tear our family apart."


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Filed under: Arizona • Immigration
soundoff (319 Responses)
  1. Melissa

    Gee how about this, have the son apply for a visa of his own, and get a job legally, and pay taxes. If he wants to be a part of America he is welcome to be, but don't expect to come here illegally and take our country's resources just to end up going back to Mexico someday or sending our dollars there to support their economy, our economy has it's own tough times now....If you and your family love this country so much, why don't you get your citizenship, otherwise, GET THE HELL OUT!

    And to everyone who talks about immigration of people from other countries – our ancessors, mine were from Sweden...my grandfather came her and LEGALLY recieved his citizenship, he learned the language got a job paid his taxes and LOVED AMERICA FOREMOST, and although he was proud of his heritage and country, you can bet the American flag always hung higher in his heart, thats why they call it the melting pot. Coming here and taking advantage of our resources illegally is a completly different thing it is disrespectful, and to me these people are like parasites.

    May 6, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • josh985

      I'm with you Melissa!

      May 18, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Elizabeth

    What happened to our sense of humanity? Human beings are not illegal.

    May 6, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth Mottley

      What a bunch of bunk. People who commit illegal acts with regard to their sneaking into out country and draining its resources are called illegals, a particularly accurate nomenclature. If you, Elizabeth, are so enamored of these folks, why not donate your income, give them your house, whatever. It's simple, in Mexico they are not illegal. Here they are.

      May 5, 2011 at 6:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. Melomedy

    To Melissa,

    Ummm...I'm defiitely going to need you to wake the hell up and smell the coffee!! Your key point, your grandfather was from SWEDEN!! Nobody was going to care one way or another if he was illegal or not unless he committed a crime!! The point here is that because its an issue with a darker race, this law comes into play. This country's history in regards to races darker than yours has been extraordinary!! Seriously, your grandfather wasn't a threat because he looked the the majority of people around him. Honestly...Lets just be real, if Hispanics LOOKED Swedish, then there most definitely wouldn't be to much of a problem now would it?

    May 7, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • josh985

      Hahaha. Thanks for the laugh Melomedy.
      You go on and think this is a race issue like a lot of liberals / media are try force feed everyone. Your logic is so off it amazes me that you tell everyone to smell the coffee... So you are saying if we had a Canadian illegal immigration problem we wouldn't care or ask white people for their identification? If you think the answer is "yes" than you are the one who needs to smell the coffee. Get real... Stealing is stealing and illegal immigrants are just that, illegal. Period.

      May 18, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Thomas

    I just can't get over the hatred people feel toward these immigrants.

    We all want to sit there and condemn them, but WE are eating the food they prepare from vegetables they picked off dishes they wash sitting in the restaurant they built.

    WE are hiring them to clean our homes, landscape our yards and do our laundry.

    American industry is moving jobs to Mexico in droves for cheaper labor, American small business is hiring illegals in droves for the same reason.

    Your ancestors probably came here looking for a better life, and unless they came through in the 20th century, they probably came through without papers or permission. If they came through long enough ago, you can bet they didn't register with the Native American authorities. These Mexican immigrants are the descendants of people who were here long before your ancestors subjugated them. Consider this "conquest" of the USA by the brownskins a little historical comeuppance.

    May 8, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. Thomas

    Melomedy is correct. The law is racist, straight up.

    May 8, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  6. Zee

    Statistics : on Welfare huppi.com/kangarool/L-welfareblack.htm
    White 38.8%
    Black 37.2
    Hispanic 17.8
    Asian 2.8
    Other 3.4

    Lets deport them too......

    May 21, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. 143

    I will paint my face white or black so I can be "either" or" , that way there will be no deportation. I'll still wash your dishes, do your laundry, deliver your vegetables, tend your children, take care and fix your house for a mere pay.. and oh, live in your storage -like space but with a tiny tiny whole to breathe and for the sun to come in.Thank you... Is this America? How about if we ban all Americans going out of America?would that be nice?:)) you may not realize this but there are many Americas living abroad illegally.

    May 28, 2010 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. X_Malc

    By ...Cindy
    If anyone in the family is illegal, the entire family should be considered illegal. The law that makes anyone born in the US an automatic citizen is crazy!

    Are you a blond? The law that makes anyone born in the US an automatic citizen is what made you a citizen of the U.S. Jesus H Freaking Christ. you sure are BLOND!!!!

    May 30, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jack

    There are other countries just as poor or poorer than Mexico. Also, multiply this woman by thousands more. If she has all these children that are here legally why hasn't she applied for citizenship? What about the Father? Her son wants to go out and have fun and is afraid of being caught? Does he go to school? If he were a good (not even excellent) student and trying to be a plus to the US I am sure someone would try to sponsor him. Not only that, there are so many Hispanics here they want to make it our second language, forced second language at that. I bought a product recently and all of the ingredients and directions were all in Spanish. It's all about $$$$, but wrong is wrong.

    June 4, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joe

    I believe that we should physically close the borders, but make it easier to be here legally. The truth is, people looking for a better life will ALWAYS come here from Mexico, and we should make the applications process much easier and more affordable for people who want to become legal, and start paying taxes, etc.

    That being said, if you are here illegally and have a criminal record, take your sorry @$$es back to Mexico. I absolutely believe that America should be a place for anyone that wants a better life for themselves or their family, but I do not want to share my home with a dirtbag who uses the mess of the immigration laws to hide his criminal activities. Crime here in AZ has spun out of control, and we are trying to stem the tide of illegal criminals flowing into our state. Unfortunately, coming down hard on illegals who have criminal backgrounds will undeniably have an impact on illegals who are simply here to work.

    June 6, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
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