Lucía Quiej, the Guatemalan Immigrant Behind Most Powerful Moment of the Univision Debate, Fears Losing Her Home

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When Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton took the stage for the Univision debate at Miami-Dade College on March 9, they probably didn’t expect a Guatemalan immigrant to overshadow them. But that day, mother of five Lucía Quiej held back tears as she embodied the heart-wrenching effects of deportation. Three years ago, a cop stopped her husband and busted him for driving without a license, and her U.S.-born children haven’t seen their father since then.

As Hillary and Bernie used Lucía’s question to get back to their immigration talking points, a reporter live translated their responses in her ear. And the next day, the interaction dominated headlines, with the general consensus being that this was a moment that illustrated why Univision’s Latino-focused forum was necessary.

Nearly a month has passed since Lucía’s story gained national attention. This week, Univision followed up with Lucía, who this time couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down her face. Not only is she separated from her husband, she also can’t pay rent and risks facing eviction. Univision noted that the day they met with Lucía, she had one day to figure out how to come up with the money. “At times, I struggle with the pain, the sadness and everything that’s happening, but I say ‘be strong and brave,’” she said.

Lucía and her children share one room, where they lay down blankets on the floor each night before going to sleep. During the brief interview, she revealed that some people failed to feel sympathetic toward her difficult position. She received insult-filled letters – which told her she had no right to live in the U.S. and that the government should deport her to Syria – shaking her to her core.

On April 4, Jonathan Fried started a GoFundMe account for Lucía and her family, which raised more than $11,000. Donate here.