DETROIT (WWJ) – The wife of a man deported to Mexico after 30 years living in this country is attending the State of the Union in Washington, D.C.
She plans to serve as a visual reminder of the dreamers, of DACA, and of all the families who stand to lose if the country that embraced them as children releases them into what feels like a strange land as adults.
Cindy Garcia, of Lincoln Park, will be the guest of Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell at the State of the Union Tuesday evening. She’s anxious to hear what President Donald Trump will say about immigration. She also attended Michigan’s State of the Union talk, and said she intentionally sat directly in the sight line of Gov. Rick Snyder, who did not acknowledge her during his speech.
“I believe that we need a pathway to citizenship for the dreamers,” Garcia told WWJ’s Laura Bonnell. “We need to change the broken immigration system for it to fit the families. And I believe that it needs to be done individually because, like in my husband’s case, he has no criminal record.”
A dreamer, Jorge Garcia’s parents illegally brought him to the U.S. when he was 10-year-old. He has no criminal record, pays taxes and has long sought legal status. The 39-year-old landscaper was deported on Jan. 15 and can’t return to the U.S. for a decade.
Cindy Garcia said her husband feels like a stranger in Mexico. “It’s weird because he’s going back to a country he does not know. The dynamics have changed. The money, he doesn’t understand at all. And the neighborhood where he grew up, what he remembers as a child has changed. So he’s thrown into a world he does not know and it’s very unfair to him because he belongs here with his family,” she said.
Jorge Garcia had faced an order of removal from immigration courts since 2009, but had been granted stays of removal under former President Barack Obama’s administration. He learned in November that he’d been scheduled to be deported as part of an immigration crackdown by Trump’s administration. A request from Dingell pushed back the deportation date to allow him to spend the holidays with his wife and two children, who are all U.S. citizens.
Jorge Garcia is too old to qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows young immigrants living in the country illegally who were brought here as children to work and study in the U.S.
For the future, Garcia says America needs to create a pathway to citizenship for the dreamers. “DACA needs to be implemented again for them to have a chance to fulfill the American dream because they were brought here as children,” she told WWJ Newsradio. “They see the U.S. as their country.”
She said it’s unfair her husband didn’t quality for any program, and said policies need to change to fit cases like her husband’s. He was only one year above the birthdate that would have made him eligible for DACA.
The effect of his deportation has been staggering, she said. Her kids had to leave school for a week to come to terms with it, and they still wait at night for dad to come home and help them with their homework. The family is working with a lawyer in the hopes of getting a pardon.
As one step toward helping the Garcias and others like them, she said it’s time for more dreamers to come out of the shadows and tell their story.