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Stories of Immigration and Deportation – Leticia

PHOTO: Leticia Reta is an undocumented immigrant living in the United States. She says for many years she was married to a man who beat her, but was afraid to leave because he threatened to have her deported. PHOTO courtesy of Reta.
PHOTO: Leticia Reta is an undocumented immigrant living in the United States. She says for many years she was married to a man who beat her, but was afraid to leave because he threatened to have her deported. PHOTO courtesy of Reta.
August 30, 2013

PHOENIX – Behind all the immigration debates and statistics are real people, including men and women who stay in abusive relationships because they're afraid of being deported.

Leticia Reta used to be one of those women, but not any more.

Reta came to the U.S. two decades ago, and for years was married to a man who beat her.

She says he threatened to have her deported and her children put in foster care.

Tired of being abused and feeling frightened all the time, Reta finally obtained a divorce, and now she's speaking out, no longer willing to live in the shadows and not be heard.

"There is so many woman,” she says, ‘they're in my same situation, and they're afraid to speak. I know probably is going to have consequences. But I'm ready to deal with the consequences."

Reta says she is now vulnerable to deportation because she has no documents and no way to apply for them under current law.

Congress is considering immigration reform, but including a path to citizenship faces considerable opposition.

Reta says it took two years to get her divorce. She says she started the process at the urging of an employer, a woman whose house she was cleaning who saw her injuries and convinced her to go to court for a protective order.

"I was working and she said, 'Leticia, what happened to your hands?'” Reta relates. “And I said, 'Nothing, I just fell.' She saw my bruises in parts of the body, and she was so terrified."

The Pew Center estimates there are 400,000 undocumented immigrants in Arizona, accounting for 6 percent of the population, and 7.4 percent of the workforce.

Reta says she feels devoted to her adopted homeland and sometimes wants to cry when she hears the national anthem at her children's school events.

She wants her children to go to college, and she wants to start her own business, but she's afraid that her immigration status might get in the way.

"I've been cleaning houses for the last 12 years,” she says, “and I want to have a company, I want to be registered.

“Even if I was not born here, I feel American. I feel like part of this big country with big dreams."


Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ