An immigrant family separated for more than a decade because of the nation's deportation laws is fighting not against the system, but against the negative stigma of immigrants.
Jazmin Zaragoza's mother was taken from her in an instant, deported to Mexico for violating a previous deportation sentence.
But now, the mother has served her time, and Jazmin is doing whatever it takes to reunite her family.
Its been nearly 11 years since the family of six has lived together under one roof. Nearly 11 years since the family felt whole.
Pictures of past holidays and family gatherings hold a deeper meaning. At the surface they show memories of a happy life, but look deeper and they bring back pain.
Jazmin remembers the day that tore her family apart, separating them between borders.
"I didn't know what the word deported meant, but from their faces I knew that it was bad," Jazmin said. "And I remember I started crying and it wasn't until [my mom] looked at me that she began to cry too."
Jazmin's family had followed the rules. Her father, a U.S. citizen, married a woman in Mexico and began a family.
Because of the harsh living conditions there, Jazmin's father went back to the states to begin work, leaving his family behind
But, when he became injured and unable to work, Jazmin's mother decided it was time to be brave and join her husband in the U.S. She would cross illegally.
"You do remember when you're trying to cross and all that stuff," Jazmin said. "She would come back with her bloody, her clothes torn, that whole mess trying to walk through the desert."
The journey was a success and would eventually reunite the family of three for six years, allowing them to add two new additions, brothers for Jazmin.
But their American dream would soon come to abrupt end.
"We were just waiting for an interview to see if we would become legal permanent residents through [my dad] being the wife and daughter of a legal permanent resident."
But the meeting took a terrible turn. Jazmin was granted citizenship along with her brothers, but her mom was taken away in handcuffs, never to return again.
Jazmin's mother had violated a previous deportation sentence because of what she said was a language barrier, which affected her citizenship.
Now, she's fighting to make her way back to the state's, this time following the law.
"To be permanently barred from coming back and being with her family who are all American citizens," Jazmin said. "I would think that's a little too extreme."
Jazmin's mother's record is now clean, but she feels as though shes being treated as a criminal.
"I would think that would be a punishment reserved for the murderers and the people out there who do bad things."
Jazmin said it's the stigma associated with immigrants who commit crimes that make it hard for her family to be reunited.
She said moving back to Mexico to reunite the family isn't an option. It's too dangerous, which is why they left in the first place.
Now, the family is reaching out to Sen. Inholfe to see if he can help with their mother's case.
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