This Aug. 14, 2012 photo shows [U.S. citizen] Rony Molina holding a photo of his wife in his home in Stamford, Conn. Molina's wife, Sandra Payes Chacon, was deported to Guatemala in 2010, leaving Molina alone to care for their three children, all American citizens. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
"Alexis Molina was just 10 years old when his mother was abruptly cut out of his life and his carefree childhood unraveled overnight. Gone were the egg-and-sausage tortillas that greeted him when he came home from school, the walks in the park, the hugs at night when she tucked him into bed. Today the sweet-faced boy of 11 spends his time worrying about why his father cries so much, and why his mom can't come home. "She went for her papers," he says. "And she never came back." Alexis' father, Rony Molina, who runs a small landscaping company, was born in Guatemala but has lived here for 12 years and is an American citizen. Alexis and his 8-year-old brother, Steve, are Americans, too. So is their 19-year-old stepsister, Evelin. But their mother, Sandra, who lived here illegally, was deported to Guatemala a year and a half ago. "How can my country not allow a mother to be with her children, especially when they are so young and they need her," Rony Molina asks, "and especially when they are Americans?" It's a question thousands of other families are wrestling with as a record number of deportations means record numbers of American children being left without a parent. And it comes despite President Barack Obama's promise that his administration would focus on removing only criminals, not breaking up families even if a parent is here illegally." - Helen O'Neill, Associated Press, Aug. 25, 2012.