The woman watched as soldiers confiscated her family’s land and beat her husband to death—another horror in the bloody land reforms of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Communist Party. She gathered up her daughter, paid a few bribes and laid low in British Hong Kong for two years, having fled her native China, like so many others, in fear.
By September 1956, she had hustled enough money for passage across the Pacific for her and her daughter. When the two refugees arrived in the United States on a tourist visa, they moved straight to Santa Fe.
The mother’s brother-in-law ran a successful restaurant a block from the Plaza. Her daughter, eager to learn English, agreed to work at the joint for no pay. It’s unclear who tipped immigration officers off to the arrangement, but the feds eventually arrested the mother and daughter and summoned them to Albuquerque, where they faced a deportation …