Next month, Mary Mejia will board a plane with her two young children and leave behind most everything she knows — her job, her family and friends, nearly all her possessions — to begin a new life in Mexico.
It was not the life that the Rochester native sought nor even imagined for herself. But it is, as far as she is concerned, the only option available to her for keeping her family together.
Mary McGuire met and fell in love with Carlos Mejia while working at a Burnsville restaurant. In 2011, the couple were married. They have been together for seven years and are raising two children, Gabriel, 5 and Camille, 2.
Carlos Mejia also is an undocumented Mexican immigrant. At the time of the marriage, Mary didn’t see the issue as a barrier, believing her marriage would confer legal status on Carlos. But that belief proved to be mistaken, as the law had changed in 1999.
It would be the first of many daunting revelations as the couple sought to negotiate U.S. immigration law.
“We didn’t realize. We didn’t research it,” Mary said. “We just assumed that if he married me, he would have citizenship.”