Photograph by Michele Asselin for TIME
TIME Immigration

Bye Dad, I Love You

undocumented immigrants America U.S. immigration policy families family
Michele Asselin for TIME Estefania was just 7 months old when her father was deported last spring.

America's immigration policy is splitting families and spreading fear

Just before 7:30 one Friday morning last March, Alejandro said goodbye to his wife Maria and his two small daughters and headed off to work. He didn’t make it far. Four blocks from his home near Bakersfield, Calif., two unmarked vehicles, a white Honda and a green Mazda pickup truck, pulled up behind him at a stop sign. Plain-clothes Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents spilled out. They wore vests emblazoned with the word Police.

Alejandro dialed Maria from his cell phone and told her what was happening. Her heart dropped. She said later that she knew it wouldn’t matter that Alejandro had no criminal record, not even a speeding ticket. Or that he’d driven these same roads every day for the past decade, picking grapes, pistachios and oranges in California’s Central Valley. Since 2006, when Alejandro overstayed his visa, he had been considered a “fugitive alien,” in ICE parlance, and therefore subject to immediate deportation to Mexico. Now he was arrested on the spot.

To read the full story, click here.


This appears in the March 19, 2018 issue of TIME.

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