Out of Time

Story by Olivia P. Tallet
Multimedia by Marie D. De Jesús

Juan Rodríguez was pulled from the shadows more than a decade ago. Then life began to revolve around meetings with federal authorities.

Twenty-five times, he and his family went in and came back out. But this last time, they knew.

"This time was going to be different," Celia Rodríguez recalled, her right hand pressing against her chest, the left one hurrying to cover her face as a delicate cascade of tears fell.

Celia doesn't like her daughters to see her that way, so she doesn't make any noise when she cries. The girls, Karen, Rebecca and Kimberly, were squeezed next to her on a loveseat in the den.

The house fell quiet.

It's a spacious home near the University of Houston in a majority Latino neighborhood. At the front, manicured grass gives way to a line of sages and young pink velour myrtles, a Texas favorite because they always bloom this time of the year, no matter the heat. Light filters in from the back of the house, and clean floors glow like mirrors.

Juan broke the silence cautiously, patting his wife's back. Then he looked into Celia's eyes. "Vamos, vamos … ," come on, he said one night last week. They didn't have much time to tell their story.

 Marie D. De Jesus, Staff / © 2017 Houston Chronicle

Photo: Marie D. De Jesus, Staff

Juan Rodríguez and his family - wife Celia and daughters Karen, Kimberly and Rebecca - have built a life in Houston. That could change at month's end because Juan has been ordered to turn himself in to be deported to El Salvador.