A Mother, Her Son the Military and a Path to Citizenship

This once undocumented mother had no idea that she could attend her son's military graduation, and obtain her residency by doing so
A Mother, Her Son the Military and a Path to Citizenship
Fabiola Mendoza, una madre indocumentada podrá arreglar su estatus migratorio a través de Alan Mendoza, su hijo recién graduado como miembro de la Marina de Estados Unidos. (Cortesía Aída Escobar y Alex Galvez).

When Fabiola Jimenez, a Mexican undocumented immigrant, left Utah to move to San Diego to see if, by any miracle, she could attend her son Alan’s graduation as a member of the US Navy, it never crossed her mind that she could be very close to achieve her dream of permanent residency.

“I went with my three children. The plan was to stay in Los Angeles, and let them go alone because I did not want to expose myself to being stopped at any checkpoint when coming back. I did not know if I was at risk at the Navy facilities,” says 45-year-old Fabiola.

It was a bittersweet feeling that day. She was happy for her son, but also a great fea overpowered her; that of the danger of being arrested. Her own children were very concerned. It was the first time in more than 23 years, after she arrived from Veracruz, Mexico, that she left Utah.

Check Points

“My four children, Alan Mendoza, 22, Rodolfo, 17, and twins Fernando and Fabian, 15, were born in the United States,” says the single mother who is no longer in a relationship with the father of her children.

“I did not know what to do. I could not sleep. I cried because I wanted to be with my son. I am very brave but I decided to stay in Los Angeles, and let my three children go to the graduation by themselves. I was going to risk a lot if I was stopped by immigration authorities and they deported me: my family, my job of 20 years cleaning offices. I am now the manager of the company, and I’m paying my house,” she says.

Being in Los Angeles, she had the idea of calling the Show del Piolin, led by Eddie Sotelo, and told her story.

They contacted the immigration lawyer, Alex Galvez. The expert offered to take her to the graduation.

“I used an identification card that Utah grants to people who do not have papers, and I did not have any problem,” says Fabiola.

This mother says that when her son Alan was marching and saw her out of the corner of his eye, tears came to his eyes. “I was so excited, nervous, I felt my heart warm and I even thought something was going to happen. My children ran to embrace me,” she says.

Alan Mendoza says that seeing his mother made him very happy, but he was also surprised.

“The only thing going through my mind was how we were going to return to Utah without having any problem,” he says.

Relief for Military Families

Galvez told the children that, if they detained their mother, he would help with her release with no problem, but that wasn’t it. Since Alan was part of the Navy, he explained that their mother qualified to obtain residency without having to leave the country, no need for forgiveness.

“I still cannot believe it,” says Fabiola excitedly. “I behaved very well in these more than 23 years that I’ve been in the country. I’m not a criminal. I have a clean record. In 13 years of driving I’ve only had a ticket,” she says.

Galvez said that in six or seven months, Fabiola Jimenez can obtain residency under the Parole in Place (PIP), which provides for family like undocumented parents who have children who are active citizens in the Army, are already retired with honors, are reservists or are in the National Guard. It is also for spouses, parents and children of veterans.

“With the advantage of not having to leave the country and face the ten-year punishment ten or asking for pardon”, he says.

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