A Detroit Deportee update: Two emotional goodbyes caught on camera. How are they now?

Last Updated by Bill Kubota on

A Detroit Deportee update
Two emotional goodbyes caught on camera. How are they now?
February 16, 2018 – Bill Kubota, Detroit Public Television’s One Detroit

In May last year Detroit Public Television’s One Detroit and Bridge Magazine documented Maria Garcia Juarez as she headed to Mexico, deported by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Last month Jorge Garcia followed suit.

Maria, age 23, came undocumented with her mother to California when she was a baby. She had a criminal record as a juvenile, moving to Taylor, then Southwest Detroit to escape the gang culture she grew up in, having no legal problems since.

39-year-old Jorge had no criminal record other than entering the country illegally at age 10 with his parents, graduating from high school in suburban Chicago before making his way to Dearborn and then to Lincoln Park, working as a landscaper.

Both are married to American citizens, Jorge to Cindy, a former Ford Motor Company assembly worker. They have a 15-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son. Maria and her husband Erick, a construction worker, have a two-year-old son. Erick was recently diagnosed with leukemia.

Maria-gets-he-papers-of-deportation.jpgMay 26, 2017 – Maria Garcia Juarez gets her deportation order from an ICE agent at Detroit Metropolitan AirportBill Kubota

With Maria’s deportation nearly nine months ago, she didn’t know what to expect. She hadn’t been back to Mexico until this. She settled in a village in the state of Guanajuato, a few hours west of Mexico City, living with an uncle she’d meet for the first time, depressed with the separation from her family, scared to leave the house because of cartels operating in the area.

Maria-and-son-David-in-Juarez.jpgMaria with DavidCourtesy Maria Garcia JuarezWhen DPTV and Bridge reporters Bill Kubota and Chastity Pratt Dawsey visited Maria last fall as part of their coverage for the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, they came upon a crime scene just outside of her village where a body had been dumped in a corn field.

This week Maria texted that her situation is better now. “I am currently in Juarez with Erick’s aunt. Where I lived in Guanajuato was very crazy dangerous. I like it here better. It is more city-like. Even though Juarez has a bad reputation I have heard absolutely nothing bad going on around me.”

Her husband and son David came to visit recently and for now David is staying with Maria until Erick is done with his treatment for leukemia.

Maria said her new location will make it easier for Erick to come see her. Maria wrote, “I live about 15 minutes from the border. It’s really crazy how the bridge divides us. I guess the hard part about being here is seeing the border every single day and knowing you can’t go.”

Jorge-and-family-say-goodbye.jpgJorge Garcia’s last goodbye with his family, a scene seen nationwide as Congress tries to decide what to do about DACABill Kubota

Jorge Garcia has been out of the U.S. for a month now. Photos and video of Jorge embracing his family moments before ICE agents sent him on his one-way flight to Mexico went viral. He and his family made the national news.

His wife Cindy Garcia went to New York for a television appearance and Washington, DC for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, a guest of congresswoman Debbie Dingell.

Cindy remains unafraid to take her message to the public, telling the media Jorge was not a criminal and his problems were caused by poor legal representation. “We tried to do the right thing,” she said.

Jorge-in-Mexico.jpgJorge Garcia in MexicoCourtesy Jorge & Cindy GarciaCindy said Jorge lives with an uncle outside of Mexico City.  She said Jorge’s problem now is that he can’t work without his birth certificate, which he needs to get official identification.  She’s trying to find the safest way to get the birth certificate to him. “The mail is irregular,” she said, “and a bunch of letters I sent didn’t make it.”

It’s difficult for Jorge to travel because his relatives there don’t have a car. He has to figure out the bus system, but Cindy fears Jorge could be a target for robberies and even kidnapping.

She makes one call to Jorge a day because the cell phone signal there is so weak. The separation has been tough on the family. “We take it day by day,” she said.  It’d been especially hard on their son Jorge Jr. but Cindy said, “He’s coming along more.”  She said they just try not to talk about it.  She’s planning a trip to see Jorge in April.

Both Jorge Garcia and Maria Garcia Juarez did not qualify for DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program because Jorge was too old by one year and Maria has a criminal record.

In Washington there has been talk about possibly expanding DACA that could include Jorge, where Congress hoped to have something resolved next month, although that’s now up in the air.  Meanwhile, it might be a year, maybe ten before Jorge and Maria can find legal paths to get them back into the United States.

For a look at the deportations as they happened, see them here and here, reported by Detroit Public Television’s One Detroit, seen on-line and on DPTV’s weekly news and public affairs program MiWeek hosted by Christy McDonald. 

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