Last November, Maria Guadalupe Zamudio, a Mexican national with temporary immigration status, was deported after trying to apply for permanent residency. She was banned from the US for ten to twenty years. Maria’s three children, aged nine to twelve, are all US citizens. Last Thursday, they joined their aunt and uncle to make a twenty-hour drive from Worthington, Minnesota to Washington, DC. They’ve each written letters to President Obama asking him to let their mother return. We speak to twelve-year-old Gerardo Zamudio. [includes rush transcript]
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Amidst two foreign military occupations and an economic crisis, the issue of immigration reform is slowly returning to the national stage. On Friday, thousands turned out across the country in May Day rallies for worker and immigrant rights. Meanwhile, in Washington, the Senate’s Immigration subcommittee opened hearings last week towards crafting a long-awaited immigration reform bill. President Obama is expected to speak publicly on immigration in the coming weeks. The New York Times reports Obama will convene working groups that would prepare legislation for as early as the fall.
AMY GOODMAN: At the top of the agenda for immigrant rights advocates is ending the spate of deportations that have separated more than a million families. We’re going to turn now to one family torn apart by deportation who have brought their case to Capitol Hill. Last November, Maria Guadalupe Zamudio, a Mexican national with temporary immigration status, was deported after trying to apply for permanent residency. She was banned from the US for ten to twenty years. Her three children, aged nine to twelve, are all US citizens. Well, last Thursday, they joined their aunt and uncle to make a twenty-hour drive from Worthington, Minnesota, to Washington, DC. They’ve each written letters to President Obama asking him to let their mother return.
We’re going to go now to Washington, DC, where we’re joined by Gerardo Zamudio, Maria Zamudio’s oldest son. He’s twelve years old. We’re also joined by Mariano Espinoza, the executive director of the Minnesota Immigration Freedom Network, who’s gone to Washington, DC, to join the Zamudio family.
We want to begin right now with Gerardo. Gerardo, why are you in Washington?
GERARDO ZAMUDIO: I am in Washington, because I would like — I would like my mom back, and I would like to talk to President Obama, because I want my mom back and I know that he can help us.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And you went back with your mother to Mexico last November when she was deported. What happened there when you were in Mexico in the schools there?
GERARDO ZAMUDIO: At school, I mean, I could write and read in Spanish, but my brothers had a hard time. And we just decided that it was no good, because in Mexico they teach us what we already know. So it was just like review.
AMY GOODMAN: Gerardo, what happened when they took your mother?
GERARDO ZAMUDIO: Well, when they took my mother, I — we all —- we were all very sad. And, well, we all thought it wasn’t fair, because we didn’t have our mother. And right now, we think it’s still not fair, because now we don’t have our mother or our father.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Mariano Espinoza, the government’s reason for deporting her and your decision to come to Washington to appeal to Obama, could you talk about that?
MARIANO ESPINOZA: Yes. This family reflects the bad policies that we have in place. Guadalupe was a legal resident in this country and, the day she was trying to become a permanent resident of the United States, was detained. And five days later, she was deported. Just like -—
AMY GOODMAN: She had actually gone to the immigration office?
MARIANO ESPINOZA: Yes, on November the 5th in 2008, she went to the immigration offices. And five days later, again, she was deported from this country.
JUAN GONZALEZ: So, if she was a legal resident, what reason was it that they deported her?
MARIANO ESPINOZA: In 2009, her mother was sick in Mexico from a heart attack, so she went to immigration offices to ask a permit to leave the country temporarily, because she needed to be with her mom. And the permit was denied. So she took the decision to leave the country and come back without authorization. She was detained on the border and then deported. She re-entered the country, but later in 2008, ICE and the immigration offices in Michigan authorized the employment authorization card to work in the country, and they also issued a Social Security to be able to work in this country.
AMY GOODMAN: Gerardo, you have, and your — you and your brother have written a letter to President Obama? Have you brought it with you?
GERARDO ZAMUDIO: We did not bring it with us, but we did.
AMY GOODMAN: And what did you tell him in that letter?
GERARDO ZAMUDIO: Well, I still remember what we wrote. I wrote, “Dear President Obama, I would like you to help us with our case, because we need our mother back in the United States.” And I wrote, “Because we were living in a house that was just too in bad conditions for us to live, because it was falling, and in Mexico, us, the United States citizens had no rights to medical care or anything.” So we were like, “We had no rights in Mexico, because we were United States citizens.” We wrote all that. We told him the conditions that we were all in.
And we never got a chance — we delivered them to the — in the mail, we delivered them to them, and we haven’t received anything back. And we wanted to deliver them directly to the President, but we never had a chance to see him.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Mariano Espinoza, we just have a few seconds left. Could you tell us how extensive is this problem of children being separated when their parents are being deported or face deportation?
MARIANO ESPINOZA: Well, this is a difficult problem for not just us, but for this country. When we have this opportunity [inaudible] America, we have to make sure that Gerardo is reunited with his mom. Children are affected psychologically, and a lot of times they are not — they don’t have the tools to succeed today. Gerardo went to Mexico, and now he’s back here in this country. And he’s going to probably miss the school year. This is unfair, and this is also, at the same time, the opportunity to bring families together. This is our opportunity to —
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. We thank you so much, Mariano Espinoza and Gerardo Zamudio.