By Sarah Richards

March 22, 2017 

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When Natividad Gonzalez packs her daughters' homework and lunches for school

each morning, she slips a freshly charged cell phone into her eldest child's

bag. The 11-year-old knows the plan: If she and her younger sister, age 8,

walk home from the bus to find an empty house, she's supposed to call

Gonzalez's friend who will come get them. 


Her daughter also knows the combination to the family safe, inside which is

an ATM card and a quickly drafted power-of-attorney letter granting custody

to the family friend in case Natividad and her husband are arrested and sent

back to Mexico. "These are things that an 11-year-old shouldn't have to be

thinking about," says Gonzalez, age 32, who came to Clanton, Alabama with

her husband nearly 13 years ago, and is still undocumented.