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Best Friend Might be Deported


Hey, Cherie!

I am in a fight with my parents over my best friend, Maia. We are both 15. My parents have known Maia since she was 8 and she and her aunt moved into our neighborhood. Her parents died in an accident a long time ago.

Maia and I both love art, so we had this in common from the beginning. We have always been the best art students, and last year, we both got picked to take art classes at our local community college. Every year, there is a big art contest sponsored by our local art museum, and the winning artwork gets shown at the museum and then at our airport, plus you also win a savings bond toward your college education.

Fifteen is the youngest you can be to enter the art contest. Well, I wanted to win, but I came in third, and Maia won with a watercolor she did of the field behind her house. She is so talented. I was so excited for her! But then when it was announced that she won, and the newspaper came to take her photo, someone found out that she is here in the United States illegally. Her family brought her here from Mexico when she was just a baby, so she doesn't know Mexico at all. She is as American as I am! I didn't even know she was here illegally.

First, they took the art prize away from her. And now they are trying to get her and her whole family deported. I have been crying every day and so has Maia. I promised her I would hide her if I had to so that she can't be taken away to a country she doesn't even know. My parents completely disagree with me. They believe that laws are laws and Maia should not get the art prize, and she should have to go back to Mexico. We are not even speaking to each other, and usually, I don't ever fight with my parents. Please help me!


Hey, Desperate!

Wow, this is a tough one. In my opinion — and people, it is an opinion, so do not send me hate mail, 'K? There are good people on both sides of this issue. I once had dinner with an activist who insisted that American land actually belongs to Mexico anyway and that there is so much undeveloped land in America that the boarder should be open. Anyone should be able to come here and homestead open land. Personally, I found this line of thinking kinda ...objectionable. On the other hand — and there is always another hand — I find it absolutely objectionable that anyone would try to send Maia back to a country she does not know and has never known.

I agree — she is as American as you are. The "sins" (I'm using "sin" in the loosest sense possible because I realize that the majority of people who come here illegally come to find a better life) of the parents are not the "sins" of their child, who had no say in the matter.

And yes, I totally believe Maia should get to keep her art prize, too. The idea of hiding Maia is not going to work. However, you can let this spur you to become an activist. Organize a petition of people who agree with you. Organize a march of protest. Stand up! Stand out! Speak out! Make a video for YouTube featuring Maia and her art. It may go viral.

There is power in numbers. There is power in you. You can respectfully disagree with your parents. That's part of growing up. I'm rooting for you and Maia. Let me know what happens.

Hey, Cherie!

Do you know what pink eye is? It is so gross. Your eye gets all red and gunky and disgusting. I look like something from a monster movie. We have our prom early (I go to private school). My prom is this weekend, and I look disgusting! My parents believe in natural cures, and they said I have to stay home and my eye will get better on its own. My friend says if I put in the eye drops you get at the drugstore, which get rid of red eye, it will make my eye look normal so I can fool my parents. I have a date for prom with a guy I've been crushing on since time began. I haven't been in school in two days because my eye is catchy. I figure if I use the eye drops, my parents will think my eye is better and I can go to prom and look normal. Email me your answer because I don't have time to wait for your column!


Hey, Cyclops!

As you know, I did email you an answer, but I'm also using your letter in my column. Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is kinda yucky, very common and very catchy, so don't touch your eye. I'm not a doctor, but in my opinion you should see one. Your parents are certainly offing your prom casually — did they forget what a big deal prom is for some kids? What is the selective memory thing with some parents? But I digress. I checked with an eye doctor who said under no circumstances should you start messing around with over the counter eye drops to try to hide your condition or treat your eye yourself.

Have a serious talk with the 'rents about how important prom is to you, and see if you can get an emergency appointment with an eye doctor. She may prescribe special eye drops and give you instructions to care for your eye. I asked a homeopathic doctor who suggested warm chamomile tea pads. Again, this is not medical advice, as I am not qualified to give it. There is a chance you can get the green light to go to prom if you wear a patch over your eye. Before you freak out, think of the alternative, which is called: not going. Years from now, you will have a great prom story, and you can rock the eye patch in all your prom photos.

Cherie Bennett is a best-selling author of books for teens and young adults. Visit her website at To find out more about Cherie Bennett and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



4 Comments | Post Comment
LW1 - Deporting an undocumented minor to a country where she has no relatives is not as easy as LW seems to think. And I doubt that an art prize won at a local contest can be taken away from somebody because the person (a minor child) has no legal status in the U.S. Legal residency is rarely (never?) a condition of participation in local contests.

LW2 - Pink eye is highly contagious. While it is easier for toddlers to spread it among others than for teenagers, it is still not guaranteed that LW will not infect his/her peers. Pink eye needs to be treated. If the infection is bacterial, as it often is, it is unlikely to go away on its own. Untreated pink eye can lead to permanent eye damage.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Ariana
Sat Mar 17, 2012 7:47 AM
Ariana, doesn't matter if they "can" take the prize away from her -- LW says they DID. Which means that if the contest organizers violated their own rules in response to political pressure, Maia would need a lawyer to pursue getting it returned to her. Not generally worth the time and effort for a college savings bond -- she'd be better off hiring that lawyer to fight her deportation.

Because LW doesn't say that Maia has no relatives in Mexico; only that she doesn't "know" Mexico. It's very possible that she has relatives there that she's never met -- grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins -- or doesn't recall ever meeting; visits would have been too risky.

A compassionate court would rule that this orphaned child would be better off remaining with the only relative who has raised her since her parents' deaths than to be forced to live with relatives she doesn't know in an unfamiliar country where she'd likely not see her aunt again, because of course as a baby, the child had no say in where she was raised. However, in the current political climate, I can guarantee you that, ugly as it sounds, there are people who look at this talented, orphaned child and see a "burden" on taxpayers, and they WILL push for her deportation. I think LW and Maia are right to take this very seriously (although I agree that LW should not try to hide Maia ).
Comment: #2
Posted by: hedgehog
Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:26 AM
hedgehog When LW said "her and her whole family deported", I assumed that included the aunt, so she wouldn't be sent to live with relatives she doesn't know. Still sucks.
Comment: #3
Posted by: C Meier
Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:10 AM
Yeah, I suppose Maia could be living in a household that also includes her uncle, several cousins, several siblings, etc. LW introduced the aunt only to indicate the adult responsible for Maia after her parents died.

I was assuming the aunt was perhaps a naturalized citizen (which she still could be) -- often when the flames start burning, though, people who are enraged don't bother to make those fine distinctions.
Comment: #4
Posted by: hedgehog
Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:06 PM
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