Caring for the children of the deported

By Guillermo Rojas and Victoria Lis Marino | Tulsa, OK

The immigrant community in Tulsa is having a hard time, just like in the rest of the country, with fear and uncertainty the constant companions of those 12 million people that are still outcast from the system, waiting for the tide to change, for better or for worse. Mothers and fathers leave their children at school every morning without knowing if they will be able to pick them up, if they will be stopped after a traffic offense and be deported forever.

The possibility of a catastrophe, implies, for a lot of people, the draft of an eventual plan, a strategy to assure the fate of those left behind: the children. Parents can sign documents attesting they have entrusted the legal custody of their kids to a designated person. But assuming that role – taking care of children who are not ours- is a hard job, one as uncertain as the immigration policy behind the whole scheme.

Sandra Ludo is Mexican by birth and has been living in the USA for the last 28 years. In Tulsa she works at a junior high school, where she had the chance of meeting dozens of families in despair. Today, Sandra has signed three documents that bestow her with the potential care of the children of three different couples at risk of deportation. At any minute Sandra can become the mother of almost 10 children and that makes her afraid.

“It gives me a chill to think about it, but I know that with the help of God we will be alright,” she told La Semana.

“Signing the documents is easy, I am being given the authority of taking care of the children if the parents are deported, but for me to accept this duty, certain conditions must be met. The children need to have updated passports, and parents must have a certain amount of savings for travel expenses, and food, because when things go wrong one cannot know for how long they will stay the same.”

The idea of becoming a caretaker in times of trouble arose back in 2006 when Sandra’s sister and brother in law were deported and she had to take care of her nephews.

Sandra Ludo

“It wasn’t that hard because the kids were on holiday, but the situation was stressful and traumatic,” Sandra recalled.

Even though it’s an enormous burden and an indescribable responsibility, Sandra is willing to do this again. She does not want to be compensated, she only wants parents to think ahead and save for rainy days, so that their children are taken care of.

“I always say to my friends, save money and have your papers in order, help me help you,” she said. “I give my help wholeheartedly, but I also scold the parents, I tell them: Think about every move you make because you cannot leave me alone with this burden. We are talking about little children.”

Aiding foster children is a difficult endeavor, but Sandra lives up to her promise and moves ahead, asking the parents to take care of themselves so that her guardianship remains what it is today, a piece of paper.

“I feel blessed because God gave me the will to help,” she said. “I would do it, even without a legal document, but parents must remember this message: Be responsible, drive safely, do it for the sake of your children, be wise.” (La Semana)