An illegal immigrant who voluntarily leaves the United States without an order of deportation "concedes removability" but may later seek legal admission. Someone who is deported can be barred from applying to come to the United States for as long as 10 years, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Krista Blas last heard from her husband more than a week ago and she fears for his safety.
Bernardo Blas Alonso is a Mexico native who lived in the United States for 12 years, eight of those in Cleveland, Tenn.
Earlier this year, he agreed to leave the country voluntarily rather than be deported and was dropped off somewhere along the U.S.-Mexican border on June 2. His wife doesn't know where.
When they spoke June 4, she said, he told her he was in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, across the border from Brownsville, Texas. He asked if she had wired him the $45 she promised Friday evening.
At 7:30 p.m. that Saturday, her cell phone rang. The call was from an Arizona area code.
"I understand you have someone at the border; is it your boyfriend or your husband?" the caller asked her in Spanish.
"It's my husband," she replied in the best Spanish she knows.
"Do you want to see him again?" asked the man, who called himself Freddy and said he was in Houston with her husband.
If she did, Freddy said, she had to wire $500 to a person in Mexico. If she didn't send the money, she wouldn't see her husband alive again. Blas said she told the man she didn't have any money and wanted to talk to her husband, but the man hung up.
Immigrant kidnappings for ransom are rampant in Mexico, and Blas fears that her husband may have become a victim.
From September 2008 to February 2009 - the most recent period available - 9,758 immigrants were kidnapped in Mexico, according to the National Human Rights Commission of Mexico.
They commonly are tortured until they give the kidnappers a relative's phone number, the commission report states.
Blas later confirmed that the phone call from her husband was indeed from a neighborhood in Matamoros, not near Houston.
But she got three more calls and the demand went up to $1,000, Blas said.
She contacted the Cleveland Police Department, which put her in touch with the FBI.
Bureau spokeswoman Stacie Bohanan, in Knoxville, confirmed that the Chattanooga office received a call and said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement verified that Bernardo Blas Alonso was released into Mexico.
Bohanan said Blas should contact Mexican authorities because the possible kidnapping took place there.
Armando Bellos, spokesman for the Mexico consulate in Atlanta, wrote in an email that Blas should contact the office of the Mexican attorney-general.
Bohanan said all cases and circumstances are different, but "there have been instances in the past where the same type of situation, after being investigated further, have been unfounded."
Blas said she's thought about the possibility of a hoax, but the fact that she had just changed her cell phone number and that he hasn't called in a week worries her.
Another possibility, she said, is that Bernardo Blas Alonso tried to sneak back into America and got caught up with the wrong people. But last she talked to him, his plans were to live in Cancún, Mexico, with relatives until he could come back legally.
"He has been calling me every day or every other day for the last two months," she said. "I know he would find a way to call me."
Bernardo Blas Alonso was detained on March 26 after Krista Blas called the police during an argument.
Though the case was dismissed, local authorities found out he was in the country illegally and called the immigration office.
He was held in different detention centers until he was released last week from Oakdale, La.
Krista Blas, a U.S. citizen who has been married to Blas Alonso almost seven years, said they hadn't applied for his citizenship because they didn't meet the financial requirements. She said they were getting ready to do so after she got a raise at work, and they were about to buy a house.
"I didn't know they would check his status for something like that," she said about calling the police. His record also shows driving charges and another domestic and false imprisonment charge from 2005, also dropped, according to Bradley County General Sessions Court officials.
"It's one thing after another," she said. "I'm just trying to work and keep my family together."