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Voices of mixed-status families

In part three of our “Border Patrol” series on immigration policies, we meet the family of Alfonso Martinez Sanchez, a 39-year-old father of five American children (above, Alfonso with his wife, Juana, and children).

Alfonso was deported from Vista, California after a sheriff’s deputy asked him for his identification at a local convenience store. He subsequently died trying to reenter the United States through the desert.

Below, a series of audio recordings by Cindy Huang of PBS NewsHour, who spoke with five families struggling with the realities of U.S. immigration law.

Huang writes:

Families living in the shadows. Struggling with separation. Being forced to leave the United States.

These are the stories of mixed-status families, where one spouse is a U.S. citizen and the other lacks status. These families told the PBS NewsHour how immigration policy drastically altered their lives as lawmakers begin consideration of a comprehensive measure to overhaul the current system.

Erika Orrantia by PBSNewsHour

Erika Orrantia’s husband was issued a lifetime bar from the U.S. with no chance for a waiver because he made a false claim to citizenship when he was 23 years old.

Crystal Mendez by PBSNewsHour

Crystal Mendez’s husband is barred from the U.S. for 10 years for living in the country illegally for more than a year.

Melissa Watkins by PBSNewsHour

Melissa Watkins’ husband was deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Both U.S. citizens, Watkins and her daughter moved to Mexico City to be with him as he completes his 10-year bar.

Cher Orlanda by PBSNewsHour

U.S. citizen Cher Orlanda lives in Portsmouth, Va., with her children. Her husband is currently barred for 10 years and lives in Mexico.

Lance Paxton by PBSNewsHour

U.S. citizen Lance Paxton lives in Shelby Township, Mich. His wife lives in Mexico with their children. She is serving a lifetime ban for making a false claim to citizenship.