The Epic Love, Suffering, and Death of Ricardo Gomez Garcia
(Peter Pereira / New Bedford Standard-Times)
I can safely say that this is the saddest story I've had to tell of an individual suffering from U.S. immigration policy.
I've written story after story about the suffering of individuals. No matter how much suffering migrants go through U.S. citizens just seem not to care, in effect, if not intent. Anti-migrant advocates actively ridicule dead migrants, and most progressives do nothing about it.
The New Bedford Standard-Times (please counter the hate people are spewing on this article) just published a story on the death of Ricardo Gomez Garcia. He left an autistic child and his wife behind after the horror of New Bedford. After fighting for five months in detention to stay in the U.S. he was deported back to Guatemala, where he made the choice to try and re-enter the U.S. again. He met up with his family after the harrowing journey that I know so well, and fell ill. After just 24 hours with his family, he died.
Skip to the end for how you can help.
Claudio Sanchez: A three story apartment building at the end of a narrow steep spiral stairway, a middle-aged woman no taller than 4'10'', black hair pulled tight in a bun, answers the door of a small apartment. A little boy clings to the woman's dress, he groans.Everything about this story points to love. A lawyer describes Garcia's determination:
"He doesn't speak," she says, "but he was born in this country". As if that somehow made up for her son's disability. We sit at a tiny table against the kitchen wall. It's really dark. She's $200 behind on the electric bill so she's trying to use as little electricity as possible...
Juana in Spanish: "The problem that I'm dealing with right now...I am traumatized by the sadness of my husband..."
Claudio Sanchez: Her little boy, though, isn't eating well. Today, he's upset about something. He thinks his father is coming home any day, now.
Juana in Spanish: "He looked for him and showed me his clothes. He showed me his clothes and then looked towards the window, because he always looked that way when he was coming home from work. Once he saw him he would wait for him at the door."
Claudio Sanchez: He points to his father's clothes in the closet and stands by the window every afternoon waiting for him to arrive from work.
Anti-migrant advocates and the media will paint this as a story of enforcement, as a story of abuse. But this is a story about epic love and devotion. It is about the lengths one man went to in order to be reunited with his family. Most of all it is about the autistic son that he left behind. Ricardo Gomez Garcia paid with his life out of love for his son.
[Ondine Galvez Sniffin] noted that Mr. Garcia had a different attitude than many of the Bianco detainees who were tired and ready to go back to their home country.
"This man wasn't giving up," she said. "He was willing to stay as long as necessary to get reunited with his wife and child."
I wish people understood what it means to take the long and dangerous journey from Guatemala to the United States. You think Garcia wanted to do that? You think he wanted to leave everything he knew in Guatemala to provide for his family? If Garcia could have given his life to provide for his family in Guatemala, where he could be a person instead of an "illegal", I'm sure he would of. But his life will fall on the deaf ears of the U.S. anti-migrant machine. Crisis after crisis will continue to occur in a nation that has completely lost its soul.
I'm sure people will dig up dirt on Garcia as I advertise this post. They'll darken his name after he is no longer able to defend himself. But I'm not writing this post for Garcia, I'm writing this post for the autistic son that he had so much love for. He is innocent of the sins we are all guilty of. He is innocent of the sins of this world. Also, he's a U.S. citizen, maybe that will make people care about him. O wait, he's Latino, I forgot.
One young child gets left behind for every two people that are deported. The majority of those children are U.S. citizens. I dare anti-migrant advocates to look those children in the face and tell them this is all their "criminal" parent's fault. It is a parents' love that forces situations like these. Unjust laws interfere with moral law. I cannot think of laws that are more unjust than those that interfere with the love of spouses and their children.
In a generation, these children will be able to speak for themselves and it will be on our collective conscience that we did not do more to change what America has become.
Garcia's son cannot speak for himself, though. He is autistic, and his surviving mother is in the country illegally. An anti-migrant advocate that would have this autistic child's mother sent home, and smirks at the death of his father, is a monster. Guatemala has very few services for autism, and certainly not for a poor family. When I lived in Guatemala I worked in what is one of the only places, ANINI, that provides for abandoned children with problems like autism. If U.S. citizens only knew...
Catholic Social ServicesIf people want to use Citizen Orange's donate form I will get all of the money to the Garcia family, and report the donations publicly on this blog. Use the Citizen Orange's contact form if you want to figure out what else you can do.
Diocese of Fall River
238 Bonney Street
New Bedford, MA 02744