Split between Mexico and Missouri: A deportation tears a family apart

Six years earlier, police pulled Stegall over a few blocks from her house and charged her with misdemeanor drunken driving. The arrest made authorities aware that she was in the U.S. illegally. Stegall spent a month in jail and her case went into the immigration system.

Stegall cried at her computer after talking to her daughter. She sees that she is paying the price for her mistake but is also convinced that her deportation was unfair.

She wonders why the government’s crackdown efforts seem to focus on her and other low-level criminals instead of the “bad hombres” that Trump said he’d banish. “They didn’t take out the people who are dangerous,” says Stegall, 41. “The murderers are still there. The gangsters are still there. The rapists are still there.”

Stegall didn’t apply for a green card after getting married because her former attorney told her she had little to worry about with a citizen husband and daughter and because, under U.S. law, she likely would have had to return to Mexico and wait out the process there.

Four days after her February arrest, Stegall won a stay of deportation in court pending a hearing. But ICE already had her shackled aboard a flight to Brownsville, Texas, where she was directed to cross by foot back into Mexico. Her family, relieved by the victory in court, didn’t even know she was gone.