By Kelly Ogle, NEWS 9
It's a long way from the State Capitol to Central Mexico for State Representative Randy Terrill.
"I'm always open to any sort of learning or educational experience, and frankly I'd put this in that category," Terrill said.
But for one young woman, it's an experience she never wanted.
Six months ago she lived just a few miles from Terrill's metro legislative district; now she feels a world away.
But this story starts long before Terrill became a State Representative. It starts in 1995 when Maria's parents gathered their kids, left Celaya, Mexico and headed north to the Rio Grande River. Maria was just nine-years-old.
"The guy grabbed my two little brothers and my little sister, and he put my two little brothers up here on his shoulders, and then we were holding from his shirt and we crossed," Maria said.
And for the next 13 years, she grew up, worked and had two children in Oklahoma City.
"I think from the moment I became a mom, the moment my son was born, me and my sister, we started talking to lawyers, seeing if there was a chance we could become legal," Maria said. "Unfortunately, there was not one."
And in November her path converged with lawmaker Terrill's. His tough immigration reform legislation, House Bill 1804, became law, and she was jailed after causing a fender bender while driving without a license.
"The officer told me, ‘You'll go to jail, they'll pay the bond.' And, which it was $1,200. ‘And you'll be out.' But I knew, something just told me I wasn't getting out."
And she was right. After 45 days in County, she was desperate to get out and volunteered to leave the country.
Now she finds herself in a country she hardly remembers, taken in by family she barely knows. It's left her depressed and bitter.
Terrill still stands behind House Bill 1804.
"I think it is about fundamental respect for the rule of law," Terrill said. "I think it's about upholding our international sovereignty. I also think it's about the immorality of employing illegal alien slave labor."
For Maria it's all about her children, an almost two-year-old girl, and a four-year-old boy she talks to frequently on her cell phone.
Maria's sister is taking care of them, and said the little boy especially misses his mom.
"He gets really upset that the only thing he does is turn around and goes to his room," Maria's sister said. "And it's so hard because he starts crying there and then when he sees you some into his room, he wipes his face off and he just hugs you."
And Maria's sister, now raising five kids, worries about House Bill 1804 too and talks to her daughter about it.
"I also tell her that might happen to me too, so you need to, both of you girls need to be strong when this happens," Maria's sister said.
Maria's trying to find work in Mexico, and hoping to save up enough money to return to the U.S. on a work Visa, and someday become a legal citizen.
But for now she's locked out of what she considers her true homeland, and barred from seeing her children.