"No nos vayas abandonar," Benita Galindo said to her husband: "Don't leave us." She spoke those words 11 years ago, and they're the last Doroteo Lucas Galindo heard from her in person before he left Mexico for the United States.
Soon, he'll be able to talk to her face to face again, though not in the way he planned when he moved to Los Angeles to create a better life for his family. After the election of Donald Trump, Galindo plans to return to Mexico this month, unsure he'll be able to see his closest friends in L.A. ever again.
After spending more than a decade as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S., he hoped the 2016 election would install a president who would be his champion. Instead, voters elected Trump, whose entry into the race was marked by his reference to Mexican immigrants as criminals and "rapists" and who famously pledged to build a wall on the Mexican border.
"The dream for millions of people like me is to be here legally in this country to work and to travel to where your family is and back," Galindo said. "But now we don't have many opportunities, because there are laws here that have many prerequisites. We are illegal. There are many opportunities, but it's not that easy."
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke to local students and the press in late November to reaffirm L.A.'s status as a "sanctuary city." The definition of the term is ambiguous, however, and varies from place to place.
A 2006 report by the Congressional Research Service states that sanctuary cities "and in some cases individual police departments … have utilized various mechanisms to ensure that unauthorized aliens … are not turned in to federal authorities. Some municipalities address the issue through resolutions, executive orders or city ordinances, while many police departments address the issues through special orders, departmental policy and general orders."
In Los Angeles, police Chief Charlie Beck stated the LAPD has no plans to assist with federal government deportation efforts and will continue its policy of prohibiting officers from stopping someone solely on the basis of immigration status.
President-elect Trump has said he will not tolerate sanctuary cities of any kind. "End sanctuary cities" is number four of his "10 Point Plan to Put America First."
It is listed just before a pledge to end President Obama's executive orders regarding immigration, a vow to triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, and the statement "Anyone who enters the U.S. illegally is subject to deportation."
Still, many are saying they will stay put, including the well-known undocumented journalist José Antonio Vargas and Galindo's closest friend in Los Angeles, Merlyn, who is also undocumented.
The 35-year-old left behind her husband and three children in Guatemala to come to the United States and find money to pay for surgery for her youngest daughter, Carolay. Her daughter was born with a physical abnormality and had had surgery once before, but it failed and she became infected.
After six years of living in the U.S., Merlyn received a phone call from her mother informing her that gangsters had murdered her husband.
"He had 15 bullets in him," she said.
Merlyn and her husband were also gangsters, a common profession where she's from.
"I was a gangster because economically, there is no good salary for other jobs," she said. "I had a lot of curiosity and it was very easy to obtain more money. We got money from all types of drugs and alcohol."
Once she came to the United States, however, Merlyn made a commitment to end her old ways.
"Coming here helped me a lot because I thought the U.S. was a place for opportunity and change," she said. "I made the decision to be a good person."
Merlyn is proud that her three children are not affiliated with gangs. "They study. They go to church. They are good kids," she said. "They don't want to live in Guatemala. They want to live with me."
The mother has not seen her children in person for 10 years, but said it's impossible to return to her home country. In addition to inadequate opportunities, she said, she's terrified that gangsters would punish her with the same fate as her husband.
Though she's accepted Galindo's decision, she's sad to see her best friend go. The two are members of a tightknit church made up of many undocumented immigrants. They refer to the friends they've made there as their brothers and sisters.
Galindo left his home in Toluca, Mexico, at night to avoid a painful goodbye between himself and his two daughters, Monica and Erica. Now 43 years old, he hasn't seen them since he left 11 years ago.
After his father passed in 2000, the money he made in his hometown just wasn't enough to sustain his nuclear family and two sisters, even though his wife also worked.
"I made the decision to come to the United States because I heard the jobs were much better paid," Galindo said. "One dollar here is 20 pesos there."
After settling in L.A., he immediately searched for a job.
"The first thing you do when you come to America is you wait outside places like Home Depot for people to come out and then you ask if they need help," he said. "There are many of us waiting on the corner for work."
But now it's different for him.
"I have friends and people I know who call me for work," he said.
Galindo had to overcome hurdles after he arrived, such as learning English and adopting the culture, but over time he came to appreciate his new home.
"This country has given me many opportunities and has allowed me to meet many wonderful people," he said. "I have learned new techniques for work. It's a country in which if you work hard, you will have a better quality of life."
Galindo hoped to eventually obtain legal permanent residence in the U.S. He placed his faith in Obama, who had promised amnesty to many undocumented immigrants if elected. Now nearing the end of his eight-year term, the commander-in-chief has deported more undocumented immigrants than any other president.
Galindo prayed that Hillary Clinton would help people like him.
"The two candidates gave promises. One of them, Hillary – personally I'm not for some of her policies – but I had hope in her that, at least, she would listen and try to help us," he said. "But it wasn't like this. She didn't win."
Of the president-elect, Galindo said: "Donald Trump is a very racist person. People say many racist things about Mexicans. But when you are a good person, it doesn't affect you. You have to break the law, but not in the way that Trump describes. There is a Constitution, and we respect that."
Trump has vowed to deport three million so-called "bad" undocumented people as one of the first major measures in his presidency. Even though Galindo doesn't have a criminal record, he feels there's simply no logical next step for him to stay in the country.
"There's no quick solution for us," Galindo said. "So, for me, after much time being here without a single solution, I feel I should return to Mexico. Economically, it's going to be very difficult to sustain my family. But, emotionally, and spiritually, I am very happy with God because I will be with my family, which, for me, is very important. My dream is to be with them."
Reach Staff Reporter Sarah Collins here.