“As I crossed the desert I could hear my breath faintly start slowing down step by step. The heat was unbearable, and the only thing that kept me going was the desire to see my little boy once again.”
Eduardo Hernandez, who said the above words, was deported to Mexico almost three years ago when he had his papers removed from him by a judge in the Logan Justice Court in 2012. Before his departure he spent some time in Logan’s Cache County jail, and in February of 2013 he was deported.
“Once I heard the words of the judge everything went quiet,” Hernandez said, “Everything around me was mute. I hadn’t realized how much I had messed up until that moment. I knew I would probably never see my little boy again. I felt as if I was drowning. Man, had I messed up.”
"The only thing that kept me going was the desire to see my little boy once again."
Before deportation, he was put in the Cache County Jail before being transferred to the Utah State Prison where he served the rest of his time and waited for deportation. As February came he was told his day had come. He reached Arizona, and from there he was transferred to Mexico.
“As I stepped into Mexico I felt as though my life had completely fallen apart,” Hernandez remembered. “I had only one place to go, and that was with my brother, who had also had his papers taken away and deported a year before me. I spent many nights since my arrival wishing I never did what I had done. Since I was young I had been a drinker, what in the first place had got me into this mess, but almost everyday I would spend my time drinking and drinking.”
Despite his challenges, Hernandez did not give up hope. “All that went through my head was how much I missed my family and especially my little boy. I knew that I needed to get back, so the next morning I decided to give my mom a call. Talking to her once again felt great, but deep inside I felt sad. We talked for a while about my family and how everyone was, then I brought up the subject of returning back. My mom said she would gather the money and get me back under one condition, I would have to go into rehab for my alcohol problem.
This was difficult for Hernandez to accept, “I refused and I told her I had no problem. I guess I was just in denial. Angrily I hung up the phone. As the day passed I realized maybe she was right and if I ever wanted to see my family again I’d have to do it. So the next day I gave my mom a call and I told her I would do it.”
Still in Mexico, Eduardo went into rehab and slowly started letting go of his bad habit. As December approached, he had finally been able to let go of his bad habit and gave his mom another call.
“As soon as received my certificate, I gave my mom a call and told her the news. At first she found it hard to believe because of my past history, but she then was able to believe it when my grandma told her it was true. I asked if she had the money ready and she said she only need about $1,000 more and we’d be set.”
He continued, “In the meantime she told me to start looking for a coyote (immigrant smuggler / guide) who I could rely on to get me across the border safely, so I did. As the new year approached, I had found my coyote, and my mom had came up with the money, and she was ready to send it over to me.
When I received the money, I immediately went down to the coyote and gave him the money. He told my we would be leaving sometime in June and explained to me what I should bring with me and what to expect. I impatiently waited for June to come.”
As June arrived, Eduardo was more than excited that he would soon be able to see his family, but he also knew that many things could go wrong in the desert.
“June arrived and we met up with the coyote and we were ready to go. The desert was the most harsh part of it all. We went days trying to get over. I saw so many people die, and we all had that one thing to keep us going whether it was a family or a new start. Days went by and I could already feel that I wasn’t going to make it, and there were only a few of us left. There was only one thing for us to do and that was to get help from the cartel.”
Hernandez spoke cautiously at this point. “I won’t give much detail about them besides that they made us do things and see things we’d thought we’d never see. Weeks went by. I had lost track of the days. At last the cartel got us across the border, and I called my mom to come pick me up from Arizona. At the time of the call, the cartel still had all of us, and they wanted my family to pick us up from them. I was worried because you never know what to expect from a cartel and whether or not they would hurt my family. I waited about two days before my mom arrived, but once I saw her I couldn’t be happier. My mom met with some of the people from the cartel, and surprisingly they were very kind to her and my brother. Now more than ever I only wanted to see my wife and son.”
Hernandez finally made his way back to his wife and son. He is now currently working at a farm and has not touched a beer since he got back. He has stayed out of trouble, and he will never forget what he had to see and experience on his struggle back to the U.S.
*To respect his privacy, Eduardo’s last name has been changed for this story.