LatinaLista — The March 6, 2007 immigration raid on the Bianco factory workers in New Bedford, MA was all the more heartbreaking when stories surfaced of mothers and fathers being taken into custody and leaving behind their children.
The common criticism is that if any of these undocumented parents love their children as they say they do, why wouldn't they tell the authorities about them so they could be reunited and sent back to their native countries as a family?
It's a valid question that doesn't have an easy answer.
Until there is an understanding that the lives these families would return to are nowhere near the level of prosperity their hard work garners for them here, no matter how humble, critics will never understand and will always shout for these people to go back.
Juana and Mauricio are left with an uncertain future.
In one case, the medical treatment of one family's young autistic child was enough reason to lead a couple to choose to stay in the US illegally and for the father to end up dying for the love of his son.
Ricardo Gomez Garcia, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, worked a double shift at the Bianco factory in New Bedford. He and his wife, Juana, married 20 years, left their four children with Juana's mother in Guatemala as they made their way to the northeast US to find jobs that paid enough money to send home to pay for school fees and other expenses for their children.
In the meantime, they had another son who was born in the United States. Unfortunately, the baby, named Mauricio, was diagnosed with autism.
Juana takes Mauricio to special therapy classes and he must also receive specialized medical care. The two shifts at the Biano factory helped pay for that therapy and treatment.
Yet, even though working two shifts, separated from his other children and Mauricio had autism, Ricardo lived for his family. That's why, even after he was caught by immigration officials and deported in 2005, Ricardo returned yet again illegally to the US so Juana and Mauricio would not be alone in the United States.
However, because Ricardo had already been deported once, the second time he was caught, while working at the factory, made it a felony. After being picked up in MA, he was sent to an El Paso detention center. While there, he got sick from headaches and toothaches â€” the stress from worrying about Juana and Mauricio.
It's not really known how much or how soon ICE officials administered medical care to Ricardo. Though Ricardo paid over $2,000 to an attorney to try and win a reprieve from his deportation for humanitarian reasons, he lost.
But he wasn't giving up.
He was deported and went home to Guatemala to see his children. He then paid a coyote to bring him back to the U.S. He was able to make his way back all the way to see Juana and Mauricio. He got there in time to play with Mauricio.
Unfortunately, whether it was the trip and the stress of it all or his detention under ICE at the detention facility, Ricardo soon was complaining of a sore throat, headaches and exhaustion. By the time his family called an ambulance for him, he was much worse.
He died in the emergency room at a local hospital.
Now, the breadwinner of one family in two countries is gone. As any mother, Juana is worried about the future of her children with Ricardo gone. If she returns to Guatemala, she knows Mauricio, who is a US citizen, won't ever receive the treatment and specialized schooling that autistic children need.
But if she stays, the hardships and continued worrying for her children still left in Guatemala, with no money to send them, burdens her as well.
In the meantime, she knows Ricardo must go home one last time. But she doesn't have the money to send his body back.
Therefore, contributions are being collected to help Juana. Contributions for Ricardo's burial and his family can be sent to Catholic Social Services, 238 Bonney St., New Bedford, MA 02744.
Ricardo and Juana's actions will be condemned by critics but nobody can condemn the love Ricardo had for his family that he would die to provide his children the best he could get for them.