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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

I came to America because I'm a Christian. Then they took my son

Immigrant families seeking asylum walk to a respite center after they were processed and released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Friday, June 29, 2018, in McAllen, Texas.
AP Photo/Eric Gay
Immigrant families seeking asylum walk to a respite center after they were processed and released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Friday, June 29, 2018, in McAllen, Texas.

A mom and her 7-year-old son traveled to the U.S. from Guatemala. She is currently at the federal detention in SeaTac. This is her story, as told to Liz Jones. Translated from Spanish.

He likes playing ball.

He likes scrambled eggs with whole beans.

He likes his milk warm.

He’s caring, and he likes to give me kisses.

I haven’t talked to him since they separated us.

I ask about him, but they don’t tell me anything. They give me numbers, and I call them, but the call doesn’t go through.

I am Christian. That’s why I came here. In Guatemala, I went to an evangelical church, and my husband didn’t like that. He said he didn’t like evangelicals. He said I had to go to the Catholic church with him. He hit us really badly.

I came here alone with my son. I came here to save him, so that he would not continue to suffer.

We asked for rides to the border, and everything went well on the trip. After eight days, we were there. I asked people how to get across, and they told me.

We crossed the river on a raft. We had to throw a lot of our clothes away. I put two pairs of pants on my son, one black and one blue, three shirts and then a jacket over the top. I didn’t want him to be without clothes when we got to the other side. I didn’t know they would just take him away.

When we entered the country, we turned ourselves into immigration. They took us to a cold room and gave us an aluminum blanket. We slept on the floor.

I tried to cover my son really well and held him close to keep him warm, but he didn’t sleep very well.

They gave us a little juice and bread with frozen ham. Twice a day, they gave us that bread with frozen ham. It was tough.

He said, “Mama, when are we going to get out of here?”

“Very soon, son,” I said. “We’ll get out of here.”

“I don’t want to go back to Guatemala,” he said. “My daddy is very bad to me, and very bad to you, too, Mama.”

And then they took him away from me. They didn’t explain. They didn’t tell me anything.

[asset-images[{"caption": "The federal prison at SeaTac where 177 women seeking asylum were jailed last month. About half of those women were taken from their children at the border. The children were between 3 and 16 years. ", "fid": "145262", "style": "placed_wide", "uri": "public://201806/Berman_06092018_KUOW_DetentionSeaTac11.JPG", "attribution": "Credit Daniel Berman for KUOW"}]]One dad didn’t want to give his son up. They took him from his hands. Two officials grabbed him. I told my son to stay still, so that if they grabbed him, they wouldn’t hurt him.

They took the kids to one side. My son stayed with a little boy and a little girl. The little girl hugged my son, and my son cried.

What these people are doing is not right. They say they take care of the kids, but this is no way to take care of kids. They’re causing a trauma. The children think they’ve been abandoned.

The president did this kidnapping of children. What did we do for them to take our kids away? We only came here to fight for our life.

Jesus. My God.

There are a lot of mothers here who cry. You should hear how they cry.

But we’re okay here. In the other three detention centers we passed through, they treated us badly. They yelled at us a lot. Thank God, here in Washington, they are treating us very well. They give us food, they are taking care of us. We’ve gone to the doctor, they’ve checked our eyes and our lungs. I have nothing bad to say about this place.

We saw on the television that people were protesting outside, that they’re uniting for us. And we know the president signed something to get our kids back. We’re not going to be able to pay those people back, but God will repay them.

I’m asking God for forgiveness, I can’t imagine what’s going to happen to us. I ask that God touches the hearts of these people to give our children back. Because our children are suffering so much.

This interview was edited for clarity and length.

Year started with KUOW: 2006