Photo: Fertilizer Plant Explosion
After April’s deadly explosion of a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, the family of Sandra Villalobos has been adrift in the world, having lost her husband in the accident and with him the chance to have her family living together in the United States.
In just a little more time Villalobos would have obtained her Green Card that had already been approved, which would in turn allow her to bring her elder daughter Karen, 11, from Mexico to complete the family.
Villalobos had to leave her home in West in February to pay the penalty outside the country in Mexico. She traveled with her husband Mariano Saldivar and 7-year-old daughter Mariana, who was born with spina bifida, which left her paralyzed from the waist down.
The family lived together for awhile in Mexico, but soon Salvidar, who already had his Green Card, had to go back to work in West.
“The three of us went to Mexico together and thought we would return as a family when they gave me my residency,” Villalobos recalls.
The April 17 explosion in the plant killed her husband, who at the time was in the apartment building that was destroyed along with all the family’s property.
“He had returned to Texas on April 2, we talked every day on the phone to see how things were going, but soon he stopped answering my calls,” Villalobos said. She got so worried she started calling people in West - until a friend told her what had happened.
Still not recovered from the devastating news, the woman got another call informing her that the issuance of her Green Card had been suspended because of the death of her husband.
“The world collapsed around me,” she said.
The 33-year-old mother told Efe that she began to find strength she never knew she had and began her struggle to reunite what remained of her family.
Attorney Karen Crawford took her case, and told her that to be able to help her, the widow had to come to Texas. With a humanitarian visa allowing her to attend her husband’s funeral, she was able to travel.
For now, Villalobos has received a permit to stay in West until the case is decided, but she herself acknowledges that “with immigration, you never know what’s going to happen.”