A Washington State woman with three young children will be deported and separated from her three daughters.
Marysville resident Bernada Pineda said she has no criminal history and thought she was walking into a regular check-in meeting with Department of Homeland Security officials. Instead, she left the meeting with a deportation order to return to Honduras within a month.
One of her three daughters attends Kellogg Marsh Elementary. When 9-year-old Stacey Alverado-Pineda told her teacher what was happening, the teacher decided she had to take action.
Pineda has three daughters – Sherly, 14, Sheyla, 11, and Stacey, 9.
“They’re my kids, it’s hard for me,” Pineda said.
After 12 years in the U.S., they’ll only have a dozen more nights together.
“She’s leaving in a week. She has a week, maybe a week and a half,” Sherly said. Her mom’s one-way ticket to Honduras is booked for March 20.
Pineda came to the U.S. illegally in 2006 from Honduras, fleeing a country rife with poverty and violence. She came here to find a better life.
Since then, she’s regularly met with immigration officials. Her next meeting, was supposed to be in April, but she received a letter asking to meet earlier “to discuss your immigration case,” it read.
“We didn’t think anything was going to happen. We thought it was an early check-in,” Sherly said.
The family said an immigration officer handed her a letter that said her request for a stay of removal was denied and she had to leave or be deported.
Sherly had to translate for her mother so she could understand what was happening during the meeting.
“I was in shock,” Pineda said.
“I had to buy my own ticket. If I don’t do it, I have to go to the jail,” Pineda said.
She bought the one-way ticket back to a country she no longer knows.
At that meeting, Pineda also was required to wear a GPS ankle bracelet.
“They don’t explain nothing, they only say we have to put on the bracelet,” Pineda said. “I am not a criminal.”
The day after the meeting with immigration officials, Stacey went to school upset.
“Her lip was quivering, she was really stressed out,” said Barbara McKinney, who teaches third grade at Kellogg Marsh Elementary. “All I could do was put my arms around her and hold her.”
That’s when she decided to help.
She started a GoFundMe to help with legal fees and costs of moving the girls to Chicago to stay with other family – who are already under hardship.
“This family is being ripped apart, destroyed really. And for what? I don’t understand what could be more important than this family staying together,” McKinney said.
A letter from Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials reads “Although I am sympathetic to the emotional and financial hardships associated with this case, they do not rise to the level of exceptional when compared to other persons and families similarly situated.”
The letter ends with, “Please note, that this decision is final, and no appeal is permitted.”
McKinney is helping the family find a new attorney to look for other options that will help keep Pineda with her daughters in the United States.