LatinaLista — While Congress begins debate on reforming the immigration system, some cities and towns, along with, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) are doing their damndest to scare the undocumented into packing up and going “back where they came from.”
But for one undocumented immigrant in Dallas, Texas, even the prospect of certain death isn’t enough to drive him back to the country where he was born.
Jesus Martinez, known affectionately as Don Chucho, left the Mexican state of Guanajuato to come to the United States and work — that was 43 years ago in 1964.
Intent on working, Don Chucho worked and worked and worked. When he first arrived, he even qualified for a work permit to be in the United States.
But like too many people, when you’re young, in good health and too busy with life, well, stuffy office appointments of any kind aren’t given the priority they should.
If only Don Chucho had known that years down the road he would suffer a stroke that would leave him bedridden and in need of dialysis three times a week.
Years ago, Don Chucho had an appointment with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. He didn’t go. As a result, he lost his work permit and all his rights pertaining to Social Security – no matter that at the time he lost it, he had already spent 20 years paying into the system.
He also effectively became undocumented.
As a result, Don Chucho lays in his borrowed hospital bed, unable to receive any public medical assistance, unable to afford any proper medical care himself and regretting the day he didn’t make his appointment so many years ago.
If he had, he nor his wife Maria Esther, would be in the situation where they are today: she having to quit her job to care for him, and him laying in a hospital bed waiting to die.
The local Mexican consul has offered to help Don Chucho and provide him the medical care he so desperately needs but it would have to be back in Mexico. If Don Chucho returns to Mexico, he can’t come back to the United States.
For a man who has lived his life for more than 40 years in this country, working and raising his family, this is home. That’s why Don Chucho hasn’t accepted the Mexican Consul’s offer to go back and take advantage of the medical care he needs.
He just waits to die in a country he considers home, but which considers him no one at all.
Whoever thinks the only place a person can lay down his life for his country is in a war with guns and insurgents doesn’t understand what true patriotism is all about.