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Immigrant Orphans Face Hardships In The United States
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Story By: Larry Stine



  Originally Published on: 11/11/2013

Three undocumented immigrant orphans in the United States fought a legal battle to stay together. And for now, they can. Rafael Romo has their story. Homework time at the Cabreras. Twenty-three-year-old Brianda, here on the left, helps her 15-year-old sister, Diana, with math. The Cabreras, including brother Jose, who's 18, are orphans. "My parents are gone," says Brianda Cabrera. "So for me this is the only family I have left." Their father died 13 years ago in Mexico and their mother moved the family to the United States. She was struck by a car and killed when Brianda was 14. "She's become a second mother and she took on responsibilities she didn't need to, to take care of us," says Diana Cabrera. They say they lived in the shadows for years because they were undocumented. Brianda took odd jobs just to make enough money for food, rent and school. "She's going to school and I know she expects us to go to school and she's made that possible by doing all these legal things," says Diana Cabrera. Under the law, the Cabreras fall into a category known as "unaccompanied minors," meaning undocumented, immigrant children who have no parent or guardians. "The number of unaccompanied minors has tripled in the last five years," says CNN's Rafeal Romo. "Last year, the U.S. Border Patrol took more than 24,000 into custody. The vast majority comes from Mexico, but some come from places as far away as India, China and Romania." "And obviously, that's just the children who are apprehended crossing the border; new arrivals in theory so nationwide, who knows how many we have that weren't detected, that crossed without detention," says Jessica Damon, an immigration attorney. Damon, who works at Atlanta's Latin American Association, took the case of the Cabreras to court. "And so we asked that the children be found deprived, under state law, and that she be named their guardian," says Damon. "With that order the youngest two children were eligible to apply for special immigrant juvenile status and a green card." For now, the Cabreras can stay together. "Family comes first so that's the way I was raised, that before anything else ,you have to take care of your family," says Brianda Cabrera. The fight is not over. Briand's fate depends on a bill for young immigrants known as "The Dream Act." It has failed multiple times in Congress. "I never kind of think negative," says Brianda Cabrera. Brianda is embracing the only hope she has.
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