She is a loyal, stubborn dedicated mother and is intelligent and persuasive.
She is short and thin, with thick, black, curly, long hair. She has a fringe which is swooped upwards.
Karla worked in a law office before it closed down. When her husband died, she began raising her children alone.
One day, her children were in the nurse's office in school crying when Karla had to come see them. She cheers them up saying they need to move on with their regular lives and that everyone dies but she isn't going to die for a long time ("God Bless America").
Like Blanca, Karla was detained at the ICE security camp.
During the first meeting with the judge at the court, her case was set over until she had time to find an attorney, Blanca copies her. She was furious at Blanca as she believed it was for people like Blanca (illegal immigrants who committed an offense) that now the ICE wanted to punish them all.
Karla is seen working on the computer on her case when Blanca comes over. Karla hides her book from Blanca until she snaps at Blanca, causing C. Litvack to come over. She informs him of her rights which cause the computers to be turned off by C. Litvack.
Blanca flatters Litvack which leads him to turn them back on. She invites over Karla. They start their new friendship.
At Court, Karla wants to file her application for relief under the Convention Against Torture Act. She states, filling the I-589 application, that she would be tortured in case she returns to El Salvador. She brings a newspaper article about the school she used to teach, El Aleph. The year she left El Salvador, 36 deaths occurred in the school. All of them were boys who refused to join criminal gangs, no one of them had a way out. She also says that when she got pregnant, her husband and she knew they had to leave. The lawyer against her case states that gang violence is neither for CAT nor for asylum seekers. In response, she says that she has to children, who are American citizens, and she cannot bring them to a country where their choice to live would be "kill or be killed", and if she brings her children back they will be forced to coerce into joining the gangs or they will suffer the consequences. In answer, the lawyer says the US is not deporting Karla's kids, but Karla herself. She states she will not leave them: their father passed away the previous year and she is all they have now. As Karla lost the custody of her children since she is detained at ICE facility, they are already placed in pre-adoptive foster care. The judge states she failed to make a case for herself and the application does not even make a prima facie case for relief under the CAT. She denies Karla's case and she issued a written order of removal.
Karla later says to Blanca to change her strategy: Blanca has to say she wants a stay of removal to fight her original conviction in criminal court.
Later, they go back to ICE camp where Gloria discovers Blanca had more time, instead Karla is to be deported soon. Karla asks Gloria a favor: to bring a cell phone in order to call her children for the last time.
Gloria allows Karla to call her kids for the last time. Karla tells them that she will be back as soon as she can. They begin to cry. She thanks Gloria.
- "Mijo! I'm working really hard on getting back to you, okay? I'm going to have to be away for a little while, but I'm coming back. (But when?) I don't know yet, but soon. You have to know that no matter what happens, no matter what anyone tells you, I will not stop until we're together again. (Will you be here for my birthday?) If I'm not, it just means that I'm still on my way, okay? But it might take me a little while. So, until then, you two need to take care for each other. Remind each other to drink water and zip up your jackets. And you know how when you were little and you'd get real angry or sad, we used to talk about using your words. Well, you're gonna have to do that. You're gonna have to tell people what you need. If there's something you don't understand or if... something hurts... [sniffles] or if someone hurts you... you're gonna need to speak up for yourselves, and for each other, because I won't be there to do it for you. [sniffles] I love you both more than anything. Never forget how much I love you."
- — Karla to her children
Later, she is deported back to El Salvador.
In El Salvador, she is hiking with a group led by a coyote that is taking them back to the US when she falls off the trail and injures her leg severely, she can no longer walk. The leader of the hike carries her for a while but abandons her with a jug of water after he states he needs to bring them to the US. She pleads as he walks away, with him saying he'll 'try' and come back. She tries to get up, but can't, beginning to cry.
It is likely Karla died as the shot shows an incredibly long journey left for the rest of the hiking group, meaning that if the coyote was to return, Karla would most likely have died of starvation, exposure to weather or been attacked by an animal.
- Unnamed Husband†
- Abel (son)
- Benji (son)
- Unnamed Husband†