Reyes' children, including Brian, were supposed to follow their mother in her asylum bid to the United States. But a paperwork delay, combined with the family's impatience, led them to come before their visas were approved, she said.
Now undocumented, they must leave the country and wait 10 years before reapplying for visas in order to obtain legal status.
"Hola," Reyes said, picking up her cell phone. Her face lit up with the answer on the other end: It was Brian, calling from Honduras, where he has been living for nearly a year, continuing with high school and working as a carpenter.
"It's so hard, you know, to leave behind a life and my entire family," Brian said.
Asked if he would to try return to the United States without waiting the requisite 10 years, he said, "I don't want to go illegally now. I don't want to get deported again. It's such a horrible experience."
Meanwhile, Santos Reyes clings to the hope that Congress and the Obama administration will enact a comprehensive immigration overhaul that will allow her family to be united under the "umbrella" of asylum, as she originally hoped.
"I don't want to talk to a first lady, I want to talk to a mother," Reyes said of her desire to reach Michelle Obama about her plight.
"Because I know nothing is worth more to her than her two children. I work very, very hard to give the best to my children like she has. My children are the most valuable things I ever have."