KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - For as long as her daughter Jennifer Uscanga can remember, Leticia Stegall has recited nightly prayers with her in Spanish, often at the girl’s bedside.
They still do so before Uscanga, 17, goes to sleep. But Mom is not there, except on the screen of her phone.
In late February, Stegall of Kansas City, was detained by immigration agents on her way to the gym. By week’s end, they had whisked the successful sports bar manager to her native Mexico. Having entered the U.S. illegally 20 years ago, she wasn’t able to kiss goodbye her husband of six years nor her daughter, both Americans.
Still, Stegall told The Kansas City Star , “I consider myself lucky.” Her family has the resources to afford web access, smartphones, laptops and other gadgets that keep them close.
From a laptop mailed to her in Mexico, “Letty” Stegall, 40, even continues to manage The Blue Line restaurant in the River Market.
She monitors the establishment through 17 cameras mounted inside and out. When a table hasn’t been cleared in a while, Stegall will text a waitress.
Husband Steve Stegall owns the popular hockey-themed bar. And late at night, when business dies down, the couple curls up, virtually, at the Northland home they had shared. They use their phones to link up on FaceTime.
Each will then switch on their TV sets and talk through an episode of “Narcos,” their favorite series on Netflix.Letty Stegall said through her husband’s phone one night last week.The technology isn’t so accessible to most families with undocumented loved ones arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That’s according to Diana Yael Martinez of Advocates for Immigration Rights and Reconciliation, a local group serving separated families or those at risk.“Most of these families don’t have smartphones. And most (deportees) don’t have internet access,” especially those who locate to remote locations in poorer countries, Martinez said. “A lot of them wind up finding a place with friends they met while detained.”For those who acquire cellphones after being deported, high international calling rates make it unfeasible to place every day calls to relatives back in the States.Letty Stegall benefits by having the same smartphone she owned in Kansas City, with its 816 area code and unlimited calling plan.“I don’t have a strong signal,” she said from her sister’s