Despite being reunited, migrant families in Mississippi face legal, financial hurdles


JACKSON, Mississippi (WJTV) ⁠— This week marks two months since the largest single-state illegal immigration crackdown took place in Mississippi. Even as hundreds of the detainees are being released on bond their legal battle is far from over.

For 12 years, Madgelena Pedro-Mateo and her significant other have lived in the United States, where all three of their kids were born, but with their immigration status being illegal to current laws their future is still uncertain.

For two straight months, Pedro-Mateo says she prayed non-stop in a Louisiana detention cell until she finally learned she could come home to her children.

Madgelena Pedro-Mateo and her three daughters.

“I’m happy because I saw my husband and kids with my family,” Pedro-Mateo said. “And like I said, it’s not easy to get out of there.”

With the help of her oldest daughter translating, she described why she fled her home country Guatemala, where she says there is little food and no jobs. So she came to America the way she did for a better life.

“If they took her to Guatemala she would feel sad,” daughter Diana Pedro-Megia said. “Because she has no family there. We have to work a lot of jobs to get money to get her out and now she’s out.”

“There is emotional trauma that is being caused,” immigration legal expert Dalila Reynoso stated. “Like the oldest daughter once made a statement to me that said it’s nothing like having mom around.”

Cellphone video captured the moment Pedro-Mateo was able to hold her three girls for the first time since the first week of August, putting a smile back on her girls’ faces.

“I was like excited and screamed,” Pedro-Megia said. “I was about to cry but I was nervous.”

Despite being back together, the family now faces a new challenge keeping their children fed relying on donated food and funds from churches to pay rent until Madgelena awaits her next trial to fight for a work permit.

“She was sad because we didn’t have any money to pay bills and she is worried,” Pedro-Megia told us.

“Churches, and community members to provide that financial support that they need,” Reynoso explained. “We do have a go fund me, they’re going to have to rely on community members, church members, or churches.”

Pedro-Mateo’s bond was set at $10,000 when she was released. She’ll be due back in court in the last week of October and it’s unclear at this time what specific charges she’ll face and how many more detainees have yet to be released after their first hearing.

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