By Tim Harfmann
Maria Barragan has been given weeks to live. Her doctors said after battling stage four cancer for over a decade, chemotherapy is no longer working.
“I’m sick. I’m sad. I’m scared.”
Maria’s a U.S. citizen and an immigrant from Guatemala. She’s worried most about her sons, 13-year-old Cristian and nine-year-old Daniel. “So much stress for me. I need help,” said Maria.
But her husband, Benjamin, is stuck in Mexico.
He’s been there for months after U.S. officials discovered he crossed the border illegally years ago. Now, he can’t get a green card for at least 10 years.
The boys and their dad are only able to talk over the phone. “I’m trying to be as happy as possible,” said Cristian. “Because I’m talking to him at least.”
“It’s really sad and I don’t understand why. That was, like, 20 years ago,” said Daniel about his father’s illegal crossing into the U.S. “He’s our dad. A family can’t really be broken apart.”
Helping out during the trying times is Amy Lyons, a parishioner at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
She signed-up as guardian for the boys so they aren’t forced into foster care if their mom passes away.
“I just have faith that I’ll have the strength and that I’ll manage it and do well for them,” said Amy emotionally.
Amy and other friends are trying to get Benjamin into the U.S., enlisting the help of doctors and politicians. But so far, the request for a humanitarian return to the country has been turned down twice.
The family is praying to God.
“Please, I need to stay for my sons. I’m sorry. And thank you for this day,” said Maria as she looks up to heaven.
“God is God, so I just know that God is listening to me,” said Daniel.
The Barragans will continue to pray as they hope to be reunited.