Jesus Magaña and Alejandra Pablos are brother and sister. They were born to the same parents but in two different countries.
Magaña is a U.S. citizen, who chose not to reenlist in the military when he found out his sister is facing deportation after two years in detention.
“We grew up thinking we were both Americans we grew up playing the same games speaking the same language, we grew up doing the same things,” Magaña said. “So to try to wrap my mind around her possibly not living in the same country as me, it’s hard”
When Pablos was eight months old, the family moved from Sonora, Mexico to California and that’s where Magaña was born. The family then moved to Arizona where they both live now.
“I grew up here, I went to high school here, I graduated from the UA in 2009 and I became a legal permanent resident when I was 18,” she said.
Pablos, 28, was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor a few years ago, she said. While on probation she was contacted by immigration officials and taken to an immigration detention center in Eloy.
“Yeah I made a mistake and next thing you know they want to deport me. I didn’t even know that could happen, I had legal status, I’ve been here my whole life and never lived as an undocumented person,” Pablos said.
Despite having a green card and legal status in the U.S. Pablos spent two years in detention because of a non-violent offense, she said.
“There’s nothing permanent about being a permanent resident of this country,” she said.
Magaña, 24, enlisted in the military after high school, and said his plan was to make a career in the military and retire when “I was too old to fight and they would kick me out.”
He was in training and about to go to Afghanistan when he found out his sister had been taken to the detention center.
“The fact that they’re deporting my American sister,” he said. “I felt conflicted and I couldn’t reenlist so I had to make a decision and I decided to get out.”
Pablos spent two years in the detention center not knowing how long she would be detained or whether she would be deported. Last month she was released but is facing deportation.
She has appealed her case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals but it could be months, or years before she knows what will happen to her.