She was nine months pregnant when she climbed mountains and crossed rivers, traveling through areas often ruled by violence rather than law. The 24-year-old Haitian fled her home country after the 2010 earthquake, settling in Brazil. But the chaos there created by bloodshed, poverty and political turmoil made her set her sights on the U.S.
She and her fiancé were among thousands of Haitians who left Brazil for new lives. In their case, it was to begin life as a family in the United States.
"It's too difficult, I won't make it," she told him on the trek from Columbia to Panama. He reassured her that she would make it -- and so she did. But she made it alone; her fiancé was denied entry to the nation and is being held in a detention facility.
She gave birth to their daughter last month in San Diego; a daughter he has yet to meet, hold or kiss.
"I want him to come here so we can live together," the young mother said. "As a family."
As difficult as the long, dangerous journey was, and the pain of separation is now, she says she does not consider a return to Haiti a viable option. "In Haiti, life is very difficult," she told a PBS station. "Very, very, very difficult. It's so dangerous too."
That is very much the sentiment of many immigrants who fight and work and struggle to make it to Chicago: as tough as life can be here, it is better than what home can offer.
An experienced immigration law attorney can help with family-based visas, work-based visas and much more.