On March 11, a Saturday afternoon, in William Chapel A.M.E. Zion, a bare-bones church in Angier, Lilian Cardona is watching her children play. They weave among the rows of seats that had been filled moments before and run circles around the keyboard and the legs of standing adults. Cardona, nearly thirty-five, turns her head behind her husband's shoulder and quietly cries.
A minute later, she wipes her eyes, adorned with a stripe of bright blue eye shadow, and resumes talking about how, within a few weeks, maybe even a few days, she may be ripped from her husband, her four young children, and her home of twenty years.
For the last month, since she got the word from Immigration and Customs Enforcement that she could soon be deported, Cardona's life has been filled with uncertainty—and its excruciating partner, waiting.
The family will wait five more days until they can leave for Charlotte, where Cardona must answer to a six-year-old order for her removal from the country. On March 16, they'll drive three hours to the ICE field office, not knowing if she'll make the trip back to Angier. They'll huddle in the cold for more than an hour outside of the ICE building before Cardona's appointment, unsure if she'll be detained once she opens its heavy glass doors. And they'll wait another hour to learn that she's been granted something of a reprieve from deportation, at least during the couple of weeks it takes ICE to accept or deny her application to stay in the country.
With no criminal record, a valid work permit, and a baby due in May, Cardona is one of many immigrants who have been caught in a wide net cast by the Trump administration in the name of making America a safer country. If Cardona is eventually deported, it will show that the government is willing to break apart a family to further that goal, sending a mother—and a baby who would be an American citizen given a slight shift in timing—to a country that has not been hers for decades.
"How would [Trump] feel being separated from his children?" Cardona asks.