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‘What was left behind was a broken family’

Nelly Fuentes remembers the moment her entire life changed.

She remembers how cold it was that morning in February 2008. How her husband’s voice shook when he told her he had been pulled over while driving home from work.

“That’s when my nightmare began,” said Fuentes, who lives in Southwest Michigan. “Anyone who’s undocumented knows what being pulled over means.”

Fuentes’ husband, who was undocumented, was deported to Mexico three weeks after he was pulled over. She has not seen him since.

“We lost him in every way that a person can be lost,” Fuentes said of her husband, the man she had known since childhood and with whom she expected to grow old. “When he arrived in Mexico, he lost himself in grief. What was left behind was definitely a broken family. I lost my best friend, the father of my children, the love of my life, my life partner. My children lost their father.”

Fuentes, a leader of the Drive Michigan Forward coalition and an organizer with We The People Michigan, was one of a long list of people expected to testify at a House hearing last week on two bills that would restore the ability of undocumented Michiganders, among others, to access driver licenses and state identification. House Bills 4835 and 4836, introduced by state Reps. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy) and Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids), respectively, make up the Drive SAFE legislation, which stands for safety, access, freedom, and the economy.



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