And on the last day, Godoy awoke next to her boyfriend in their Richmond apartment and confessed she had all but given up hope.
“There’s no time,” she told him. “We need a miracle now.”
Godoy had thought she might be given a last-minute reprieve based on the government’s new deportation guidelines, which were put into place last month. Faced with 11 million illegal immigrants and limited funds with which to remove them, the Obama administration announced it would focus only on deporting the worst of the worst while dismissing cases against people such as Godoy, who have clean records and long histories in the United States.
The government said it plans to reconsider the status of 300,000 illegal residents under the new guidelines, including many who already received deportation orders. But sometimes in Washington, a solution isn’t necessarily a fix. Even with the guidelines in place, there is no way for illegal immigrants to apply for review, and the government has yet to announce which cases will be reevaluated, when, and by whom. The new guidelines are not a law or a bill or even a policy; they are a suggestion that will be interpreted day by day, case by case.
One of those cases was Godoy’s. “I just need an answer,” she said.
A life in Richmond? Or a morning flight out of Dulles, already confirmed by deportation officials?
Twenty-four hours left to determine her fate.
She picked up her cellphone at 7:45 a.m. and called her attorney in Manassas. He spoke little Spanish and she spoke little English, but he was her only chance left. She had gone through four lawyers and $10,000 since November 2009, when a police officer pulled her over for driving with a suspended license and discovered she had entered the country twice without documentation. While the government began to push for her removal, Godoy e-mailed congressmen and took a bus to New York to meet a self-proclaimed immigration specialist who charged her $1,500 and then stopped returning her calls.
Finally, late last month, a friend recommended that Godoy visit Ricky Malik, a young lawyer in Manassas. He told Godoy about the just-released guidelines and helped her apply for a stay of removal for two more years in the United States. He stapled a copy of the guidelines to her request. Godoy had been calling him for updates five or six times every day since.
This time, her call went directly to voice mail, and with 23 hours left Godoy decided to leave another message.
“Señor, por favor,” she said. Please.
It was the first day of school for her two sons, so Godoy tried to lose herself in the details of the life she still had. She filled up her boyfriend’s car with gas, even though the boyfriend and the car would both be staying behind. She breast-fed her 4-week-old baby, Marilyn Nicole, even though the baby was too young to have received a birth certificate or a passport and would stay in the United States to be cared for by her father.