I felt devastated, very confused and scared. I felt desperate, because I didn’t know where I was going or what would become of my children. My oldest child was eighteen and my youngest had just turned two. I was scared to leave them behind. At (that) moment, they were on their own. I don’t think it was right. I wish they would’ve waited to arrest me, so my youngest children wouldn’t see. I was being arrested for domestic violence and depor- tation charges from years back. That same day, they took me to the Hall County Jail. Two days after, I was put into Atlanta Jail. After that, I was transported to Ocilla, Georgia and detained at the Irwin County De- tention Center. It felt horrible knowing I was seven hours away from my family. I never realized how fast something could happen, from seeing my kids every- day to not seeing them at all. type of joy that you would only feel after something like this has happened. Being detained by ICE was worth it. I was desperate about all that had been happening. I was given the op- portunity to get my social securi ty number and other great opportunities like getting my license. (This) has not (changed the way I feel about living here, because) things happen and no one would’ve thought that this small county would have this kind of problem; but this Going to court so many times was both, near-break- county is where my kids have grown up and to me, it ing and slightly exciting. I would walk in every time is still (my) home. hoping (they)would finally figure (it) out and (I could) be back with my family. My first court was devastat- ing. I had hope about seeing my family personally, but About the Author: I didn’t. They were behind a TV screen. I wasn’t given Vanessa Balderas the chance to see them. It was a very terrible feeling. When I saw my family walk in at the Detention Center, I felt relief. Not everyone was able to go, but knowing they were okay made me feel better. It was hard see- ing them, (because) there was a window separating me from them. I was gone for two months. They were the longest (months of my life). The days went by slow, and the nights were long. I (thought) to myself, “What would happen if I (was) to be deported? How would my family take it? How could I leave them all behind?” I was absolutely happy (the moment) I was (informed that) I was going home. I’d been in there so long, and I was so ready to be with my family once again. It was a 65 My name is Vanessa but my friends call me “Mayo” or “Nessa.” I just love seeing people laughing and smiling, so I choose to be funny and kind to others. I believe a smile is the best thing to give others, especially when we don’t know what their story may be. I enjoy spending time with my family. With Jesus’ help, I hope to change the world for children born with Down Syndrome. I will hold onto this dream until I see myself standing in the middle of a hospital helping others. I just simply want to be someone who makes a difference on this earth and someone to look up to.