Mary Sanchez

Kansas City family’s heartbreak reflects broken immigration system

Updated: 2014-02-05T01:44:12Z


The Kansas City Star

On Friday, the U.S. government booted a patriarch of the American dream back across the border.

Josue Sandoval left his wife, a 12-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son in Kansas City. His story is not unique.

He had no money, no extra clothes, just his wedding ring, a copy of an identification card and a cell phone when he was loaded onto a plane and flown into Texas, then bused to Reynosa just south of the U.S.-Mexico border. He spent night in the bus station, hunkered down as gunfire could be heard.

When politicians talk about our broken immigration system, this is part of what they mean. Children who are legal, a parent who isn’t and now, a family separated.

The Sandovals were the focus of rallies and prayers last week organized by Communities Creating Opportunity. The goal was to draw attention to the father’s plight and raise awareness for immigration reform. Local clergy vouched for the father’s character to immigration officials.

On Sunday, the family kept with routine, attending mass at St. Anthony parish in the Northeast. Rev. Paul Turner told the congregation the news, including the family in extra blessings.

The prayers came about two hours after Rep. Paul Ryan took to the Sunday morning talk shows to reiterate tired lines. He predicted that reform won’t pass this year. And that the GOP will agree to nothing until “the border is secure.” Continued inaction will be a further cruelty for the Sandoval children.

Daughter Nayelli loves basketball. She’s a forward for her team and has a dozen medals proving her value on the court. Son Erik favors football. He works part-time and is thinking how his salary can help cover the missing family income without Dad.

Many will say Sandoval should have come legally to the U.S. Of course, that is always preferred. He once paid $8,000 for legal status and documents, but it turned out to be a scam.

Gaining legal status is not so simple as signing the right forms, paying a fee or waiting in a line of applicants. A legal pathway simply doesn’t exist for most lower-skilled people from Mexico who lack a very close U.S. citizen relative.

Why do people risk it anyway?

Sandoval and his wife came to the U.S. in 1998 as a young couple with a toddler son. Relatives lived in Kansas City. They decided to leave overcrowded and crime-ridden Mexico City to chase opportunity for their family’s future.

To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send email to

Deal Saver Subscribe today!


The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Kansas City Star uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here