Columbia, Missouri – Liliana* talks with her internet company on the phone one night after her connection was terminated. She was unable to pay the bill because her husband, the source of more than half of her family’s income, was deported back to Mexico a few weeks earlier.
She needed access to the internet for an online class she was taking, and she needed to take the class because her immigration status depended on it. If she wasn’t enrolled in an educational programme, she would lose her right to temporarily remain in the country under the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals policy.
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Liliana, 28, is a “Dreamer”, raised in the United States but brought to the country illegally from Mexico when she was only two. She didn’t know that she was undocumented until she tried applying for college after graduating at the top of her high-school class, and her parents told her she didn’t have the necessary papers.
In late 2014, while many undocumented migrants celebrated President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, Liliana, a mother of two US-born children, was circumspect.
She could only see it as a temporary reprieve. The next president could come into office and undo all the progress she felt she and others had made.
Will there be a giant wall built along the southern border? Will the increasing anti-immigrant rhetoric lead to further changes to the law? Will she be able to stay in the only country she’s ever known? These are all questions she now asks herself.
But her greatest fear is being deported and having to decide whether to split her family, so that her children, who are US citizens, can be raised in the US and afforded the opportunities that allows them, or risk taking them back to Mexico with her, where she worries about what their futures will entail.
If she were ever granted full legal status, she says the first thing she would do is apply for college.
*Not her real name
Greg Kendall-Ball is an independent photojournalist based in Washington, DC.