With an American husband and US-born daughter, Letty Stegall thought she was immune from deportation. Now, she sits in Mexico.... phones & a laptop her only connection to her former life. COMING UP on @KPBSnews #EveningEdition: How Deportations Take Toll on Mixed-Status Families pic.twitter.com/N1kuAJKJYk— Kris Vera-Phillips (@queenkv) July 23, 2018
Many Americans voted for President Donald Trump in 2016 because they relied on his promises of bringing back jobs to the U.S. and fair trade with China. Now, following his inhumane immigration policies, many have come to regret their support.
One such supporter is Shirley Stegall.
She voted for Trump in 2016 but was forced to rethink her choice after her daughter-in-law, Letty Stegall, was deported to Mexico.
“I’ve always been proud to be an American,” she said. “But now I’m ashamed.”
Many of the Stegall family’s acquaintances have shown their support for the deported woman; however, they still continue to defend Trump.
Steve Stegall, Letty’s husband, cannot stand the hypocrisy.
“He’s destroying American lives,” Steve said of the president. “How can you do this? How can you do this to your own American people?”
The Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants has taken a toll on mixed families across America.
Letty entered to the United Sates as an undocumented immigrant in 1999. She has an American citizen husband and a 17-year-old daughter who is also a U.S. citizen.
She soon got married after she came into the U.S. She had her daughter, Jennifer, but her marriage did not work out. She later met Kansas native Steve, who came to love her and Jennifer as his own.
Now, for Letty, her mobile screen and an unreliable internet connection remain the only source that connects her to her life in Kansas.
When Trump became president, Letty feared she would be asked to return but she did not think she would ever be targeted. She was not a criminal after all and she had made a life in the United States — learning the language, paying her taxes and owning a small bar.
“They didn’t take out the people who are dangerous,” she said. “The murderers are still there. The gangsters are still there. The rapists are still there.”
The Mexican native was entered into the immigration system six years prior, after she was arrested for a drunken driving misdemeanor. She spent a month in jail and her case was forwarded into the system.
She was backing out of a driveway on Feb. 26 when three cars surrounded her. ICE agents hopped out of the vehicles and told her she was under arrest. Letty offered them her Social Security card, her work permit and her driving license, which she carried everywhere — but to no avail.
“I’m married to an American citizen,” she pleaded. “I have a citizen daughter.”
After her arrest, Letty was shacked and put on a flight to Texas, despite winning stay of deportation in court pending a hearing. She was made to cross over into Mexico by foot — all the while her family was never made aware of her deportation.
Jennifer cried as she talked about her mother. Steve has been suffering from depression.
“We were best friends,” he said. “When somebody gets yanked away from you one day, it’s just a huge hole in your life. You don’t have her to come home to ... just seeing her around the house, hearing her laughing, you know? Watching her smile.”
The Stegalls’ story is one of numerous heart-wrenching tales of biracial U.S. families who have been facing the brunt of the Trump administration’s hard-lining policies on immigration.
What used to be colorful four-dimensional world for Letty has now been reduced to digitized flat screen.
Banner / Thumbnail : REUTERS, Kevin Coombs