A mother's dream to give her daughter legal status in the United States turned into a nightmare.
Esmeralda Segura’s family and her teachers are struggling to find a way to bring her back to Maypearl, the only home she's ever known. At only 15, Esmerelda is stuck in Mexico with relatives she barely knows, facing an uncertain future.
It started last November when her mother took her to the U.S. Consulate in Mexico to apply for green card status in the U.S. Esmeralda was denied and forced to remain behind in Mexico, even though she grew up in the U.S. after she was brought in illegally at age 3.
"I am grateful for everything that's been given to me but I extremely miss my family and not being able to see them every day and heartbreaking at times,” Esmerelda said.
She grew up in the halls of the Maypearl ISD where she started in pre-k when she was four. She stood out as a freshman at Maypearl High School.
"She's been a straight A student she's an honor student, she's been a cheerleader for us, she's just really someone that leads our school,” said Lesley Austin, Maypearl High School principal.
Sylvia has faced heartbreak before. Her first husband, Esmeralda's father, died several years ago. The family did not have legal status at the time. But Sylvia remarried with an American citizen, and she was recently granted permanent resident status. She wanted the same for her daughter.
Sylvia says a letter from the U.S. Consulate in Juarez, Mexico told her to take her daughter there to apply for a green card. But because Esmeralda was denied, Sylvia says the U.S. Consulate told her the teenager has to wait a year -- until this November -- to re-apply.
"It's a feeling I don't know how to express, it feels like your whole world, what you've come to know just comes crashing down, you feel like you're completely alone,” Esmerelda said.
Immigration attorney Haim Vasquez, who is not involved in Esmeralda's case, says applicants have to undergo rigorous interviews and medical tests when applying for legal status.
"We have a family going through the legal process, yes they might have entered in the past without status but now they're fixing it using the tool the law provides but the law doesn't see issues and doesn't react the same way to everybody,” Vasquez said.
Since Esmeralda had to go through the screening process alone, no one seems to know what went wrong.
“We all thought it was going to be fine and so it was her worst nightmare to be told she couldn't come back to her home,” Austin said.
Friends say a church has raised money for a new lawyer to work on Esmeralda’s case to try and bring her back.