Kristen Agrawal counted down the days before she flew to Morelia, Mexico, on Dec. 18, to spend the holidays with her husband and their two teenage daughters. She carefully planned an itinerary for Christmas week.
“We are going to go to the celebration of the Virgin of Guadeloupe and theeternal town of Christmas,” she said of Tlalpujahua, a town known for producing artisan Christmas tree ornaments year-round. “I want to go to all the bakeries and try every single Christmas pastry.”
Agrawal’s family eventually made Mexico their home after Agrawal’s husband, Bimal Agrawal, was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers in 2017. A Nepalese immigrant who came to the US on a student visa at age 18, Bimal became a victim of immigration lawyer fraud while seeking legal permanent residency and was never able to adjust his status.
Rather than fight ICE, the family first made the heart-wrenching decision for Bimal to self-deport to Nepal, and his wife and daughters followed. But after a few months, they realized Nepal was not a viable option. “We were completely unprepared,” Kristen Agrawal said. The family began to consider other options.