Esperanza, The high cost of deportation
Commissioned work for The Marshall project with text by Julia Preston with Andrew Calderon
In November 2017, Esperanza Pacheco went to the ICE office in Cleveland for regular registration. She never left. A week later, ICE left her in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. "We never had to say goodbye, nothing," said Thalia Moctezuma, her American daughter who was 18 and a high school student at the time. "If they are taking away a child's mother, the child should at least hug her. The city of Painesville, in northeastern Ohio, where Pacheco lived, has been an epicenter of enforcement under Trump. Immigrants, mainly from Mexico, were drawn to the city in the 1990s, and today 28 percent of the population is Hispanic, census figures show. Since 2017, ICE has been tracking undocumented people in the city and canceling deportation stays, which has led to dozens of deportations. Pacheco was one of HOLA's most visible activists, a lively woman with a contagious laugh. She is one of 14 children of a Mexican bracero farm worker who became a U.S. citizen years ago. She applied for citizenship for her children and all were approved. But due to bureaucratic errors and delays, Pacheco's naturalization never took place. "When Mom was here, she was cooking, talking, everything was fine," Eusebio said. "I thought it was okay to handle my daughters. But now I find out that they need Mom around here. Esperanza landed in an apartment in her former hometown of Leon, in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. She tries to comfort her husband and raise her children on WhatsApp, sending them messages throughout the day. For her daughters, it's not the same. "In our house, I feel that environment where it's cold, it's just dark," Thalia said. "It feels like a place but not a home. Not long after Pacheco's deportation, children in the girls' schools were made fun of. "They started saying, your mother is illegal, you should have gone back to Mexico, you're not really from here," Eusebio said. Because of these comments and their mother's remoteness, two of his daughters have attempted suicide.