She sits in a small conference room at her lawyer's office. It's mid-morning, hours before she heads to a popular downtown St. Louis restaurant, where she buses tables. Maria isn't her real name, but what she's requested we call her for this story. She's 32, small, with short brown hair and big silver hoop earrings. She's a mother to four, an employee, a daughter and a sister.
And she's undocumented, meaning she has no legal status in this country, which is why we're calling her Maria instead of her real name.