Family Forced to Abandon the US in Order to Be Together

The Ortega family is one of a growing number of American families who are forced to abandon their lives in the U.S. to stay together. ICE reports that 45,000 parents of American citizen children were deported in the first half of 2012. Human Rights Watch estimates that 1.6 million people in the United States were separated from a deported spouse or parent between 1997 and 2007.

New America Media, News Report, Beth Caldwell and Joel Medina, Posted: Nov 27, 2012
Rodrigo Ortega, 35, lives in Rosarito, Mexico with his American wife and two American-citizen children. A little over a year ago, Ortega was deported. Since then, his wife and kids have relocated to Mexico in order to be with him.

He wishes that his kids, now 3 and 7 years old, could attend school in the U.S. He wanted to continue providing them with the kind of life they were accustomed to in California, complete with hot showers and the occasional hamburger.

“We’re living day to day now,” Ortega explained in a recent interview. “I want to give my kids a better life than this. I can’t even buy them a Whopper because it’s kind of expensive and I can’t afford it.”
Today, he works as a security guard in a Mexican shopping center occupied by American companies like Walmart and Applebee’s, earning roughly $100 for a 72 hour work-week. That breaks down to less than $1.50 per hour.

In the United States, Ortega earned $600 to $700 per week doing agricultural work in California’s San Joaquin valley.

The Ortega family is one of a growing number of American families who are forced to abandon their lives in the U.S. to stay together. ICE reports that 45,000 parents of American citizen children were deported in the first half of 2012. Human Rights Watch estimates that 1.6 million people in the United States were separated from a deported spouse or parent between 1997 and 2007.

The decision to move wasn’t easy. But after Ortega was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for the crime of illegally re-entering the United States, the family decided it wasn’t worth it to remain in the United States.

Rodrigo’s wife had never been to Mexico, but he faced a long prison sentence if caught trying to illegally re-enter again. “It’s better for me to be with my kids than to go back to prison,” he said.

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