(Photo courtesy Blasa Oyoque)
Blasa Oyoque has been in the United States for over thirteen years. She came from Mexico to be with the father of her children; twice she crossed the border without documentation. The first time she tried to cross, she was in the back of a car with one of her children by her side, their bodies barely covered by a thin piece of cloth. After some time in the United States, she ultimately went back to Mexico to be with her parents. But her desire to have her children with their father, all together as one family, led her to once again seek to immigrate without documentation. The second time she was by herself, in the back of a van, again covered up.
But Blasa Oyoque isn’t just an undocumented immigrant. She is also a mother, an entrepreneur, and a survivor of domestic violence.
Oyoque met the father of her children in Mexico. She said when they were living in Mexico, they had what she considered to be a normal relationship. He had manipulative tendencies, but when he decided to cross the border to the United States, she ultimately followed. It was then that the man she had risked so much to be with became even more manipulative and controlling. While he would go out every night with his friends, alone, he banned Blasca from having any friends of her own, from leaving the house, from learning to drive, to going to work.
Speaking through a translator, Oyoque told Yahoo Health that it was, to date, the most isolating time in her life.
And then her partner started using drugs. At first he hid it, she said, to keep the children from finding out. But eventually he stopped caring. He would openly not only use drugs, but womanize. Then, when Oyokue was seven months pregnant, he started to beat her more intensely. Which is when Oyokue decided she had to leave, for the safety of not only herself, but both her children and the child still unborn she was carrying.
When she separated from her partner, her family in Mexico criticized Oyokue for her decision, and to this day they still tell her that she should get back together with him for the “sake of the children.”
Oyokue says that when she first met her now former partner, he was already starting to become physically abusive, but it times the behavior would ebb. She was fearful. She stayed. But as his behavior escalated she knew she had to leave him. After the time when he beat her while she was pregnant, she called the police to report the incident. He was put in jail – but only three months after she reported him the first time.
When he had been jailed, Oyokue’s former partner thought it had been for a rape charge. He learned only later that it was for the domestic violence charges filed by Oyokue.
But despite his jail time, Oyokue’s partner still had not been deported. She says he became afraid of her, though, as she threatened to call the police if he ever came near her or her children again. He evaded deportation for another six years before a minor traffic stop eventually forced him out of the country for good as a result of newer, stiffer penalties for domestic violence perpetrators.
(Photo courtesy Blasa Oyoque)
When Oyokue left her partner, before he even served his jail time, she again dealt with extreme isolation. Being a stay at home mom, she says, had been so isolating – and even more so given the way her partner prevented her from having any real contact with the outside world. Simply to try to meet people, Oyokue would take her children for long walks, up and down the streets of their city. She learned to drive so she could start working and providing for her children.
In trying to support her family, now as a single mother, Oyokue worried about deportation herself. She knew her prospects for employment were limited since she did not have a social security number and did not want to threaten her family’s living status in their adopted country. So she started her own business, making tamales. She survived, she says, by making and serving tamales. Oyokue grew her tamale business, eventually getting into catering as well. During this time she also sold Avon.