Ulises Guerrero sometimes feels lost, desperate and simply defeated.
After being caught in an immigration raid at Micro Solutions Enterprises in Van Nuys along with 137 others in February of 2008, the 35-year-old has been fighting to remain in the United States.
Two years ago Guerrero received a deportation order, which he appealed. In July he married his wife, Sandra Zamorano, a U.S. citizen, who filed a petition for him with immigration authorities.
But that process could take up to a year, and on Dec. 3 Guerrero must appear in immigration court to deal with his deportation order. The judge can either grant him a permit to stay in the country while his wife’s petition is considered, or send Guerrero back to Mexico to await the decision there.
Now Guerrero’s wife and mother of his two-year-old son Isaac, who’s been praying for a miracle so that her husband remains in the country, will appeal directly to someone she hopes will take those prayers to a higher power — in heaven and on earth.
Zamorano is one of 19 people (13 adults and six children whose parents are undocumented) traveling to Washington, D.C. for Pope Francis’s speech before Congress. It will be the pope’s first trip to the United States. He is expected to talk about immigration, and a delegation is being organized by several immigration advocacy groups.
Pope Francis will arrive in the U.S. on Sept. 22. A day later he will have a personal meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House, and on Sept. 24 he will speak to a Joint Session of Congress before heading on to New York and Philadelphia.
“I’m going to support and represent [Guerrero], my parents and all the rest of the people who don’t have papers,” said Zamorano, who lives in Pacoima.
Her parents, a Salvadoran mother and a Chilean father who’ve lived in the United States for more than 20 years, are also undocumented.
Her parents and husband would have benefited from the Deferred Action for Parents Accountability (DAPA), one of the immigration programs announced by President Obama in November of 2014. But a lawsuit brought by 26 states in federal court has stalled the executive order while the government appeals the stay placed on it by a judge in Texas.
That legal fight could last for several years.
Zamora hopes the Pope can hear their pleas, and Congress can be petitioned to again pursue immigration reform. The delegation does not have a scheduled meeting with the pope, but will be in the chambers when Francis speaks before the federal legislators.
“Just as [Francis] was an immigrant, we hope he can talk to (the Congressmen) and soften their hearts,” said Zamorano, who will be accompanied on the trip by her younger sister Angela, 12.
All of the participants had to pay their way to Washington, D.C.
“My husband sold food and raised $320. I was selling my son’s toys and baby clothes online and raised $220,” she said. That covered their airfare; they’re still trying to cover the costs of food and lodging.
The family has also pulled resources together to pay for Angela’s trip.
An Important Fight
Zamorano won’t give up. She says going to Washington, D.C. is a way to fight for her husband and parents.
“It’s very difficult (to be facing this). When I think about him (Guerrero) not being here, if he was deported, I don’t know what I would do,” she said.
“He’s the main provider for the house. I don’t want anything to happen to him. I don’t know if I would go with him or if I would stay because I want my son to grow up in his country.”
Guerrero, who entered the U.S. with a tourist visa in 2002, had never been in trouble with the law prior to the immigration raid. He’s already paid more than $4,000 to a lawyer who represents him, and his appeal could cost $1,000 more.
“We, as U.S. citizens, have to fight so that undocumented people come out of the shadows. We have to represent them and be their voice,” Zamorano said.