If she hadn't left the United States, she stood to enjoy the same benefits of reform as her ex-husband, with whom Padilla now lives. For now, her three adult children in the United States accept a long-distance relationship with their mother.
Under reform, Padilla -- like Teodoro -- would be eligible for both residency and citizenship in five years because the two are among the 2 million young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States before age 16 by their parents.
Upon becoming a citizen in five years, Padilla could petition for his deported mother to return to the United States.
His father, however, would face a citizenship path more than twice as long: 13 years. In fact, the vast majority of reform's 11 million beneficiaries -- those who arrived before December 2011 -- would take the same course.
During that 13-year journey, these undocumented immigrants would experience a profound change in identity: They would officially cease being "illegal immigrants" and would become "registered provisional immigrants," or RPI.
That new status would bring Padilla's father out of the shadows of society, no longer living in fear of police, arrest and deportation.
The 13-year path calls for 10 years as a registered provisional immigrant, then three years of holding a green card, or legal residence.
After that, they are eligible for citizenship. Along the way, an undocumented immigrant would pay a total of $2,000 in fines. And the path requires a steady work history, no criminal record and a constant presence in the country.
In sum, Padilla would become a citizen faster than his father would become a green card holder. That, in turn, would allow a faster path for the son to petition for his mother's return.
The years of separation have been straining, Padilla said.
"A lot of our parents have been deported, and it's hard," said Padilla, whose mother was denied a visa to re-enter the country because officials found she had a U.S. bank account, flagging a prior illegal entry. "Our parents are back in the country where we were born, and they might die because of an accident or any health problems.
"They might not be there tomorrow," he added.
To overcome depression, his mother has started three small businesses in Jauja outside Guadalajara, Mexico -- carpentry, food and clothing stores -- just to keep busy. His grandfather's heart condition has improved, and now his mother has no relatives needing care, Padilla said.
Seeing his mother this month -- the first time in five years -- was overwhelming, he said.
"We just ran to them and cried for 10 to 15 minutes of complete silence," Padilla said.
Then "we laughed a lot," he said.
But they all wondered when they would be able to see each other in person again.
Five years? Seven years? Longer?
Many family milestones can occur in that time: graduations, engagements, marriages and possibly births of grandchildren.
Shortly after the border fence reunion, one of those moments arrived in the family of Evelyn Rivera, who, joining Padilla and Tedoro, saw her mother for the first time in six years.
Rivera: A Colombian family's tale
Yolanda Rave couldn't make it to her the wedding of her eldest daughter, Pamela, this month in Miami. Instead, Rave was in Colombia, where she's been living since 2007 when she was deported from the United States following a traffic stop. She didn't have a driver's license at the time, and then police discovered she was in the country illegally after overstaying a tourist visa for several years.
Thanks to technology, however, Rave, 53, witnessed her daughter's wedding through a livestream connection over another daughter's smartphone. Rivera said her mother even cried during the reception speeches that she heard on her end.
When family photos were taken, someone held up the phone streaming in the video of the mother.
"So my mom technically was in the family photo," Rivera said of her sister's wedding.