Exiled to Mexico and America

By: Daniel Nardini

Recently, I saw a short documentary entitled “Exiled in America” by Angela Torres Camarena. The film talks about the struggles of the Santibanez family in Arizona and their efforts to cope without their mother Sergia Santibanez. In 2007, Sergia was deported from the United States for “smuggling in illegal aliens.” In truth, she was transporting friends in a car when she got into an accident. Because of their immigration status, Sergia was jailed, held in a detention center and then deported. No effort was made to determine whether she knowingly tried to transport illegal aliens, and in fact she never had a day in court.

But the current immigration system allows for U.S. immigration officials to reclassify people from misdemeaners to felonies and also put in for a motion of deportation—especially if they are not U.S. citizens. There is no real evidence that she intended to do anything illegal. Sergia Santibanez was a legal permanent resident at the time and had lived in the United States for 25 years. She also has five children. The fact that the U.S. government did not make any motion to allow her to stay in this country on humanitarian grounds due to the hardship of her children—all U.S. citizens—speaks volumes about the way U.S. immigration is today. Currently, Sergia is in Mexico and her children are in the U.S. Sergia Santibanez wanted her children to stay in the United States to get a better education and live a better quality of life.

At the time this film was made the year was 2009. Sadly, nothing seems to have changed for the Santibanez family. They are still without their mother and father (who was previously deported before their mother). But then this family is not the only case. There are a couple of million families who for some reason or another are separated by the U.S. immigration system for very arbitrary reasons. It is a sad and tragic reality that the politicians in Washington, D.C. seem to have little interest in trying to deal with trying to bring families back together. For families like the Santibanez family, they struggle as best separated families can. For my readers, I recommend seeing the documentary “Exiled in America.”

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