When deported mother Yolanda Varona received a call from photojournalist Natalie Keyssar on Friday morning, her voice was quivering. Varona, a Mexican mother of two and leader of the Dreamers Moms of Tijuanaspoke clearly — and forcefully — about her feelings on Donald Trump’s plans to build a wall to fortify the border between the United States and Mexico. In an executive order signed Wednesday evening, President Trump called for the “immediate” construction of the barrier that has already escalated tensions between the two nations.

“I woke up yesterday to this news, and it filled me with sadness,” Varona told Keyssar, a photographer who documented her life in Tijuana — separated from her children — last spring. “To me, the wall means misery. It makes me think of death, of how many people die trying to cross these borders, and it represents hatred for my community. It means separation of families.”

TIJUANA, MX. - APRIL 8 2016: Mexican Federal Policeman escort a tour of the border wall near Tijuana. Natalie Keyssar

Mexican federal policemen conduct a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border wall near Tijuana on April 8, 2016.

Natalie Keyssar

Varona is one of scores of women who have been separated from their children both legally and physically after being deported from the United States. But she has bonded with others facing a similar plight through the activist organization Dreamers Moms. Though their stories vary, the women share a similar fate: They wait in Tijuana, often for years, for a chance to see their families. Some women have lost contact, while others find ways to connect with their children from afar.

Keyssar, whose reporting for this story was supported by the International Women’s Media Foundation, spent time with half a dozen Dreamers Moms during her week in Tijuana. Her photographs convey a sense of loss, but the women remained hopeful.

One Dreamers Mom, Emma Sanchez Paulsen, is married to an American military veteran who brings her children, who were born in the United States, to visit as often as they are able. As Sanchez Paulsen waits out a 10-year-ban from the United States for entering the country illegally, she finds ways to connect with her children. In her self-published children’s book “El Pequeño Elfo,” Sanchez-Paulsen explains the separation to her children through illustrations and words.

Montserrat Godoy, another Dreamers Mom, first entered the U.S. illegally with her husband and settled in North Carolina. When she left the relationship and the country because of spousal abuse, she was ultimately separated from her children, who are citizens, when she was denied re-entry to the United States. Godoy said that despite being awarded joint custody by a North Carolina court, the arrangement is untenable and their contact is limited — she remains behind a wall with her children on the other side.

Speaking from limbo in Tijuana, Varona emphasized the human suffering that Trump’s rhetoric obliterates. “He is talking about people,” she told Keyssar. “We feel and love and cry too. We need to be with our families. We need to be making bridges, not borders and divisions. That is what the world needs right now.”

TIJUANA, MX. - APRIL 7 2016:  A portrait of Sanchez-Paulsen's family on a shelf in the living room of her Tijuana home. Natalie Keyssar

Emma Sanchez-Paulsen displays family photographs on a shelf in the living room of her Tijuana home.

Natalie Keyssar

April 8, 2016. Jacumel, Mexico. A group of children play at a spring festival in the small border town of Jacumel near Tijuana.

A group of children play at a spring festival in the small border town of Jacumel near Tijuana, on April 8, 2016.

Natalie Keyssar

TIJUANA, MX. - APRIL 7 2016:  Sanchez Paulsen face times with her son in the US in the living room of her Tijuana home. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>Natalie Keyssar

Emma Sanchez Paulsen talks to her son, who lives in the United States, over Facetime from the living room of her Tijuana home.

Natalie Keyssar

TIJUANA, MX. - APRIL 8 2016:  A Mexican Federal Policeman is seen through the window of his car on a border tour of the wall near Tijuana. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>Natalie Keyssar

A Mexican federal policeman stands outside a car window during a tour of the wall at Mexico’s border with the U.S., near Tijuana, on April 8.

Natalie Keyssar

TIJUANA, MX. - APRIL 7 2016:  Maria de la Luz Montalvo poses for a portrait on the stairways of her Tijuana apartment building. Also a Dreamer Mom, she was deported from the US nearly 6 years ago. Her husband and the father of her children, a US Citizen, abused her, a story common among Dreamer Moms who often have no legal recourse to take if their husband is a citizen, and she suspects that he was ultimately responsible for her deportation. He does not allow her to speak to her children on the phone and has only allowed them to visit her once. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>Natalie Keyssar

Maria de la Luz Montalvo stands on the stairways of her Tijuana apartment building. Also a Dreamers Mom, she was deported from the U.S. nearly six years ago. Her husband, a U.S. Citizen, abused her. Stories of abuse are common among Dreamers Moms, who say they often have no legal recourse to take if their husband is a citizen. De la Luz Montalvo said that her husband does not allow her to speak to her children on the phone and has only permitted one visit.

Natalie Keyssar

TIJUANA, MX. - APRIL 9 2016:  A statue of Christ near the neighborhood of Camino Verde in Tijuana. Natalie Keyssar

A statue of the Christ stands near the neighborhood of Camino Verde in Tijuana on April 9.

Natalie Keyssar

April 5, 2016. Tijuana, Mexico. A detail of a sculpture of Christ on the cross at a migrant shelter in Tijuana. Many of the Dreamer Moms and thousands of other migrants like them have stayed in shelters like these at some point in their journeys.

A detail of a sculpture of Christ on the cross, which is displayed at a migrant shelter in Tijuana on April 5, 2016. Many of the Dreamers Moms have stayed in shelters like this one at some point in their journeys.

Natalie Keyssar

TIJUANA, MX. - APRIL 7 2016:  Emma Sanchez Paulsen pulls out some of her children's baby teeth which she keeps as one of the many tokens of her family on the other side of the border.  </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>Natalie Keyssar

Emma Sanchez Paulsen shows her children’s baby teeth, which she keeps as one of the many tokens of her family that resides on the other side of the border.

Natalie Keyssar

TIJUANA, MX. - APRIL 7 2016:  El Pequeño Elfo, is a childrens book that Sanchez-Paulsen wrote and illiustrated to explain the separation to her children. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>Natalie Keyssar

El Pequeño Elfo is a children’s book that Emma Sanchez-Paulsen wrote and illustrated to explain the separation to her children.

Natalie Keyssar

April 7, 2016. Tijuana, Mexico. Emma Sanchez Paulsen, a Dreamer Mom, poses for a portrait in her bedroom in her home  in Tijuana. Sanchez Paulson is married with three children to an American Veteran, but she was deported and barred from the US for ten years starting in 2006 because she had originally entered the US illegally. She still sees her husband and children as much as possible whenever they can come visit her from their home across the border in California, but desperately misses her family and is heart broken by missing the day to day parts of being a wife and mother.

Emma Sanchez Paulsen poses for a portrait in her bedroom in Tijuana. Sanchez Paulson, who has been deported and banned, is married with three children.

TIJUANA, MX. - APRIL 5 2016: A donkey tied up near the border wall in Tijuana, Mexico. Natalie Keyssar

A donkey is tied up near the border wall in Tijuana, on April 5.

Natalie Keyssar

TIJUANA, MX. - APRIL 9 2016:  Leticia Orozco and Manuel Aguirre peer through the border at their children and grand children in Friendship Park in Tijuana. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>Natalie Keyssar

Leticia Orozco and Manuel Aguirre peer through the border at their children and grandchildren at Friendship Park in Tijuana on April 9.

Natalie Keyssar

TIJUANA, MX. - APRIL 8 2016:  Mexican Federal Policeman escort a tour of the border wall near Tijuana. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>Natalie Keyssar

A Mexican federal policeman at the border wall near Tijuana.

Natalie Keyssar