Jennie Tolentino’s son, 24-year-old Earvin Cunanan, is in jail facing an uncertain future. At any time, he could be deported to the Philippines.

Tolentino also faces possible deportation. Like her son, she is an illegal immigrant and has lived with the secret since 1993. But Tolentino never told her son about their lack of citizenship.

In 1993, Tolentino brought her son and her daughter to the U.S. from their home in the Philippines. Tolentino wanted to give her family a better life.

At the time, Cunanan was just five years old. For years, they lived the American dream. But, two months ago, as Cunanan prepared to go to college, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents showed up at his home looking for his mother. She wasn't home, and Cunanan was the one arrested.

Cunanan is now in a federal detention facility. In a few days, he will likely be deported. He said he never would have broken the law, had he known the truth. He has filed an appeal to stay in the U.S. But his appeal was denied.

ICE officials first made contact with Cunanan in 2008. They said Cunanan's case has been under review for several years and reviewed by multiple judges including the Ninth Circuit. ICE officials maintain Cunanan has no legal basis to stay in the U.S. Following deportation proceedings, Cunanan was taken into custody in August 2011.

Q13 FOX News contacted Senator Patty Murray’s office and Representative Adam Smith, both  legislators in the district where Cunanan lives.

In October 2011, Cunanan’s attorney filed a request with ICE seeking a stay of his client’s removal to allow further time for him to pursue other legal options. That request for a stay remains under review by ICE at this time. 

In addition to the anger associated with the discovery of the secret, the emotional struggle weighs heavy. “It`s really difficult, because I`ve never been separated this long from my family,” said Cunanan during a phone call from jail. “This is the first time I`ve ever had to deal with something like this.”

Cunanan has been in the Seattle area since he was six years old. He graduated from Seattle area schools, worked, earned a college certificate. During this entire time, he never knew he was an illegal alien.

He was stunned when he learned the truth.

“I couldn`t believe it,” he said. “Because of the things I went through in this country, and all I wanted to do in the future, and the jobs I wanted to take. That all fell apart when they told me I had no proper documents.”

Tolentino said she did what she thought was best for her children. Now, she lives in constant fear that agents will come and get her as well.

“As a mother, every day of my life that I`ve been living here is scary,” she said.

Immigration advocate and attorney Florian Purganan is trying to stop Cunanan's deportation. “Imagine one of us just being dropped off in a country we`ve never been before. We don`t speak the language, we don`t know anybody there, you can just imagine, the implications and how hard that it`s going to be to realize you`re going to have to live here for the rest of your life and that you have no chance of coming back to the U.S.,” said Purganan.

Purganan has filed a new appeal with immigration in a last ditch effort to reopen this case. “Personally, I think it`s an injustice,” said Purganan. "If that fails," Purganan said referring to the appeal, "there`s probably nothing else that we can do at this point to prevent his deportation."

Earvin does not blame his mother. Instead, he is focused on fighting for the right to remain in the U.S.

“I know [my mother] made a few mistakes here and there, but I`m not really going to blame them. They were just trying to do what a parent would do,” he said.

On May 11, 2011, an immigration reform act known as the Dream Act was introduced into the U.S. Senate. The bill, also known as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, would permit certain immigrant students who have grown up in the U.S. to apply for temporary legal status and to eventually obtain permanent legal status and become eligible for U.S. citizenship if they go to college or serve in the U.S. military.

It would also eliminate a federal provision that penalizes states that provide in-state tuition without regard to immigration status.

For more information about the Dream Act, click here.