BCS DREAMer who just returned home describes fears, uncertainties of being barred from returning to U.S.

Texas A&M graduate Karumi Reyes Duran was stuck in Mexico for nearly 6 months after running into issues renewing her visa in Ciudad Juarez in March
Published: Sep. 12, 2021 at 9:48 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - A DREAMer who grew up in Bryan-College Station and graduated from Texas A&M is back at home in East Texas with her husband and 1-year-old daughter Sunday after spending nearly six months stuck in Mexico after running into problems renewing her visa.

Thursday morning at a Houston airport marked the end of a nightmare for Karumi Reyes Duran when she was permitted to return to the United States and hug her entire family for the first time in months. She first crossed back over into America from Mexico the day before in El Paso when she reunited with her husband Roberto and daughter Allison before flying across the state to meet the rest of her family.

“I think it was just really nice crossing over and knowing that we were going to be together again, like all three of us again and that we were able to get home soon, and just have our regular routine as a family,” Karumi said.

“For me, the biggest emotion was seeing Karumi hug her family, once again, especially at the airport when she saw them for the first time,” Roberto said.

Back in March, Karumi traveled to Ciudad Juarez to renew her visa but ran into problems. She was told those problems could keep her from returning home to the only life she ever knew in Texas for as many as 10 years. Karumi says she was barely ever able to leave the home of her aunt in Mexico City.

“I felt a little trapped,” Karumi said. “Here in the U.S., I was able to drive, so if I was tired of being home, I could just grab my car and go somewhere. That wasn’t the reality there. I couldn’t take taxis by myself either because I didn’t know where I was going.”

She says that, along with not knowing how long separation from her family would last, was the hardest part. She says that the feeling of the unknown made her feel desperate at times.

“Roberto and Allison could probably come to Mexico with me, but like my parents and my sister, I think since we’re so close and not being able to have that again, I think that was going to be one of the hard things,” Karumi said.

“It almost seemed like every time there was good news, that good news wouldn’t go anywhere,” Roberto said. “Door after door would open, but we just couldn’t resolve her case.”

Roberto says that went on for five whole months and that just thinking about tomorrow was difficult at times. It was only about two weeks ago at the end of August when the couple says things finally felt like they were turning around. He says they got a call from their lawyer saying Karumi was granted another interview in Juarez.

“I think once we were in Juarez, we kind of knew that we could have some positive news on her case,” Roberto said. “I think that’s when it hit for both of us, but once we were there, it kind of brought all those memories and emotions back again.”

Roberto and Karumi say this whole experience has taught them to appreciate all the little things in their relationship they took for granted before. They say as the days and months went by, they realized more and more the most important thing was family.

“Back before everything happened, we would go on walks. I would get out of work and be like, ‘Oh let me skip this walk. Y’all two go,’” Roberto said. “I want to appreciate those walks more now. I want to go home and get off work and go for like a five, ten-minute walk. I think we’re going to appreciate every single thing we do, from just watching a movie together to going to Walmart. Just knowing it was possible we couldn’t have that for ten years, it changes your way of thinking.”

“There were things I learned to appreciate, like not having clean water sometimes,” Karumi said. “We had to use a hang line and the sun to dry our clothes. Different little things like that where I didn’t feel as secure as I felt here in the U.S. I think God also sent me to Mexico so I could learn to appreciate some things and be thankful for what I have, and why my parents brought me to a country where I could have those things.”

Karumi says she’s happy she’ll be able to give her daughter the normal family life she always envisioned for her.

“She was able to come home to our house and grow up in her own room, in the house that I knew she knew, and that was what I always really wanted,” Karumi said.

“In terms of our lives, I think it’ll be hard to try to go back to what we were trying to do before we left, but it might be the best thing to try to forget what happened for a few days,” Roberto said. “I know it’s going to be hard, but we’ll try to go back to our lives the way they were.”

Lawyers say this case is a good example of why DACA recipients should ensure that their cases are individually analyzed before departing the United States and to always get a second legal opinion before making any big decisions. Karumi’s advice to other DREAMers who find themselves in a similar situation as her is to never lose sight of hope.

“I can tell you to please, don’t give up on faith because I think that was one of the biggest factors for me to stay strong,” Karumi said.

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