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‘It Breaks My Heart’: Washington Single Mother of 3 Faces Deportation, Breakup of Family

A Washington state mother of three girls is days away from being deported after she came to the United States illegally 12 years ago from Honduras, according to KTLA sister station KCPQ in Seattle.

“It’s just so difficult for us, as you can see,” said Sherly Alvarado-Pineda, the 14-year-old daughter of Bernarda Pineda, as her younger sister Stacey welled up with tears.

From left, Bernarda Pineda and her 9-year-old daughter Stacey Alvarado-Pineda embrace. (Credit: KCPQ)

From left, Bernarda Pineda and her 9-year-old daughter Stacey Alvarado-Pineda embrace. (Credit: KCPQ)

“She’s going to have to leave in a week,” Sherly said, and the family will be split apart.

A plane ticket to Honduras on March 19 sits in front of them.

“I don’t want my mom to go over there, I don’t think it’s right," Sherly said. "The poverty, I don’t think she deserves it. She’s been here for a long time.”

Bernarda Pineda said a better life for her daughter Sherly and the unstable political climate in Honduras led her to enter the U.S. illegally in 2006. Since arriving she's had two more children who are American citizens: Stacey, and 11-year-old Sheyla.

“My mom and us all have a bond,” Sherly said.

Sherly was 2 years old during the journey, and her mom carried her on foot from Honduras to Mexico, then months later across a river into Texas, according to the Daily Herald.

Since 2006, Bernarda has obtained a work visa, holds a job, has a driver’s license, a Social Security number and keeps a record of check-ins with immigration officers who OK her stay every few months.

“I’m scared and worried because I don’t want to leave my kids here,” the mother of three said.

She says she’s very religious and her faith is what’s getting her through this tough time.

At her last check-in with the immigration office, Sherly, who translates for her mother, said U.S. Customs agents told her that her mother could not stay any longer, citing an outstanding deportation order from a missed hearing in 2006.

“I froze,” said Sherly, adding that she was so shocked it took her a few minutes to gather herself before she could translate those words to her mother.

“It breaks my heart,” Bernarda said of the pain her situation is causing her girls.

Her daughters are preparing to move to Chicago to live with their father.

He has been a part of their lives and they see him from time to time in the summer, Sherly said, but it will be very strange to live with him since they are used to life with their mom.

“It’s just so strange to me," she told KCPQ. "I don’t really know how to feel.”

Stacey’s third-grade teacher, Barbara McKinnley, said the 9-year-old came to class crying one day. When she explained what was happening to her mother, McKinnley said she knew she had to help.

“Once you’re my student, you’re always my child,” said McKinnley, who also taught Sherly.

McKinnley says Stacey is having an especially tough time with the reality of her mom’s deportation.

“I’m watching her fall apart,” McKinnley said.

McKinnley created a GoFundMe campaign in hopes of raising enough money to hire an attorney to take on Bernarda's case with the hope of preventing her deportation. She says if the deportation does happen, the girls will need financial support when they move to be with their father in Chicago, who, she says, has limited resources.